Who are the major contenders in the television drama acting races at this year’s Golden Globes? Awards Daily TV breaks down the two lead categories to see who is out front and if anyone stands a chance against this year’s Emmy winners.
This time last year, the new wave of unexpected awards contenders came to fruition with Westworld, Stranger Things, and a surprising broadcast sensation in This Is Us. Instead the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made a predictable yet deserved choice with Claire Foy and a choice that failed to make any sort of outside impact with Billy Bob Thornton for Goliath.
This year’s drama acting races don’t have as many clear favorites with the obvious exception of Elisabeth Moss who is bound to sweep through awards season picking up every major award. Instead the drama races are filled with unlikely contenders in genre shows and broadcast hits that could use the extra boost. Ian McShane and Tom Hardy are two actors from shows looking for any sort of recognition after being left out at the Emmys. Netflix has a crop of popular new dramas that need an extra push before Emmy season with Mindhunter and Ozark. Then there’s actors like Freddie Highmore on a massively popular broadcast drama looking for the first major nomination of his adult career.
Ozark – Unbeknownst to most, Ozark was the sleeper hit of the summer. If that popularity leads to a nomination for the show it will likely be for Jason Bateman. His character is the clear center of the show, and his role only becomes more impressive when the credits role and audiences discover just how hands-on he was as a director and producer. Throughout the show, Laura Linney is underused, especially in the first few episodes, but she does have smaller standout scenes. Even if Bateman is receiving all of the attention, she has been nominated six times in the past (with two wins) proving that she might just be popular enough.
The Crown – Based solely off the trailer, the second season seems to heavily focus on the tumultuous marriage between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. With the second season becoming a two-hander between the actors, Claire Foy will easily be nominated for a second time, and Matt Smith has the potential to receive the first major awards recognition of his career.
This Is Us – The broadcast sensation’s second season received mixed reactions while remaining a major force in the fall TV conversation. The one thing everyone can agree on is how essential Sterling K. Brown is to TV. With more competition and less room, it’s unlikely that Milo Ventimiglia is nominated. Mandy Moore was unfairly one of the only cast-members left out at the Emmys but she might be more Globes friendly.
The Deuce – Just how well HFPA voters will respond to The Deuce is hard to gauge. On one hand, it’s a prestige HBO period drama starring two Oscar nominees. On the other hand, it comes from a creative team that the foreign press has tended to be cold towards. If voters respond well to the show as a whole or not James Franco is likely the frontrunner for a showy duel role as twins unless they overlook him here in favor of his performance in The Disaster Artist in the comedy category. Without much individual buzz, Maggie Gyllenhaal might be a harder sell if it weren’t for the fact that she is a previous Golden Globe winner and is competing in a category without much competition.
Game of Thrones – The massive ensemble of Game of Thrones has always defaulted to the supporting categories, but now that the series is in its final stretch, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington are the leads of the show. The large ensemble has trouble standing out against each other, but if the two moved to the lead categories, it gives the HFPA the opportunity to make Clarke and Harington even bigger stars as their careers head to the next level.
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) – After finally winning a long overdue Emmy, Elisabeth Moss is going to sweep through awards season and along the way pick up her second Golden Globe. Moss is having her moment in Hollywood right now, and there is a strong chance she receives a second nomination in the limited series category for her work on Top of the Lake, a performance we know Globes voters loved after she won a few years back.
Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor) – The Good Doctor is easy to dismiss as overly precious, but audiences have fallen in love with Freddie Highmore’s performance as a medical resident with autism. He is having a career defining year first with the finale of Bates Motel. Now with some of the best reviews of his career for The Good Doctor, this might be the year he earns his first nomination for his work on TV.
Brendan Gleeson (Mr. Mercedes) – HFPA voters are notorious for championing surprise performances from unknown shows on networks trying to break into the awards conversation (Nick Nolte on Graves, Billy Bob Thornton on Goliath, Patrick Stewart on Blunt Talk). This year Brendan Gleeson fits that description perfectly for his role in Mr. Mercedes, a Stephen King adaptation about a detective tormented by a former case. The show is the Audience Network’s biggest hit to date, and the Irish actor has been nominated three times in the past ten years.
Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter) – Netflix’s newest collaboration with David Fincher captivated critics and audiences in a way that will likely make it an awards contender. Jonathan Groff’s performance itself isn’t over the top or emotionally manipulative in the way some of the other big 2017 performances are, but if HFPA voters embrace Mindunter, he is bound to pick up an acting nomination as well.
Tom Hardy (Taboo) – The first season of Taboo may have come and gone without a single Emmy nomination, but if there’s one thing Golden Globe voters love, it’s an A-List movie star coming to television. Tom Hardy starring in a British historical epic may be too good for voters to pass up.
Ian McShane (American Gods) – Of all the new performances this year Ian McShane as a modern version of a Norse god stands out as the most entertaining. Starz also has a strong history at the Golden Globes, and American Gods is by far the network’s best drama yet.
Melissa Leo (I’m Dying Up Here) – Unexpectedly Showtime’s new drama about a comedian trying to make it big in the 1970s will be competing as a drama. The show premiered to mixed reviews and is more of an ensemble than a lead vehicle for Oscar-winner Melissa Leo. Still the Golden Globes love to give new shows a chance, and Leo is loosely portraying Comedy Night Club legend Mitzi Shore.
Christine Baranski (The Good Fight) – In terms of cultural impact The Good Fight feels like an afterthought, but HFPA voters absolutely loved the original The Good Wife. The original show received 14 nominations, and if voters like the spinoff at all, they’ll likely rally behind Christine Baranski.
Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) – The HFPA is the only awards group that honored the surprising cult phenomenon Outlander. Fans of the show consistently rallied behind the leads online, and in a less competitive year, that is probably good news for Caitriona Balfe who has been nominated twice in the past.
Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) – Emmy voters weren’t won over by Winona Ryder’s return to significance, but as the show continues to captivate millions of people around the world, she seems like an obvious favorite for the movie star obsessed Hollywood Foreign Press. Still, with all of the focus being put on the younger cast and David Harbour, she might be forgotten.
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) – It’s unfortunate that Mr. Robot’s awards chances were derailed after a confusing second season. Even if voters have given up on the show, there is a chance that they will continue to recognize Rami Malek’s lead performance that continues to be one of the best on TV.
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) – Odenkirk has already been nominated twice at the Golden Globes which is surprising for a character actor on a show that has never been nominated in any other category. With so many new shows Odenkirk probably won’t return for a third consecutive year.
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) – Explaining why Ray Donovan is such a consistent awards player especially for Liev Schreiber is difficult. He has been consistently nominated for the first four seasons, and might easily earn a fifth nod this year but now he faces a staggering group of competition. Still, Showtime doesn’t have any other big shows this year, and the HFPA might continue to celebrate Schreiber as a way of celebrating the network.
Best Actor in a Television Drama Series
- James Franco, The Deuce
- Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
- Jonathan Groff, Mindhunter
- Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor
- Brendan Gleeson, Mr. Mercedes
Spoilers: Jason Bateman, Matt Smith, Liev Schreiber, Ian McShane
Best Actress in a Television Drama Series
- Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
- Claire Foy, The Crown
- Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
- Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Deuce
- Melissa Leo, I’m Dying Up Here
Spoilers: Mandy Moore, Laura Linney