2009 Golden Globes: TV Nominations Analysis

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2009 Golden Globe Awards: TV Nominations

December 11th, 2008

Predicting the Golden Globe awards is, quite literally, a devil’s bargain. While the Movies side is its own monster, the Television nominees are perhaps one of the most difficult to predict in all of awards-dom. Yes, the Emmy Awatds are a broken process, but they at least have a structure that allows for observant parties to analyze. With the Globes, it’s about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s whim – it’s what they consider hype-worthy, what they wake up one morning obsessed with, and overall what about 100 obscure and oft-maligned international journalists decide people should be watching.

Which makes this more fun than anything: we can’t take it too seriously, so it’s just a fun head shaking exercise. The big question is what big new show they’re focusing their attention on (The answer: HBO’s cult hit True Blood, although not as much as they could have), which returning shows they continue to be obsessed with much to my chagrin (The answer: HBO’s Entourage), and which nominees actually sneak in to be deserving independent of their trend-driven qualities (The answer: Neil Patrick Harris).

Overall, these nominees aren’t bad, but they do little to save the show’s reputation: while often lauded as potential kingmakers for films during Oscar season, they are still content to pretend that liking HBO is still hip and cool. While they were the first to recognize Mad Men, and will good reason, there were some other cable shows this year (Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, in particular) which probably could have snuck in for some attention. Unfortunately, the awards don’t quite work that way, and I guess we can’t expect them to. All we can do is sit back or, if you’re me and obsessive about award shows, delve into each individual category with critical gusto. So, let’s take a look at the madness.

Best Television Series: Drama

Dexter, House, In Treatment, Mad Men, True Blood

This category tells us a few things. First, it tells us that the HFPA are fans of both Dexter’s dark sensibilities and House’s dour but occasionally light-hearted medical mysteries, along with being big fans of the show’s eponymous performances. Second, it tells us that Mad Men is going to be a show that the HFPA continues to like: after winning last year, the show is back in the awards’ marquee category. The other two nominees are no surprise: often one to pass over great seasons of returning dramas (See: Lost) and shows which don’t have the same international appeal as others, it is no surprise that their interest in international connections, HBO series and hip new series would lead them to the low-rated but Israeli-created In Treatment and the buzzworthy vampire lust of True Blood. If there’s one show missing, it’s AMC’s Breaking Bad, but it couldn’t repeat Mad Men’s successful ascension from AMC to the interest of the HFPA (even with Cranston’s Emmy win), plus it aired quite some time ago.

Best Television Series: Comedy

30 Rock, Californication, Entourage, The Office, Weeds

While I am more than slightly annoyed that it is the uneven and kind of boring Californication and not Pushing Daisies that proved to have legs for the HFPA following their freshman frames last year, I’m more annoyed at their continued obsession with HBO’s Entourage. I just don’t see how the show belongs in this category over some other, much better, comedies. This isn’t a new sentiment for me, sure, but it warrants mentioning. I’m glad that The Office and 30 Rock have both stabilized in this category, something that is difficult for a show like The Office being in its fifth year. Similar to Entourage, Weeds is a HFPA favourite, having been the first to recognize Mary-Louise Parker for her role in the series; they’ll apparently nominate it until the cows come home. Missing shows here include any new network sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory) as well as some deserving holdovers (How I Met Your Mother, It’s Always Sunny…)

For all of the acting nominations, click below.

Best Actor in a Television Series: Drama

Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Hugh Laurie (House)

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors)

One thing that True Blood wasn’t able to do was break its lead actor (Stephen Moyer) into a tough category. You have too many holdovers here, and Byrne’s performance is so well liked within television circles that it’s hard to think of a situation where an unknown would find its way in instead. Glad to see that the HFPA doesn’t share the Emmys’ obsession with James Spader, but otherwise this is a very Emmy-esque category. I think that Byrne has the advantage here: Hamm won last year but got less material, Laurie and Hall feel like perennial nominees, and Rhys-Meyers doesn’t feel like a real contender.

Best Actress in a Television Series: Drama

Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)

Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU)

January Jones (Mad Men)

Anna Paquin (True Blood)

Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Count ’em on two fingers: two interesting nominations in a category becoming overdominated by the same actresses year in and year out. We get it, Re: Field, Hargitay and Sedgwick – they’re good actresses, with showy roles, who will keep getting nominated. The real story here is actually an increase of momentum for Mad Men, with January Jones joining in on Jon Hamm’s fun with a well-deserved acting kudos for a season that will serve her well at Emmy time as well. Anna Paquin, meanwhile, is a Globe nominee in the past (See: The Piano and as recently as last year’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), and is in the closest thing we have to a buzzworthy freshman series, so her nomination makes sense even if that accent is kind of atrocious (Just sayin’…).

Best Actor in a Television Series: Comedy

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Steve Carell (The Office)

Kevin Connolly (Entourage)

David Duchovony (Californication)

Tony Shalhoub (Monk)

Yes, you read that correctly: I don’t despise Eric Murphy as a character, and I think Kevin Connolly brings the right balance of intelligence and small man complex to the role when asked, but there is no world where he is a main character on Entourage on the level of these other actors’ importance to their own shows. I get that the Comedy field is not facing a dearth of lead candidates, but the idea of Lee Pace getting bumped from this category for Connolly is kind of boggling to the mind. Either way, he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning: you’ve got four past winners, as recent as Duchovony win last year, and I’d say the money is on Baldwin this year.

Best Actress in a Television Series: Comedy

Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?)

America Ferrera (Ugly Betty)

Tina Fey (30 Rock)

Debra Messing (The Starter Wife)

Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)

Tina Fey continues to rack up the well-deserved noms for her role as Liz Lemon – she won last year, and is certainly the favourite going into this category. Joining her are a few favourites and a comeback story that never got its ending: Ferrera and Parker were both “made” by the Globes in the minds of the HFPA, and even as the former’s show gets no love she continues to get nominated in this category. Both are great performances, so it’s not as if that’s a problem. Messing, meanwhile, rides Will & Grace’s success into this category, and while the USA Network series is apparently quite good she’s still there more for her legacy than anything else. Applegate was supposed to have her big comeback year last year, with her return to television in Samantha Who? ultimately getting snuffed out by the Fey Steamroller. She’s back this year, having fought cancer in the interim, which is a testament to the Globes’ commitment to her performance.

Best Supporting Actor in a TV or Mini-Series or Television Movie

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)

Denis Leary (Recount)

Jeremy Piven (Entourage)

Blair Underwood (Entourage)

Tom Wilkinson (John Adams)

Well, finally – after a few years of undeserving snubs, Neil Patrick Harris breaks through for HIMYM at the Globes, garnering a nod in an always difficult category thanks to the inclusion of stars from the big miniseries. I’m not sure if even Jeremy Piven (who is, and always will be, the only Entourage nomination I can handle) can beat Wilkinson in this category, but I’m rooting for NPH regardless: a well deserved nod, and certainly my one silver lining within the nominations. Leary is deserving for Recount even if I would have nominated someone else from the (great) movie instead, while NPH isn’t the only series bright spot: while I haven’t yet had the commitment of watching all of those episodes, Blair Underwood is apparently great in In Treatment, and along with Byrne his nomination is in line with those I know who have seen the whole series.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV or Mini-Series or Television Movie

Eileen Atkins (Cranford)

Laura Dern (Recount)

Melissa George (In Treatment)

Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters)

Dianne Wiest (In Treatment)

There is no surprise with the two TV Movie/Miniseries selections, here – Dame Atkins took home the Emmy in September, and Laura Dern was fantastic as Katherine Harris at the center of the Bush/Gore battle in Florida. On the TV side, though, things are a bit interesting: Grey’s Anatomy is completely shut out, there’s no love for Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, and instead we get two nods for HBO and a residual nod from another past HBO series. Wiest is no surprise considering she took home the Emmy and is the most veteran acress from the cast, but George is a bit of a headscratcher: most who watched the show noted it was Mia Wasikowska who was far more intriguing as a performer, but I guess George’s time on Alias and her timely guest role on Grey’s Anatomy helped her break through instead. Griffiths, meanwhile, is really good on Brothers & Sisters but is still getting nominated for Six Feet Under (which she was also really good on, but still).

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie

A Raisin in the Sun, Bernard and Doris, Cranford, John Adams, Recount

No shockers here: all Emmy contenders, all but John Adams going home empty handed.

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Ralph Fiennes (Bernard & Doris)

Paul Giamatti (John Adams)

Kevin Spacey (Recount)

Kiefer Sutherland (24: Redemption)

Tom Wilkinson (Recount)

It’s Emmy flashbacks other than Sutherland’s entry, which isn’t surprising considering his Globes love in the past. Regardless, though, it’s the same story here: Giamatti in a landslide.

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Judi Dench (Cranford)

Catherine Keener (An American Crime)

Laura Linney (John Adams)

Shirley MacLaine (Coco Chanel)

Susan Sarandon (Bernard & Doris)

Lifetime always does well at the Globes, so MacLaine’s nod is a testament to that, but it’s the usual suspects from the Emmys in the rest of the category: Linney and Dench have to be the favourites.

For all of the Golden Globe nominees in both Film and Television, visit the HFPA Golden Globes page.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “2009 Golden Globes: TV Nominations Analysis

  1. Even agreeing with you in many comments I think Mariska Hargitay deserves win. She is a fantastic actress and has made its Olívia Benson the best female character on TV. Mariska is simply fantastic as an actress. And yet it is beautiful and sexy.

  2. i wonder if the hfpa got their australian ‘in treatment’ actresses confused?

  3. Grace

    I’m THRILLED that HOUSE and HUGH LAURIE
    are nominated once again!! They are up against
    some rough competition this year, but one can hope!!
    One complaint: Where is ROBERT SEAN LEONARD in the co-star catagory???????

  4. Jason

    How is it that LOST was not on the list. It is the best show on television.

  5. hana

    I was sorry to see that Stephen Moyer did not have a break-through nomination as Best Lead Male with “True Blood.” However, maybe this lack of recognition can serve as impetus to get him more screen time in Season 2. He’s simply superb in the role of Bill the Vampire. Watch out next year – if he gets the screen time he deserves, he will be the one to beat.

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