Golden Globe Analysis: TV nominations blend novelty and stagnation

12.15.09 8 years ago


The Hollywood Foreign Press announced the nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday (Dec. 15) and the results were exactly what we’ve come to expect from the HFPA: Simultaneously inspired and trendsetting, but also inane and entrenched.
There’s something both impressive and reliable about how the Golden Globe voters are simultaneously able to embrace “Glee,” the morning’s big winner, while also continuing to nominated “Entourage” every year.
[More after the break…]
The Golden Globe voters like to be the first on their block to spot something shiny and new and this year’s brightest bauble was “Glee,” which snagged an series nomination, as well as nods for Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch. The embrace of “Glee” was predictable and inevitable and if you’ve got money available and access to a diversified bookie, you’d be well served to put your money on Michele to win. All of it. Every penny. She’s beyond a lock. Is that because she’s better than Edie Falco or Toni Collette? Ummm… No. It’s because that’s the way the Golden Globes work.
“Glee” is also probably a lock to win for comedy series, though the Globes also found a way to nominate “Modern Family” in that category, along with “30 Rock” and “The Office,” which were inevitable and entrenched locks. That left exactly one spot and what do the Golden Globe voters do? They nominate “Entourage,” thus earning a lifetime of additional “Entourage” references to the HFPA. 
In that space, the HFPA could have nominated “Nurse Jackie,” “The United States of Tara,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Party Down,” “Community,” “Better Off Ted,” “Bored to Death,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Chuck” or “Weeds.” I don’t want to get all “We’re in a New Golden Age of TV Comedy” on you, but even if we’re in a Silver Age of TV Comedy or a Bronze Age of TV Comedy, you don’t need to be nominating a lame duck “Entourage” for best anything and that includes Jeremy Piven as supporting actor. The Emmys finally got their love of The Thermometer out of their system, but the Globes still want to hug it out?
I didn’t list it above, but my shock is that this wasn’t the year the Golden Globes decided to “discover” CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s become TV’s most watched comedy among young viewers and second most watched overall and honoring the increasingly hip geeksploitation favorite might have made the Golden Globes look hip as well. Or at least nominating Jim Parsons would have made the Globes look as if they weren’t even more out-of-touch than the Emmy voters, who at least gave a nod to the young actor who has moved ahead of perennial nominees Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell as TV’s funniest leading man.
Lead Actor in a Comedy series was a tough field this year with Baldwin, Carell and Globe favorite Duchovny all locks. Some pundits will play Thomas Jane’s nomination for “Hung” as a big shock, but I kinda told y’all that one was coming. In the eyes of Globe voters, Jane’s a “movie star” who decided to “slum” on TV and, as such, he’s worthy of award recognition [Jane’s “Hung” co-star Jane Adams was a more pleasant surprise nominee.] That leaves Morrison, who sings and dances enthusiastically. Would I have nominated him over Parsons? No. Not any day of the week. But that was unavoidable.
[If I’m speaking personally, I wouldn’t have nominated “Glee” at all, or at least not for anything other than Jane Lynch. I know folks love that show, but if you look to that list of neglected comedies I ran through, I prefer six or seven of them to “Glee.” But I can’t quibble with the Globe voters taking pleasure in using that “musical” part of the Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy slot. Ever since “Viva Laughlin” let them down, voters have probably had an itchy trigger finger.]
“Entourage” aside, HFPA voters were so aggressive in their quest to shake up the nominations that they even gave Courteney Cox a nod for “Cougar Town.” To that, you’d probably say, “But sure, she’s a big TV star to the voters because she was on ‘Friends.'” To that I point out that Cox now has one more Golden Globe nod for “Cougar Town” than she received for the entire series run of “Friends.” The Globes also considered an odd tradition of snubbing Patricia Heaton, who had seven Emmy nods and two wins for “Everybody Loved Raymond,” bit was never nominated for a single Globe.
So anyway, the Globe voters got burnt out on mixing things up in the comedy field that they decided to play it safe with dramas. 
The nominees for Best Television Series, Drama are the same as last year — “True Blood,” “Dexter,” “House” and “Mad Men” — with only “In Treatment” falling out of favor. The fifth nominee, “Big Love,” wasn’t eligible last year, but was nominated in this category the two years previous. That meant that the Globes continued their odd tendency to ignore “Breaking Bad” and “Damages” and continued a three-year streak of not nominating “Lost” (though Michael Emerson’s supporting nod was the ABC’s drama’s first HFPA notice since 2007). The Globes also resisted the temptation to recognize either “Sons of Anarchy” or “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”
In a confusing gesture, the Globes nominated Simon Baker for Best Actor in a Drama, a nomination I would have predicted last year when “The Mentalist” was new and exotic. Instead, they snubbed Baker last year and had to look like Emmy followers this time around. Still, Baker’s a fresh nominee in a category where the other candidates — Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie and Bill Paxton — have all been amply feted. 
The only new show even mentioned in any of the drama categories was “The Good Wife,” with a nomination for star Julianna Margulies. No surprise there, since Margulies is a six-time Golden Globe nominee, even snagging slightly oddball nominations for “The Grid” and “The Mists of Avalon.” While not close to a Michele-level sure thing, Margulies’ newness probably makes her a favorite even against Glenn Close, January Jones, Kyra Sedgwick and last year’s winner Anna Paquin.
Speaking of Paquin, even most “True Blood” fans would tell you that Sookie didn’t have as good as season this year as last. The season just wasn’t her story. Instead, Paquin just became another example of Golden Globe entrenchment. If Globe voters love the show as much as they seem to, why not supporting nominations for Alexander Skarsgard and Michelle Forbes? Be the first on your block to salute last season’s real “True Blood” stars? But no.
I’ve written enough about these nominations now, but a couple other TV category quick-hits from Tuesday morning:
*** The trio of nominations for “Georgia O’Keeffe” will prove that if you go out and get the right pedigreed stars — Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons — it’s possible to compete with HBO in the movie/miniseries category. That doesn’t mean that “Grey Gardens” and “Into the Storm” won’t be the big winners, but Lifetime gets to be a player.
*** Double-nominees will all the rage with the Golden Globes this year, with Matt Damon, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock all taking two nominations on the feature side. Does that mean that Anna Paquin is the small screen’s Meryl Streep? Not only did she get nods for “True Blood” and “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler” this year, but since 1984, Paquin also leads Streep in Oscars won, 1-0.
*** It’s a mixed bag for AMC when the cable network can get three nominations for “Mad Men” but “The Prisoner” and “Breaking Bad” get shut out. 
*** My colleague Mr. Greg Ellwood has done a super job breaking down the movie nominees, but I just want to look to that side of the ledger to note that my boys Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber deserved a screenplay nomination for “(500) Days of Summer” and that the shunning of “A Serious Man” in every category other than Michael Stuhlbarg’s well-deserved lead actor nod just showcases the ignorance of Globe voters.
*** Woops. One last movie comment. “Up in the Air” is a comedy. It’s a dark comedy, to be sure, and it isn’t a comedy that’s funny all of the time, but it’s a comedy. I know that the Golden Globe voters are challenged by “tone,” but it’s a comedy.

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