Variety examines what to expect when the Television winners’ names are announced at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony on Jan. 5, 2020.
Last year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. went all-in on shiny new series in this category (the lone exception was the eventual winner, FX’s final season of “The Americans”), but this time, only Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” made it from the freshman class. With it, the second seasons of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “Succession,” and BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” alongside the third season of Netflix’s “The Crown” made the cut. “Big Little Lies” is a bit of a spoiler in this category, given that it last competed in (and swept) the limited series/TV movie race and then “surprise” returned and was pushed into drama. But the newcomer is certainly the one on which to keep an eye, as HFPA voters choosing the #MeToo series would certainly mark it as a heavy contender for awards shows to come.
Just as last year, two out of the five nominees are returnees to this ballot: Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) was nominated twice before, in 2016 and 2017, while Billy Porter (“Pose”) scored a nom just last year. “Succession’s” Brian Cox and “The Crown’s” Tobias Menzies have both one previous Globe nom each, but in different categories, while Kit Harington is a true newcomer, earning his first-ever HFPA attention for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” Coming off of a historic Emmy win, Porter will likely be too good to pass up for the trophy. However, if the HFPA’s propensity to celebrate something or someone new wins out, Menzies may have an edge for stepping into the third season of the royal family drama as the more mature Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
It’s a full sweep of women who are nominated for the first time in these specific roles in this category, from “The Morning Show’s” Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, to Olivia Colman, who just took over the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of “The Crown,” as well as “Killing Eve’s” Jodie Comer, and Nicole Kidman of “Big Little Lies.” Kidman won the limited series/TV movie actress statue for the first season, but is competing in drama since the show returned, and that familiarity could cost her. Aniston is a front-runner, although being on the same ballot as her co-star Witherspoon could split some votes, pushing Colman closer to the trophy.
MUSCIAL OR COMEDY SERIES
Three out of the five shows in this category are consecutive nominees. HBO’s “Barry” and incumbent winner Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” are up for seconds, while Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is back a third time. It’s hard to deny the power “Maisel” has among these voters, but Amazon’s “Fleabag” and Netflix’s “The Politician” should give it a real run for its money this year. “Fleabag” had a banner year at the Emmys, and HFPA voters may feel remiss that they overlooked its first season, leading to them being willing to follow a trend, rather than set one. But don’t count out wildcard “The Politician”: a brand new series, which is something the organization has historically honored, it combines both elements (comedy and musical) of this category.
MUSICAL OR COMEDY ACTOR
Last year’s winner in the category, Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) is once again in the running. He and Bill Hader (“Barry”) are the only veterans in this race, though. Rounding out the category are three men who are seeing first-ever attention from the HFPA: Ben Platt (“The Politician”), Paul Rudd (“Living With Yourself”) and Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”). This is always a tough race, and Hader certainly made a strong case for himself in the second season of his hitman-turned-thespian series, but this year Rudd is a likely winner. The veteran actor is beloved by the industry, journalists clearly included, and in his new streaming series turns in a performance like nothing he’s ever been given the chance to do before. He plays dual roles as a beleaguered man and his more optimistic clone.
MUSICAL OR COMEDY ACTRESS
Last year all the nominees in this category were comedy veterans — a rarity — but now only two fit that description. Two-time incumbent winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) is back in the running, as is Christina Applegate. Although this is Applegate’s first time up for “Dead To Me,” she was nominated three times prior in this category between 1999 and 2009. Alongside them are Kirsten Dunst (“On Becoming a God in Central Florida”), Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”). At the moment, it is Waller-Bridge who is leading the pack. However, Dunst should not be counted out quite yet, as her single mom, pyramid scheme climber character Krystal Stubbs is the combination of quirky and strong that voters have loved in the past.
LIMITED SERIES / TV MOVIE
One of these things is not like the others: Hulu’s “Catch-22” is the lone fictional story in the race this year, and it is also the only series that is male-dominated. From HBO’s “Chernobyl” to FX’s “Fosse/Verdon” to Showtime’s “The Loudest Voice” and Netflix’s “Unbelievable,” the period pieces all deal with multiple points of views from complex individuals and moments in history. Both “Chernobyl” and “Fosse/Verdon” were winners at the Emmys, which could spur HFPA voters to devote more attention to “The Loudest Voice” and “Unbelievable.” The latter is an important but often hard-to-watch eight-parter about sexual assault. If voters saw it through to the end, it should sneak to the front of this race. However, there is no shortage of strong contenders, making this race currently too close to call.
LIMITED SERIES / TV MOVIE ACTOR
All five nominees took on period pieces this year, with four out of the five portraying real-life men. As in the limited series/TV movie category, the outlier comes from “Catch-22,” in which Christopher Abbott portrayed a popular literature character. Sacha Baron Cohen stepped into Eli Cohen’s shoes for “The Spy”; Russell Crowe transformed into Roger Ailes for “The Loudest Voice”; Jared Harris became Valery Legasov in “Chernobyl”; and Sam Rockwell was the titular male choreographer in “Fosse/Verdon.” Since the HFPA loves international talent, Cohen, Crowe and Harris are climbing to the top of this list, with Crowe the current front-runner, due to how unrecognizable he was in the role, as well as how many layers he added to a polarizing public figure.
LIMITED SERIES / TV MOVIE ACTRESS
Sixty-percent of this race consists of Golden Globes newcomers (“Unbelievable’s” Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Wever, as well as “The Act’s” Joey King), while Michelle Williams (“Fosse/Verdon”) draws her first Globes attention on the television side of the ballot and Helen Mirren (“Catherine the Great”) returns to the television side of the ballot after three film noms. Once again, this category is an embarrassment of riches. While each performance is awards-worthy in its own way, name recognition is likely to win out here. This could mean either Dever (who has extra heat on her from her film turn in “Booksmart”) or the long-beloved Mirren takes the trophy.
A trio of contenders (“The Kominsky Method’s” Alan Arkin, “Succession’s” Kieran Culkin and “Barry’s” Henry Winkler) are back in the running, this time against first-timers Andrew Scott (“Fleabag”) and Stellan Skarsgard (“Chernobyl”). These five men represent all three genres in one category, with Arkin, Scott and Winkler repping comedy, while Culkin is up for a drama and Skarsgard a limited series. That the nominees are so heavily weighted in comedy, though, says a lot. This, combined with the fact that he’s the one major player in “Fleabag’s” second season whom the Television Academy didn’t celebrate first, pushes Scott to the top of this category.
Last year Patricia Arquette won the Globe for lead limited series/TV movie actress, but this year she is up for her Emmy-winning supporting role in “The Act.” Should the HFPA not want to follow the Television Academy’s lead, though, voters gave themselves ample other options from which to choose, including Emmy nominated Emily Watson (“Chernobyl”), as well as three whose series didn’t premiere in time for the Emmys: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”), Toni Collette (“Unbelievable”) and Meryl Streep (“Big Little Lies”). As strong candidates as these women all are, Streep is the one to beat. The Oscar winner has won nine previous Golden Globes, including the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, and breathed new, tense life into the premium cable drama.