Aimless Prognosticating: Predicting the Television Golden Globe Awards, Lead Categories

I feel like I probably know the answer to the primary question of this post. We all know that the Golden Globe Awards are a crock, especially when in reference to television. I originally wanted to write a post discussing whether or not it was worthwhile to even predict the outcome of the Golden Globe Awards’ television side, but then realized that would basically be a 250-word column featuring me saying “not really” in various ways. Critics and scholars complain a lot about the Emmys, but at least they follow a certain kind of logic and structure and outside of the HFPA’s love for sexy women, the Globes don’t work inside any sort of framework.

The Globes happen in the middle of the official television season (as opposed to the Emmy’s clearer position at the beginning of a new season with a reflection on the past one) and for the most part, the Globes do a bit of zeitgeist chasing. Glee was a big winner last year, as was Dexter in its most-talked about season right as Michael C. Hall’s cancer issues came about. I’m not saying the HFPA just picked Hall because he had cancer and it thus made a good story to run the next morning, but I really wouldn’t put it past them. Hall definitely deserves some praise for his work on Dexter, but I think you understand what I’m saying. When the Golden Globes nominated Piper Perabo for her work on Covert Affairs I think they did all the work for me in terms of explaining their logic and process, but if I were to distill it into bullet points it would probably be something like this:

  • Attractive women = good choices
  • Popular things, sexy things = good choices
  • Things on cable, especially pay cable = good choices

That’s basically it. Those are the three criteria I am using to determine my “picks” for Sunday’s Golden Globes. I am not expecting to be correct with most of these and in fact if I end up being mostly correct, there’s probably something wrong with the HFPA. That means they’ve gotten complacent or listened to reason or something, which is unfortunate. A few days ago, I looked at the two supporting categories and came to somewhat surprising conclusions. At least I think so. I didn’t get anything out yesterday, so it’s probably a double shot day today. First up, the Lead categories.

Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy

  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Steve Carell, The Office
  • Thomas Jane, Hung
  • Matthew Morrison, Glee
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

The background: These categories are a little easier to judge since there aren’t performers from four or five different kinds of programming in them. The comedy actors can’t get screwed in a category with all comedy actors. Well, unless someone from a HBO or Showtime “comedy” wins. Over the last ten years, this category has been something of a mixed bag. In certain years, the HFPA went their normal route and picked familiar, big names for performances that I don’t remember really anyone liking. The most obvious example of this is 2001’s win for CHARLIE SHEEN for his work on Spin City. I see that Michael J. Fox won a few years earlier, so obviously the voters liked that program, but come on. CHARLIE SHEEN. We can probably through David Duchovny’s win in 2007 for the dreadful Californication on there as well. But a lot of the time, the HFPA gets it right, or at least kind of. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Ricky Gervais (The Office), Steve Carell (The Office) and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) have all won in the last 10 years, including Baldwin‘s sick three-out-four run from 2006-2009. This obviously means good things for those two gentlemen in the bolded font type, but perhaps suggests promising returns for Jim Parsons, who everyone loves and who walked away with the Emmy this past fall in the same category.

Other factors: Everyone but Parsons was nominated in this category last year when Baldwin won, so it’s clear the voters like these gentlemen a lot. The question is if they like someone like Thomas Jane or Matthew Morrison more than the two former winners and the new kid on the block. I’m going to say that Jane has absolutely no shot — which of course means he’ll win — and unless there is a big run on awards for Glee, I don’t see Matthew Morrison walking away with any hardware either.

The frontrunner: It’s gotta be Baldwin. He’s a three-time winner, he’s a big name and people love the performance.

Right there: Carell is a former winner and a big name in his own right at this point who is also in his final season on The Office. I’m pretty sure he can still be nominated next year, so there isn’t a lot of final year action involved. Something also has to be said for Parsons. If there’s any Baldwin boredom out there, I have to imagine he picks up those votes and runs away with it.

Concluding ramblings: N/A

Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy

  • Toni Collette, The United States of Tara
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Laura Linney, The Big C
  • Lea Michele, Glee

The background: Much like the male side of the category, there actually isn’t a whole lot to complain about in terms of past winners. Sure, Sarah Jessica Parker won three times between 2000 and 2003 with a Jennifer Aniston victory in the middle and a Teri Hatcher win afterwards in 2004, but none of those victories are as bad as Charlie Sheen and David Duchovny. And for whatever reason, picking the big name female actresses ends up being a good thing, so two victories for Tina Fey and one for Mary-Louise Parker are generally good things. If we consider the most recent past, four of these five ladies were nominated in this category last year, with Laura Linney being the big-time newcomer. In that race last year, Toni Collette beat out her Showtime mate Edie Falco and stopped Fey‘s winning streak.

Other factors: We still have to consider the Attractive Lady Corollary, which gives Lea Michele some small, little advantage. But not much. Last year, Showtime obviously made some sort of big push to the HFPA and Collette walked away with the award. Now, there are three Showtime actresses in the race and all of them are fairly sizable names doing interesting work on series with varying degrees of quality. I guess we could also say that Tina Fey is an even bigger star this year, with Date Night and Megamind under her belt as well. Something to consider.

The frontrunner: I think it’s Laura Linney. Even though Collette and Falco were in the race last year and the former won, Linney is probably the biggest name of them all and she’s also the new kid, so her work looks a little bit more shiny.

Right there: The other two Showtime ladies. Collette has the upper hand on Falco because she defeated her last year and is doing better, more obviously interesting work. I wouldn’t be shocked if any of those three won.

Concluding ramblings: Barring a Glee sweep, Lea Michele just gets to show up and look really, really good on the red carpet. Which I’m fine with. There’s probably just too much big, dramatic weight being thrown around for Tina Fey to walk away with this award again, though she’s done really good stuff on 30 Rock over the past 25 episodes.

Best Actress in a Television Series Drama

  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
  • Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs
  • Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
  • Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

The background: This is a compelling category this year. A few stalwarts, one insane nomination and one surprisingly awesome nomination. Not a bad batch. Over the last 10 years, this category has been odd in that no one winner has repeated. Heck, a number of the nominees changed from year-to-year as well, something that seems to happen very rarely with the Globes as long as performers’ series actually stay on the air. In terms of actual quality of winners, it’s been something of a mixed bag, but not too awful. Of course, we have the totally random Anna Paquin win in 2008, but current comedy nominee Edie Falco won for her work on The Sopranos in 2002, Glenn Close rightfully won for her excellent performance on Damages in 2007 and Julianna Margulies deserved it last year as well. I’m not sure about a Jennifer Garner win in 2001 or a Geena Davis win for Commander-in-Chief, but there are worse winners. Like Anna Paquin.Outside of Close, however, this category hasn’t necessarily been stacked with big name winners. Sure, Mariska Hargitay and Kyra Sedgwick are big television names, but they’re not massive names in the industry as a whole. That more or less bodes well for everyone in the category this year.Finally, over the 2000-2009 period, there didn’t seem to be much cable bias, as network performers won five out of the 10 years.

Other factors: Piper Perabo is literally the most unlikely nominee in this category in the last decade and a half. I mean, at least people liked Anna Paquin’s performance in True Blood. I’m not sure who in the heck really enjoys Covert Affairs or Perabo in general, but you know what? She’s attractive. And young. And blonde. So there’s that. Katey Sagal is finally getting noticed for her work on Sons of Anarchy, to which I, along with everyone else who watches that program say, IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. She’s a four-time nominee for her work on Married…With Children, so it’s not like the voters don’t know who she is. That could mean something. Of course, Sedgwick and Margulies after former winners, not just nominees, which bodes well for them as well.

The frontrunner: This is honestly the toughest pick. In the second year, it seems like buzz has cooled a bit for Margulies, but only because The Good Wife has a stacked stable of performers on its cast and a great rotating group of supporting players and guest stars. Elisabeth Moss has been given her first nom this year and she did fantastic work in season four. But for whatever reason, the Mad Men actors and actresses never get their due. She’s the most deserving, but I just can’t see it. Sedgwick is on her way out and she won the Emmy when everyone expected it to go to Margulies, so she’s also a major threat. But in the end, I think Margulies becomes the first repeat winner in a while.

Right there: Both Moss and Sedgwick could just as easy win. The latter is much more likely than the former, but it’s probably a three-person race at this point.

Concluding ramblings: Just like Scott Caan, I’ve completely disregarded Piper Perabo, which means she’ll probably win. I love Katey Sagal and wouldn’t care if she won, but she really didn’t get enough good material in season three to warrant the victory. But if this is a retroactive award for season two of SAMCRO, I’m cool with that.

Best Actor in a Television Series Drama

  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Michael C. Hall, Dexter
  • Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Hugh Laurie, House

The background: As usual, a stacked category. This group includes three former winners in the category with Hugh Laurie (2005, 2006), Jon Hamm (2007) and Michael C. Hall (2009). Those three have been in the conversation for a while now, so they’re always big threats. In the 2000-2009 years they didn’t win, the victorious performers were generally in high-profile roles that everyone enjoyed: Kiefer Sutherland, Ian McShane, Michael Chiklis, that kind of business. So even though they are new to this race, Steve Buscemi and Bryan Cranston are in good positions because everyone knows about their roles and the the programs in which they perform them. Laurie is the only network guy on the list, but including his two victories, winners came from the big four half of the time between 2000 and 2009.

Other factors: Again, last year was a big night for Showtime and for Dexter, and that’s all very possible again. I already predicted one winner for that series and could just as easy see Hall walk away with the award again. If we’re to consider star power, there is definitely something to be said for Jon Hamm‘s ever-rising profile. He was excellent in The Town, a film in the Oscar discussion, and he continued to do awesome work on 30 Rock and SNL. He’s probably not an A-lister yet, but he’s close. Some consideration also has to be made for Cranston‘s three-peat at the Emmys. I know the Globes are a different story, but it’s obvious that the HFPA finally took notice of his work (but still failed to acknowledge the series’ quality). Plus, we can’t forget the contact buzz Buscemi gets for working with Marty and Winter on Boardwalk. And if we pretend for one second that the voters actually watch the series that they nominate, Hugh Laurie has done some really great stuff on House over the past calendar year, which gives him a chance.

The favorite: My lord, I really have no idea. The voters aren’t shy to give someone the award more than once and each of these gentlemen deserves the award in their own right. But just on pure performance quality alone, I have to think that Jon Hamm deserves it the most. Throw in his rising profile and it makes a lot of sense for him to win for a second time.

Right there: Michael C. Hall is a big threat as well because of the aforementioned Showtime factor. The voters seem to really like Dexter and Hall is generally awesome. I think Boardwalk is going to get enough love that Buscemi also has a chance to walk away with this one.

Concluding ramblings: It seems like Hugh Laurie‘s time has passed, which isn’t really a knock on him but just an observation of the quality of the category. And Bryan Cranston might have finally gotten his recognition nomination, but it seems like that’s all this is. Again, I’d be far from shocked if either of these gentlemen takes the award, but there’s certainly some separation between the top three guys and these two. I think. Maybe.

Alright folks, later today: The series noms!

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