It’s easy to be cynical about the Golden Globes. So easy that it feels cheap, dumb and soul-killing to snark about them. But here we go anyway! The awards, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have long been integrity-challenged; the tales are numerous, ridiculous, Google-able. This isn’t to say the honor is worthless. But I would say that if a past winner were in sudden need of a doorstop and could only choose from the many different trophies on their mantle to perform that function, they should pick the Golden Globe. Unless they also happen to have a People’s Choice Award.
The Golden Globes might be absolutely meaningless as measures of critical consensus and artistic achievement—but the award is, nonetheless, a cultural icon denoting quality, and so it has value as a marketing tool for Hollywood studios looking to get attention for films that deserve to be seen. If an ad touting Golden Globes nominations for Boyhood gets you off your butt and into a movie theater to see Boyhood (please, do this!), or to knock on my door to borrow my screener (don’t do this, please), well, then, good on you, Golden Globes! You are an ends-justify-the-means credit to society. The CIA envies your raisins.
I am grateful for the Golden Globes for a few other reasons, too, like the chance to see the comedy duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in action, or the chance for a speech as culturally edifying as the one Jodie Foster gave in 2013, or the chance to sharpen my hate-tweeting skills, or be properly humbled. The Golden Globes can help change the cultural conversation for a deserving, under-appreciated film, show, or performer. Last year, when Andy Samberg won best actor in a comedy series for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I recall that the initial incredulous reaction (Who did the ‘D—k in a Box’ guy have to Pia Zadora to win that award?) was quickly met with a corrective response: “Are you actually watching the show? It’s good!” It was—and after the Golden Globes, it got even better, even if the sitcom (which also won Best Comedy from the HFPA) couldn’t quite sustain its post-GG ratings bounce. However, it did go on to be nominated last summer for two very prestigious EWwy Awards—which, by the way, also make for fine doorstops in a pinch.
The television portion of the Golden Globes has always felt like an excuse to pad the ceremony, giving it the three-hour runtime that all kudos-fests are apparently required to have. Coming so long after the end of one season (and the Emmys) and coming about halfway into the next, the timing is just weird. The nominations either feel moldy (we’re coming up on a full year since the premiere of True Detective, nominated for four Golden Globes) or premature, especially when pitted against proven heavyweights. (Again, see last year and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which had only aired 11 episodes when it received its nominations.)
Still, much as I appreciate the Golden Globes for shining a light on deserving, marketing-challenged movies, I appreciate the show for doing the same with under-seen, undervalued television series and performances. Here are seven nominations I am particularly grateful for:
Best Actress in a comedy series: Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin
Also nominated: Lena Dunham, Girls; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Taylor Schilling, Orange Is The New Black
I’ve fallen hard for Jane The Virgin, so I am most grateful for the recognition given to its superb, breakout star, Gina Rodriguez. You can always count on the Golden Globes for one shocker win, an almost deliberate attempt to make a buzzy mark on the culture with a bold choice, usually with a young or emerging talent. I predict Rodriguez will be the beneficiary this year.
Best Supporting Actress in series, miniseries, or TV movie: Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Also nominated: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show; Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey; Allison Janney, Mom; Michelle Monaghan, True Detective
This is a category that could have been and maybe should have been stocked entirely by actresses from Orange Is The New Black. The shocker here for me is Michelle Monaghan for True Detective. She was fine, but her character was also a much-discussed weak link that show’s otherwise strong game. I’m most grateful for the recognition given to Aduba, whose showcase episode this past season (“Hugs Can Be Deceiving”) was one of my favorites. I’m also grateful for the recognition given to Allison Janney. No, she’s not hurting for attention or more awards, but her show is: Mom is a small, sharp gem that deserves some love.
Best Supporting Actor in series, miniseries, or TV movie: Colin Hanks, Fargo
Also nominated: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart; Alan Cumming, The Good Wife; Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge; Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Obviously, we want to see Bill Murray win just to hear that speech. I immediately favor Alan Cumming in this category because I enjoy him so much on The Good Wife; that long look he gave the camera (eyes widening and face tweaking with epiphany) at the start of the season, when he told Alicia she should run for office, sticks with me. (I also greatly enjoy his intros for Masterpiece Mystery! Did you see the one for the first installment of Breathless? Hysterical. Best thing about that hour I’ll never get back.) But I’m most grateful for the recognition given to Colin Hanks, who shined as a meek cop-turned mailman-turned-dubious vigilante in Fargo’s clever skewering of anti-hero archetypes. That series does not work unless we believe Hanks’ character’s dumb choice to let Billy Bob Thornton get away in the premiere episode. We bought it, not because Billy Bob spooked us so well with that “Some roads you shouldn’t go down” speech, but because we believed in Colin’s response to it.
Best Actor, comedy series: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Also nominated: Louis CK, Louie; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Ricky Gervais, Derek; William H. Macey, Shameless
I am most grateful for the recognition given to my favorite performance in the year’s the best new show, and the year’s best show, period. But Tambor has always been a treasure, and I think it’s time for the awards circuit to give him some.
Best Comedy: Silicon Valley
Also nominated: Girls, Jane The Virgin, Orange Is The New Black, Transparent
Silicon Valley is the least of the nominees on this list; it should not win. At the same time, I am grateful that the Golden Globes recognized it: Mike Judge’s satire of tech culture has gigabytes of talent and potential that I didn’t think was fully realized in its first season. I can’t wait to see it try again with its second season.
Best Actress, Drama: Ruth Wilson, The Affair
Also nominated: Claire Danes, Homeland; Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Robin Wright, House of Cards
Strong. But I am most grateful for least well known of the bunch: Wilson’s performance in The Affair was a big reason I was so bullish on the Showtime psychodrama out of the gate.
Best Drama: The Good Wife
Also nominated: The Affair, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, , House of Cards
Not strong! No Mad Men? Where’s The Americans? And wither Rectify?! I know Golden Globes watched the Sundance Channel: Maggie Gyllenhaal got an acting nomination in the TV movie/mini-series category for the network’s The Honourable Woman. Surely one of those dramas could take Downton Abbey’s slot. I now feel the same way about Downton Abbey that General Motti felt about the Jedi in Star Wars: I simply do not understand the sad devotion to that ancient religion. Ack! (That was Darth Maggie Smith, choking me with The Force.) In a sketchy category, I am grateful for the recognition given to The Good Wife, which proves that in one regard, at least, the Golden Globes has better taste than a certain other, allegedly smarter TV award I know…