Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. pride themselves on their unpredictability — so trying to guess what TV series will earn a nomination is an exercise in near futility. Unlike the film race, which can have a certain steady momentum based on the guild and critics picks, the TV categories have little to guide them. Witness last year’s “Mozart in the Jungle” selection, which few could have foreseen.
Sources say this year Netflix’s “The Crown” is a lock, as are NBC’s “This Is Us” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld.” So which dramas are in play for the precious fifth slot? And what programs are contending for the comedy series and miniseries/TV movie categories? Read on for a peek inside Variety’s very cloudy crystal ball.
TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
“The Americans” — FX
The Globes have yet to recognize FX’s stellar spy drama four seasons in, but now that the Emmys have finally heeded critics and showered the Cold War-era thriller with noms, the HFPA will likely want to seem just as savvy as the TV Academy. And with only two seasons to go before the series finale, it’s about time to recognize one of the small screen’s best dramas.
“The Crown” — Netflix
The streamer’s crown jewel of a series is prime awards bait: from the lush period setting to the Oscar-winning auspices to the painstaking recreation of the lives and loves of British royalty. While some may carp at the leisurely storytelling pace, voters won’t be able to resist crowning the opulent drama.
“Empire” — Fox
The hip-hop drama may not longer be the fresh new face, but in its third season it’s still delivering big ratings and even bigger plot twists. With one nomination to its credit and now in a second year of eligibility, the Cookie hasn’t crumbled yet.
“Game of Thrones” — HBO
Globe voters took a pass on nominating seasons two and three, but it’s hard to imagine the reigning Emmy drama champion not securing a return trip this year. Still, the ultimate trophy has thus far eluded the HBO juggernaut, with voters preferring to anoint rookies.
“Mr. Robot” — USA
Last year’s Golden Globe champ can certainly count on another nomination. Critics may have been divided on the USA hacker drama’s mind-bending sophomore season, but there’s no denying the riveting performance delivered by Emmy winner Rami Malek — and last year’s Globe winner Christian Slater.
“Narcos” — Netflix
The exploits of Colombian cocaine king Pablo Escobar guided Netflix’s drug-dealing drama to a Globe nomination last year. Given the life-and-death (spoiler alert) stakes of the second season — and the bilingual storytelling — the cartel case can likely expect to be recognized again.
“Outlander” — Starz
The historical fantasy made its mark on the Globes last year with nominations for drama and its lead actress. So it’s likely to make a return appearance to the list, after a second season that saw elaborate Parisian costumes alongside brutal Scottish battles and the heartstopping time-travelling romance fans tune in for.
“Stranger Things” — Netflix
Given its ’80s vibe and genre theme, “Stranger Things” may not seem an obvious awards contender, but the HFPA may want to embrace the summer’s breakout hit to prove its in-the-know cred. Stranger things have happened at the Globes, indeed.
“This Is Us” — NBC
The buzz began with the pilot and hasn’t relented, as creator Dan Fogelman has revived the broadcast family drama — and has millions reaching for tissues every week, with its heartrending, twisty narrative. With NBC and 20th putting their awards muscle behind this contender, voters will find it hard to resist a rare feel-good drama.
“Westworld” — HBO
The premium cabler has had an impressive run with dramas at the Globes, except for a rare blip in 2013. HBO has long been looking for an heir to “Game of Thrones” and may well have found it with the sci-fi western, given the ambitious scope and powerhouse star turns from the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood.
ALSO IN THE MIX: Peak TV has offered a literal onslaught of credible new contenders including Amazon’s “Goliath” and “Good Girls Revolt” (plus season two of “The Man in the High Castle”), Hulu’s “Chance” and “The Path,” Showtime’s “Billions,” OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” and Louis C.K.’s passion project “Horace and Pete.”
Past nominees eligible again this year also include Showtime’s “The Affair,” Netflix’s “House of Cards,” and the final seasons of PBS’ “Downton Abbey” and CBS’ “The Good Wife,” while AMC’s “Better Call Saul” is seeking its first nom after being overlooked last year.
TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL or COMEDY
“Atlanta” — FX
The year’s most critically acclaimed new comedy, Donald Glover’s breakthrough half-hour would seem like a natural fit to contend in the category. But last year Netflix’s similarly hailed “Master of None” missed out on a series nom (while landing a nom for star Aziz Ansari). Either way, it’s a good bet Glover will be represented somehow.
“Black-ish” — ABC
Last year, all six of the HFPA nominees were from digital outlets or HBO. The year before, The CW’s “Jane the Virgin” was the only network nominees. There’s no question the traditional broadcasters are trending down at the Globes. But one of the best bets would be ABC’s zeitgeisty comedy, which draws acclaim for its take on social issues as much as its humor.
“Catastrophe” — Amazon
In many ways this British import fits the classic Golden Globe model: It’s buzzy, has a fervent cult following, foreign roots, and originates on a hot alternative outlet. Stars-creators Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney could pop up in the acting categories, too, for the show’s eligible second season.
“Divorce” — HBO
“Catastrophe” creator Sharon Horgan has two horses in this race, the other being this brand new series toplining Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church. While critical response has been mixed, the recognizable stars could give it an edge over better received time-slot companion “Insecure.”
“The Good Place” — NBC
See “Black-ish” above for the odds of any network series in this race. But NBC’s witty, serialized look at the afterlife may be best positioned among all network contenders thanks to strong reviews, a fresh approach, the pedigree of creator Mike Schur (whose “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” are a past nominee and winner, respectively), and likeable star (and likely nominee) Kristen Bell.
“Mozart in the Jungle” — Amazon
Last year’s surprise winner is back in the race and is looking to prove whether it’s a show similar to “Girls” and “Glee” that earns multiple noms, or a show like “Ugly Betty” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” that wins once and is never nominated again.
“Orange Is the New Black” — Netflix
Now firmly entrenched in the drama categories after starting as a comedy at the Emmys, the prison dramedy has gone the reverse course at the Globes. It’s been a comedy series nominee the past two years, but while the most recent season was one of the show’s most acclaimed — and boasted a lot of laughs — it was also arguably the most emotionally devastating.
“Silicon Valley” — HBO
With back-to-back noms the uber-smart satire should be a safe bet for a third, and possibly land leading man and Emmy nominee Thomas Middleditch his first Globe nom, but increased competition from new series always makes it a challenge for category veterans to maintain their place.
“Transparent” — Amazon
The winner in 2015 and a nominee again for season two, Amazon’s dramedy won’t be as fresh to Globe voters as it once was. But the series continues to enjoy rave reviews and is unlike anything else on television. Its biggest threat may come from newer titles on offer from the streaming service.
“Veep” — HBO
Despite winning Emmys for two consecutive years now, the political satire had never been nominated for a series Globe until last year (and Emmy-bait star Julia Louis-Dreyfus still hasn’t won a Globe for her role). That makes a repeat nomination this year less of a sure thing than it might seem.
ALSO IN THE MIX: Hulu’s “Casual” was a surprise nominee and could return this year, although numerous newcomers including HBO’s “Insecure,” Amazon’s “One Mississippi” and “Fleabag,” FX’s “Better Things,” and even ABC’s “Speechless” are waiting to nab that “surprise” slot.
Some might expect Netflix’s Emmy-nominated “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to land a nom, but it was MIA last year. This year, the streamer has a truly unconventional contender in “The Get Down,” which could overcome mixed reviews to remind everyone of the little discussed “musical” side of the category’s title.
LIMITED SERIES or MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
“All the Way” — HBO
Last year was the first since 1990 that HBO didn’t have a nominee in this category (one it usually wins). This sweeping period epic about Lyndon Johnson’s presidency represents one of its top bets this year.
“American Crime” — ABC
Nominated in three categories last year, the topical drama hopes to repeat in season two and draw what would likely be among the very few noms for a broadcast network this year. Flashier competition could stand in the way.
“Confirmation” — HBO
Although overshadowed by “All the Way” at the Emmys, this tale of sexual harassment in Washington, D.C., boasts a Golden Globe-nominated leading lady in Kerry Washington and an even greater connection to the zeitgeist than it did when it premiered earlier this year.
“Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life” — Netflix
Unlike the Emmys, Globe voters at least acknowledged the original run of “Gilmore” (with a single nom for Lauren Graham in 2002). They may be even more keen to acknowledge the comeback, a series of four feature-length episodes spanning the course of a year.
“The Girlfriend Experience” — Starz
The cabler has done rather well with limited series and miniseries at the Globes, landing noms for entries as varied as “Dancing on the Edge,” “The White Queen,” and “Flesh & Bone.” The trend could continue with this bold adaptation of a Steven Soderbergh movie with an edgy lead turn from Riley Keough.
“The Night Manager” — AMC
A popular limited series event on both sides of the pond, this John Le Carre adaptation looks likely to land a slew of noms thanks to a high profile international cast and respected helmer Susanne Bier (whose 2010 “In a Better World” won best foreign film).
“The Night Of” — HBO
One of the year’s most talked about limited series, the adaptation of the U.K.’s “Criminal Justice” should be HBO’s ace in the sleeve to guarantee a return to this category. But it’s not the only buzzy courtroom drama in the race …
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” — FX
After dominating the Emmys, FX’s true crime serial may well dominate TV’s winter award season too, and should be a formidable Globes contender not just for multiple nominations, but also victories across multiple categories.
“Roots” — History
A few years ago this lavish update of Alex Haley’s iconic book would have been a lock for a nomination. But now that limited series production is booming it’s hard to tell where traditional minis like this fit into the race.
“Sherlock: The Abominable Bride” — PBS
Although star Benedict Cumberbatch has been nominated once, no “Sherlock” telepic has been nominated in this category. Will the year’s surprise Emmy champ, a solitary throwback mystery designed to bridge a gap between seasons, become the first?
ALSO IN THE MIX: Pedigree could be key for several contenders looking to upset: Anthony Hopkins teams with Ian McKellen in Starz’s “The Dresser,” Hulu’s “11.22.63” comes from J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, and James Franco, while Amazon’s “Crisis in Six Scenes” boasts the bizarre combination of Woody Allen and Miley Cyrus.
It might be a fluke, but only the odd number installments of FX’s “American Horror Story” have earned Globe noms in the series categories, which perhaps bodes poorly for “AHS: Roanoke” (season six), especially given the competition. Plus, if voters want to reward an offbeat genre show, they could switch to Netflix’s cult favorite, “Black Mirror.”