Who has the greatest 2017 awards buzz: HBO or FX? Here are some series from both cable giants that could see future attention.
This time last year, awards buzz around 2016 focused on Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl and Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, and that goes to show you how much can truly change in a year. Instead, a new class of HBO programming struggles to stand out against the new gold standard of television, FX. In a year where strong networks like Showtime floundered, FX and even USA are looking to take their place as the new future of television (well besides streaming). These are the seven shows and performances to look out for this awards season.
After twelve years, Sarah Jessica Parker comes home to prove that she is still the silver screen queen even though she’s a year older than Wilford Brimley in Cocoon. Divorce may be divisive among critics, but the HBO dramedy aligns perfectly with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s TV sensibilities. They loved middle aged actresses on premium dramedies (Laura Dern, Toni Collette, Laura Linney, Mary-Louise Parker), and Sarah Jessica Parker is a 4-time Golden Globe winner for Sex and The City, which won three best series awards in a row. On top of Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce has so many HFPA-friendly elements that the show is poised to be nominated as one of their favorite comedies of the year and possibly even a lead actor nomination for Thomas Haden Church, especially with so little competition.
Other voting groups like the critics and the guilds might be a little more hesitant to reward the show. With a 60% score on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, critics are unabashedly disappointed with the show, and guild members, especially the WGA, are more likely to reward showrunner and Emmy-nominee Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) if at all. If the Critics go for a left field choice, they might nominate Molly Shannon in the supporting race for what is probably the flashiest performance on the show.
Lead Actress in a Comedy, Sarah Jessica Parker: Golden Globes
Comedy Series: Golden Globes
Lead Actor in a Comedy, Thomas Haden Church: Golden Globes
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Molly Shannon: Critics Choice
Actress in a Comedy, Sarah Jessica Parker: SAG Awards
Insecure may not have the weight of star power or a gimmicky plot behind it, but it became HBO’s best reviewed new show of 2016 by simply being great. Insecure is the most relatable comedy on premium cable, and awards groups are going to jump at the chance to be the first to recognize Issa Rae. The Golden Globes love to pretend they discovered new talent before any other group, and Issa Rae is bound to follow in the footsteps of Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom. Unfortunately, Insecure might be too small of a show, especially in ratings, for the HFPA to recognize it in any other category.
Critics, on the other hand, have been championing Issa Rae as a creative talent ever since her webseries Awkward Black Girl and there’s a good chance they’ll jump at the opportunity to award the show as a whole, especially since they chose another auteur-esque comedy last year, Master of None.
Lead Actress in a Comedy, Issa Rae: Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice
Comedy Series: Critics’ Choice
Comedy Series: Golden Globes
HBO struggled over the past few years to build their next big drama now that Game of Thrones is coming to an end. The network failed to find the right audience for The Leftovers, embarrassed themselves with the second season of True Detective, and flat-out pretends Vinyl never existed. Now Westworld seems to be their only hope and appears pretty likely to be embraced throughout awards season. The HFPA loves to reward almost every major HBO show, and this is the perfect opportunity for the Foreign Press to ditch Game of Thrones, a show they have never been enthusiastic about. The large ensemble cast could easily sneak into the SAG ensemble race since there are a couple of open slots, especially since SAG voters have embraced HBO fantasy shows like GoT and even True Blood.
The biggest question regarding Westworld is whether or not the fantasy ensemble will be recognized for its individual performances. No one from the ensemble has stood out in a Peter Dinklage or Uzo Aduba manner, so it’s hard to tell which actors will be recognized (if any) especially after HBO made some interesting submission decisions. Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton were both submitted as lead actresses while four men have to fight it out in supporting, although Anthony Hopkins is the sole lead actor representation. As of now, Ed Harris is likely to stand out in the supporting actor race, especially in a year where that category is so up in the air.
Drama Series – Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice
Drama Ensemble – SAG Awards
Lead Actress in a Drama, Evan Rachel Wood: Golden Globes
Supporting Actor, Ed Harris: Golden Globes
Lead Actor in a Drama, Anthony Hopkins: Golden Globes
PGA, DGA, WGA
Until Atlanta, Donald Glover received a television outlet in comedies that never really seemed to fit him creatively from his breakout role on Community to his short stint on Girls to offset the show’s white Brooklyn problem. Now that he seems to be in complete creative control, his first starring role emerges as the best reviewed new show of 2016. It feels like an obvious Critics’ Choice contender/frontrunner for lead actor and series in the comedy races, especially since this is the same voting body who has repeatedly awarded a showrunner/star like Louis CK and even championed Glover’s first show Community.
The Foreign Press could go either way with a show like Atlanta by celebrating it the same way they did Lena Dunham and Girls in its first year, or they could completely ignore the show the way they have other auteur-driven comedies like Master of None and Louie. In the end, HFPA voters will probably realize there is too much hype around the show to ignore and, if anything, the cinematography will make Atlanta stand out as more cinematic than any other comedy in contention.
Lead Actor in a Comedy, Donald Glover: Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice
Comedy Series: Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes
WGA Award, PGA Award
Queen of the South
The Foreign Press loves international stars, so, although Queen of the South comes across as a little too mainstream to be an awards contender, Alice Braga could easily sneak into the drama actress race. The USA drama might not have as much buzz as other shows, but throughout the summer it did have consistently stronger viewership than Mr. Robot. The Brazilian star came to fame after a role in the Oscar winning City of God and is now the star of a show about an international drug cartel, a theme that helped Narcos earn two major nominations last year. From Ugly Betty to Jane the Virgin, Globes voters have always had a fascination with telenovela-inspired shows, and Queen of the South might just be the next obvious pick.
Lead Actress in a Drama, Alice Braga: Golden Globes
Louie Anderson won the first major award of his career this year for his work on Baskets, and he might just be able to ride that wave of support into the fall awards season. Golden Globes voters have the impossible task of narrowing down the supporting races to five performances with complete disregard to genre. As of recently they’ve used the Emmy winners as a jumping off point even if Baskets barely made an impact last winter.
Supporting Actor, Louie Anderson: Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe
Lead Actor in a Comedy, Zach Galifinakis: Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice
The most surprising fact about the Critics’ Choice Awards just might be that the current record holder for the most nominations isn’t an Emmy favorite like Allison Janney or Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Instead, that honor goes to Walton Goggins. They couldn’t get enough of him in Justified and Sons of Anarchy, and, if the voting body had been around throughout The Shield, he’d probably have even more nominations. Vice Principals may be a divisive show (I have an equal number of friends who found it outright offensive as found it hilarious), but Goggins’ southern flamboyancy/Christley Knows Best character is flashy enough to stand out in such an underwhelming lead race, at least with BTJA members.
Lead Actor in a Comedy, Walton Goggins: Critics’ Choice
Of course there are a dozen more shows that could potentially break out as well. The Golden Globes almost always nominate Showtime somewhere, and maybe they’ll feel bad for the network in its odd year and throw a bone to Billions. Critics have always adored Louie, so maybe they’ll embrace his creative partner and star of Grease 2 Pamela Adlon in her new show Better Things. Hell, maybe the Foreign Press will decide to punish us for Donald Trump and bring back Roadies. Anything can happen.