- The Golden Globes are Sunday
- There's lots of speculation as to who will win in the TV categories
- The Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn't mind rewarding the Brits
There are two different races happening at the Golden Globes this year -- one for movies, which is neck-and-neck with the Academy Awards -- and one for television, which lags behind the Emmys.
So while the Golden Globes can act in some ways as a salve for Oscar snubs and a predictor of Oscar wins, it doesn't have the quite same breathlessness when it comes to television, since the Emmys are so last year (OK, four months ago) and, unlike movies, TV shows can have a track record of previous Globes wins.
Still, they provide a fun game of "Who will win?" and "Who should win?" To make your awards viewing (and betting?) more manageable, here are some of Entertainment's most educated guesses, thanks to input from the nominees themselves.
Best television series -- drama
"Breaking Bad," "Boardwalk Empire," "Downton Abbey," "Homeland" and "The Newsroom" are all up against each other, like sweaty singles in a nightclub.
"Boardwalk" showrunner Terence Winter, however, doesn't think his show can really compete with "Walter White in the crazy department. But we might be up there, sure." He noted that "it's an amazing time for TV drama," and daunting to even think about the competition in that category.
The showrunners for "Homeland" -- Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon -- were thrilled to be recognized in another category this year: those shows which have been parodied on "The Simpsons." "We're officially in the popular culture!" Gordon said with glee. That Emmy win doesn't hurt, either -- "Homeland" is a shoo-in; it can, will, and should win. Plus, it won last year.
Best television series -- comedy or musical
The contenders are "The Big Bang Theory," "Episodes," "Girls," "Modern Family" and "Smash." "Modern Family" also won the Golden Globe last year, but what about giving another show a chance, perhaps one that had its first season last year?
"Smash" is the only real musical of the group, even though it's also a drama, which makes it an odd duck here, but "Girls" feels like a natural winner.
"It's smart, and it's funny, and I find the specificity of the dialogue really refreshing," said "Portlandia" co-creator Carrie Brownstein. "I love how it delves into the awkward moments, awkward sex, without shying away from it and in an unrelenting way. I'm really rooting for 'Girls' and I think Lena Dunham is a genius." You go, girl.
Best mini-series or motion picture made for television
Based on the Emmys, you might well guess that "Game Change" has this category on lockdown. But it's up against "The Girl," "Hatfields & McCoys," "The Hour" and "Political Animals." OK, that's not really much competition against the juggernaut that is "Game Change."
"At a function for 'Recount,' I mentioned to someone, 'I would have loved to been in the room when they made the decision (to put Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket)," director Jay Roach said. "I'd been working on a spin doctors story for a long time, but then I thought, 'This is the story.' "
Even though "Game Change" is such a powerful tale that it's getting a follow-up, this category tends to favor mini-series over movies ("Downton Abbey" won the previous year). If the Hollywood Foreign Press is so inclined, might we suggest the very deserving BBC program "The Hour," which is oft-compared to "Mad Men" for its 1960s period setting, but is actually a drama about investigative journalists who get pulled into political and sexual scandals.
Best performance by an actress in a television series -- drama
If "Homeland" can and should win, so should its star, Claire Danes. Her competition, however, includes Connie Britton for "Nashville," Glenn Close for "Damages," Michelle Dockery for "Downton Abbey" and Julianna Margulies for "The Good Wife" (who was also nominated last year). But outside of Close (who saw the final season of her show this year, always a cause for awards upsets), it's not even close. As Danes previously told CNN, "I think people are rooting for (my character Carrie), and I'm so honored to be playing her."
Best performance by an actor in a television series -- drama
We'd say that what is good for the goose is good for the gander -- if Danes should win, so should her co-star Damian Lewis.
But that didn't happen at the Globes last year, even though he was nominated. (He did win the Emmy, however). And the race might be tougher for Lewis this time, since his rivals include Steve Buscemi for "Boardwalk Empire," Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad" (both of whom were also nominated last year), Jon Hamm for "Mad Men" and newbie Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom."
But since "Homeland"'s focus shifted this season, from the pressure on Carrie to the pressure on Brody, Lewis might take home a trophy. Plus, he's a Brit and this is the Hollywood Foreign Press, who tend to reward those things.
Best performance by an actor in a television series -- comedy or musical
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded this honor to Matt LeBlanc for "Episodes" last year, but the show hasn't held up. This gives previous winner and perpetual nominee Alec Baldwin the favorite position -- especially given that this is the last season of "30 Rock."
However, his competition includes Louis C.K. who is more identified with his program -- and not just because it's his name. He's the creator, writer, director, producer, editor and star of the show and won Emmys for acting, writing and directing "Louie" this last go-round. Baldwin may win, but Louis C.K. should win.
Best performance by an actress in a television series -- comedy or musical
The nominees this year include returnees Zooey Deschanel (for "New Girl"), Tina Fey (for "30 Rock") and Amy Poehler (for "Parks and Recreation"), plus two stars of two new shows: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (for "Veep") and Lena Dunham (for "Girls").
If Deschanel, Fey and Poehler couldn't beat winner Laura Dern last year, they don't provide much competition, even if two of them are Golden Globes co-hosts. Though sentimental value (the last season of "30 Rock"!) might boost both Baldwin and Fey, she doesn't think she'll win; she casts her vote for BFF Poehler.
We think it's more likely, however, that Louis-Dreyfus will take it, given her Emmy win and "Veep" creator Armando Iannucci's U.K. roots (again, foreign press decides this one). But the one we're rooting for is Dunham, who plays a character who feels more real and authentic than most of what's on television.
Best performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
"Game Change" may or may not win, but Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin will, even if her competition is Nicole Kidman ("Hemingway & Gellhorn"), Jessica Lange ("American Horror Story: Asylum"), Sienna Miller ("The Girl") and Sigourney Weaver ("Political Animals").
"Julianne Moore put so much heart and soul in that," her director Ray Roach said. "There's so much political masking that goes on, you need someone who is a fully engaged human being first and foremost, beyond a candidate, and I thought Julianne did an amazing job." So did the Emmys.
Best performance by an actor in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
Like Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson will probably take this category.
But also in the running are Emmy-winner Kevin Costner for "Hatfield & McCoys," Benedict Cumberbatch for "Sherlock," Toby Jones for "The Girl" and Clive Owen for "Hemingway & Gellhorn."
"Game Change" is a little too much of an American story for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to sweep, so they might be willing to give this one to a more deserving Brit -- Cumberbatch. His modern-day Sherlock Holmes is enigmatic, charismatic and wholly singular. Plus, it's his year, what with also playing the mysterious villain in the new "Star Trek" movie and the dragon and the Necromancer in "The Hobbit."
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
After this past season of "Homeland," is there any question who should win?
Still, Mandy Patinkin has some worthy rivals, including Ed Harris for "Game Change" (and he just might win), Eric Stonestreet for "Modern Family" (an awards favorite for comedy, but unfortunately he's going against the drama guys), Danny Huston for "Magic City" and Max Greenfield for "New Girl."
Patinkin plays his character Saul with such nuance, fans of the show are still guessing whether or not he's the mole in the CIA -- complicated by his rise in power at the end of last season. "I have my own theory," Patinkin told CNN. "As a matter of fact, I write my own theories underneath everything I say. And part of the fun for me is when I hit bingo, and get what the writers were doing."
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
Can the Dowager Countess take home the Golden Globe now that Jessica Lange has been promoted from supporting to lead on "American Horror Story: Asylum"? For Maggie Smith's sake, we would say yes.
"Downton Abbey" deserves some love, and there's no better recipient this year, considering the actress is also up against Jennifer Lawrence for best actress for musical or comedy (and there's no chance there).
Still, it's not in the bag, and Hayden Panettiere ("Nashville"), Archie Panjabi ("The Good Wife"), Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family") and Sarah Paulson (who is nominated for "Game Change") are all in the running. We say Smith is the queen of zingers, and who better to liven up the Globes with a well-timed spike? We do hope she's interrupting something.