Golden Globes TV Predictions: Bold Picks in Every Category

Ben Travers
·15 min read

Snow has been accumulating for months, but the winter awards season is finally ramping up. On Wednesday, February 3, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will announce the nominees for the 2021 Golden Globe Awards. Out of tradition more than respect for our collective impatience, the announcement will be made bright and early Wednesday, February 3 at 5 a.m. PT, and a coffee-infused batch of nominees, networks, and awards journalists will do their best to react properly.

So, who can expect a cheery wake-up call? Anne Thompson has already posted IndieWire’s Golden Globe predictions on the film front, and below you can find our expectations for TV. The pandemic continues to cause disarray, as many perennial contenders saw production delays that pushed them out of eligibility. That means “Succession” won’t defend its Best Drama Series title, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won’t be back in the Comedy mix, and Apple TV+ will have to find a contender outside “The Morning Show” to keep its hot hand with the HFPA afire.

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Below, check out IndieWire’s TV predictions in all categories, and check back first thing Wednesday morning for analysis of the full results. Winter is finally here. Welcome.

Best TV Series – Drama

1. “The Mandalorian”
2. “The Crown”
3. “Lovecraft Country”
4. “Perry Mason”
5. “The Boys”

Spoilers: “Ozark,” “Bridgerton,” “Ratched,” “Killing Eve”

In a Perfect World: “P-Valley,” “Better Call Saul,” “We Are Who We Are,” “The New Pope,” “Billions,” “Tales From the Loop”

Arguably, only two of the five possible Best Drama nominees are locks: “The Crown” has proven its endurance with the HFPA, earning a nomination in this category for each of its three previous seasons, and “The Mandalorian” is still the biggest show on television. (The Globes may even want to make a statement by crowning the Disney+ series best in class, but that’s a conversation for after the nominations.) So what else can make the cut? Two HBO dramas are eager for awards coronation, and both “Lovecraft Country” and “Perry Mason” are likely to get it. While Netflix could push “Bridgerton” through on the back of great reviews, period production allures, and strong viewership — it just doesn’t feel like an HFPA favorite. (And “Ozark” has never been to their taste either.) So I’m going with “The Boys” in slot No. 5, which, alongside “The Mandalorian,” would help cement TV blockbusters as serious awards contenders in the post-“Game of Thrones” era.

Best TV Series – Comedy or Musical

1. “Ted Lasso”
2. “The Flight Attendant”
3. “Schitt’s Creek”
4. “What We Do in the Shadows”
5. “The Great”

Spoilers: “Ramy,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” “Insecure,” “Pen15,” “Dead to Me,” “Never Have I Ever,” “Dave,” “Mythic Quest”

In a Perfect World: “Better Things,” “Sex Education,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Superstore,” “Kidding,” “Brockmire,” “Vida”

Zero — that’s right, none — of last year’s nominees are eligible in the Best Comedy or Musical Series category at the Golden Globes. (Can you believe “Fleabag” Season 2 went on its awards run just last year?) So expect a bunch of HFPA newbies to make their way into the race in 2021, starting with everyone’s favorite freshman series, “Ted Lasso.” Apple TV+ has pulled out all the stops to highlight their first bona fide breakthrough hit, and effusive word of mouth has kept the good vibes rolling. It would be an upset of incalculable proportions for the Globes to miss the chance to be the first major awards show to anoint Jason Sudeikis’ crowdpleaser an awards favorite, but what about the already anointed? “Schitt’s Creek” got the sweeping endorsement of the TV Academy in 2020, but the Pop TV original has never been nominated for a Golden Globe (not even after the Emmys first sparked to it in 2019). Is it too late, or will they hop on the bandwagon for one last romp? I’ll give the slight edge to another freshman favorite, “The Flight Attendant,” given it’s another yet-to-be-awarded newcomer, but the final three slots are more of a toss-up: It’s likely only one Hulu original will make the cut, so it’ll either be “Ramy” or “The Great” (or perhaps “Pen15?), while established programs like “Insecure,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” hope the HFPA has warmed to them in recent seasons.

Best TV Movie or Limited Series

1. “The Queen’s Gambit”
2. “The Undoing”
3. “Unorthodox”
4. “Normal People”
5. “I May Destroy You”

Spoilers: “Mrs. America,” “The Good Lord Bird,” “Small Axe,” “The Comey Rule,” “Fargo,” “Little Fires Everywhere”

In a Perfect World: “Bad Education,” “A Teacher,” “The Eddy,” “What the Constitution Means to Me,” “Devs”

If one show is destined to be the Golden Globes’ golden child of 2021, it’s “The Queen’s Gambit.” Hailed by critics, adored by fans, and featuring a star-making turn at its core, the October release is primed for awards dominance this winter — and it should start with the Globes. Other contenders have noticeable weak spots: “Unorthodox,” a subtitled Netflix series that broke out in the early months of the pandemic feels right up the HFPA’s alley, but it’s also been out for nearly a year. Age could also ding Emmy darlings FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. America” and Hulu’s “Normal People,” though the veteran star power of the former and budding breakouts in the latter may be enough to keep them in the mix. “The Undoing” is new and filled with A-list talent, but critics ravaged the six-episode limited series, especially after the finale. Meanwhile, HBO’s best program is “I May Destroy You.” Will they treat Michaela Coel’s knockout like fellow Brit Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag”? Here’s hoping.

Best Actress in a Drama Series

1. Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country”
2. Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
3. Emma Corrin, “The Crown”
4. Laura Linney, “Ozark”
5. Sarah Paulson, “Ratched”

Spoilers: Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”; Phoebe Dynevor, “Bridgerton”; Brandee Evans, “P-Valley”; Amanda Collin, “Raised by Wolves”

In a Perfect World: Jordan Seamón, “We Are Who We Are”; Christine Baranski, “The Good Fight”; Aya Cash, “The Boys”; Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”

Only two of last year’s five nominees remain eligible, so the Best Actress category is primed for turnover. Olivia Colman, the 2020 champ, should be safe, though fellow nominee Jodie Comer will have to wait and see how much sheen the HFPA still sees in “Killing Eve.” (Sandra Oh, a two-time winner, missed out last year.) Of the newcomers, Jurnee Smollett earned raves for “Lovecraft Country,” and Emma Corrin is coming on strong as the breakout of “The Crown”; the HFPA will have first dibs on awarding either hailed turn, and you know they love playing kingmaker. The same could be said for Sarah Paulson in “Ratched,” since it was released post-Emmys, but reviews were a bit less ravenous for Ryan Murphy’s latest. And perhaps Laura Linney’s amazing work in “Ozark” Season 3 could land the six-time nominee and two-time winner her first nod for the Netflix drama. Still, I wouldn’t count out the wild card: “Raised by Wolves” has the oddball factor going for it, both in the HFPA’s unpredictable tastes and its super strange sci-fi story. Plus, Ridley Scott directed and HBO Max needs some awards love. Perhaps Amanda Collin can sneak in, quiet as a… wolf.

Best Actor in a Drama Series

1. Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
2. Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason”
3. Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country”
4. Pedro Pascal, “The Mandalorian”
5. Al Pacino, “Hunters”

Spoilers: Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”; Antony Starr, “The Boys”; Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton”; Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

In a Perfect World: Nicco Annan, “P-Valley”; John Malkovich, “The New Pope”; Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”; Ben Mendelsohn, “The Outsider”

No matter who makes the final cut, this year’s batch of Best Actor nominees will be an intriguing bunch. On the one hand, there are plenty of breakouts who could steal the HFPA’s collective heart: Jonathan Majors became a star with the one-two summer punch of “Da 5 Bloods” and “Lovecraft Country,” while Regé-Jean Page warmed our cold, wintered hearts in “Bridgerton.” There’s also Nicco Annan’s showstopping turn in “P-Valley” and Josh O’Connor’s even more demanding sophomore year as Prince Charles, but they’ll have to sideline veteran favorites like Jason Bateman (who represents the only nominations for “Ozark’s” first two seasons) and the new “Perry Mason,” Matthew Rhys (who snagged two nominations himself for “The Americans”). Toss in rising stars on hit shows like Pedro Pascal (as if the HFPA would let performing behind a mask stop them from nominating the season’s most talked about actor) and “The Boys” baddie Antony Starr, and the competition is both fierce and wide-ranging. Get ready. There will undoubtedly be surprises.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

1. Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”
2. Elle Fanning, “The Great”
3. Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
4. Lily Collins, “Emily in Paris”
5. Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”

Spoilers: Issa Rae, “Insecure”; Jane Levy, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”; Awkwafina, “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens”; Maya Erskine, “Pen15”; Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, “Never Have I Ever”; Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”

In a Perfect World: Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”; America Ferrera, “Superstore”; Melissa Barrera, “Vida”; Regina Hall, “Black Monday”

Freshman series’ starlets face off with established legends of the comedy world in a Lead Actress race with lots of possibilities. The buzz-o-meter heavily favors “The Flight Attendant’s” Kaley Cuoco, who also produced her HBO Max hit, as well as Lily Collins of the recent (if brief) Netflix sensation “Emily in Paris.” There’s also the do-it-all, song-and-dance lead of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” Jane Levy, co-leads of “Pen15” Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, as well as the summer favorite Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, whose charm in “Never Have I Ever” certainly won’t wear off anytime soon. But then there’s question marks that shouldn’t be: Catherine O’Hara, coming off an Emmy win and still building her incredible career, has never been nominated for a Golden Globe. Will the final season of “Schitt’s Creek” be the year that breaks the streak? Pamela Adlon directs, produces, writes, stars, and does anything else she’s asked on behalf of “Better Things,” but the HFPA has yet to recognize her since the series’ debut. And what about Christina Applegate, who was nominated for “Dead to Me” last year, but sat in the Beverly Hilton as the show’s only invited guest? There are far more names worth considering, and what sways the HFPA will remain a mystery long after the final ballot is revealed.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

1. Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
2. Ramy Youssef, “Ramy”
3. Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
4. Nicholas Hoult, “The Great”
5. Dave Burd, “Dave”

Spoilers: Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”; Matt Berry, “What We Do in the Shadows”; Ricky Gervais, “After Life”; Rob McElhenney, “Mythic Quest”

In a Perfect World: Jim Carrey, “Kidding”; Asa Butterfield, “Sex Education”; Hank Azaria, “Brockmire”; Ben Feldman, “Superstore”

You have to like Sudeikis’ odds here, given the months-long outpouring of support for his Apple TV+ comedy, and Youssef, who returned with an equally strong turn in “Ramy” Season 2, is last year’s winner. With the Globes, that’s no guarantee, as the HFPA can move on from favorites in the blink of an eye, but those two remain at the top of the list. Eugene Levy, meanwhile, is now a four-time Emmy winner with zero Globe nods; how the voters respond (or don’t) to “Schitt’s Creek” final season will likely decide if his shutout continues. Similar questions hover over formerly snubbed shows like “What We Do in the Shadows” (Matt Berry) and “Black Monday” (Don Cheadle), which could see a spike in interest after other awards showed interest, as well as “Superstore” (Ben Feldman) and “Brockmire” (Hank Azaria), which are both very well-deserved and long overdue. But a couple of newcomers may have the edge: If the HFPA flips for “The Great,” Nicholas Hoult will be a shoo-in (with a good shot at winning), while Dave Burd is the buzzy outsider (with big ratings) who could prove a nice draw for the ceremony itself.

Best Actress in a TV Movie or Limited Series

1. Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit”
2. Shira Haas, “Unorthodox”
3. Nicole Kidman, “The Undoing”
4. Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You”
5. Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America”

Spoilers: Daisy Edgar-Jones, “Normal People”; Octavia Spencer, “Self-Made”; Kerry Washington, “Little Fires Everywhere”; Reese Witherspoon, “Little Fires Everywhere”

In a Perfect World: Naomie Harris, “The Third Day”; Zoe Kazan, “The Plot Against America”; Heidi Schreck, “What the Constitution Means to Me”

Three breakthrough stars look to leave this year’s Golden Globes with a trophy of their own. Anya Taylor-Joy appears to be in the driver’s seat, with “The Queen’s Gambit,” but Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”) and Michaela Cole (“I May Destroy You”) can’t be counted out. Meanwhile, icons Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”) and Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”) would be locks in any other year, but there are a lot of young talent driving conversation, including Daisy Edgar-Jones in “Normal People.” Limited series contenders are plentiful, so if the HFPA takes to a wild card option — like, say, “Little Fires Everywhere” — that could change the whole board.

Best Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series

1. Ethan Hawke, “The Good Lord Bird”
2. Hugh Grant, “The Undoing”
3. Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True”
4. Paul Mescal, “Normal People”
5. Bryan Cranston, “Your Honor”

Spoilers: Hugh Jackman, “Bad Education”; Jeff Daniels, “The Comey Rule”; Chris Rock, “Fargo”; Chris Evans, “Defending Jacob”

In a Perfect World: Hugh Jackman, “Bad Education”; Jude Law, “The Third Day”; André Holland, “The Eddy”; Nick Offerman, “Devs”

Will the Golden Globes offer Ethan Hawke the platform his tremendous lead turn in “The Good Lord Bird” demands? After a very strong response from critics, Showtime’s rousing limited series dropped quickly from the discourse, but Hawke seems undeniable, especially here. Mark Ruffalo, fresh off his Emmy win for “I Know This Much Is True,” and Hugh Grant, who does the heaviest lifting in “The Undoing,” should keep the pressure on, though perhaps here is where the Globes make their statement. Maybe they want to make sure people pay attention to newcomer Paul Mescal after “Normal People,” or perhaps they want to reward Bryan Cranston’s return to serialized leading man territory in Showtime’s other limited series, “Your Honor.” Hugh Jackman’s best performance to date is also sitting right there, waiting for its much deserved kudos, while Jeff Daniels (“The Comey Rule”) and Chris Rock (“Fargo”) hope their series made enough noise to be remembered by the voters.

Best Supporting Actress in a Series or TV Movie

1. Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
2. Marielle Heller, “The Queen’s Gambit”
3. Uzo Aduba, “Mrs. America”
4. Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”
5. Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”

Spoilers: Julia Garner, “Ozark”; Jessie Buckley, “Fargo”; Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”; Letitia Wright, “Small Axe”

In a Perfect World: Rhea Seehorn, “Better Call Saul”; Cynthia Erivo, “The Outsider”; Gillian Anderson, “Sex Education”; Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”; Aunjanue Ellis, “Lovecraft Country”; Amandla Stenberg, “The Eddy”

Many thought Helena Bonham Carter’s long wait for her first Golden Globe award would end in 2020, yet Patricia Arquette pushed back the coronation yet again. Now, the question of whether or not she wins has to wait until she gets her ninth nomination, a possibility but far from a certainty in 2021. She’ll have to contend with fellow “Crown” juggernaut Gillian Anderson, whose take on Margaret Thatcher earned raves, as well as “Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy, whose fate rests on whether or not the Globes finally spark to her Canadian comedy. Other excellent options include Uzo Aduba for “Mrs. America” (fresh off her Emmy win), Julia Garner in “Ozark” (coming off her second Emmy herself), and Jessie Buckley in “Fargo” (who, if there were any justice, would be a dual nominee for the FX anthology and Netflix’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”). But I’m betting the HFPA goes big on “The Queen’s Gambit,” including a much-deserved nod for Marielle Heller here.

Best Supporting Actor in a Series or TV Movie

1. Brendan Gleeson, “The Comey Rule”
2. Dan Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
3. Mahershala Ali, “Ramy”
4. John Boyega, “Small Axe”
5. Donald Sutherland, “The Undoing”

Spoilers: Tobias Menzies, “The Crown”; Tom Pelphrey, “Ozark”; Ben Whishaw, “Fargo”; Jim Parsons, “Hollywood”; Daveed Diggs, “The Good Lord Bird”

In a Perfect World: Glynn Turman, “Fargo”; Jude Law, “The New Pope”; Dylan McDermott, “Hollywood”; Ray Romano, “Bad Education”; Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; John Malkovich, “Space Force”; Michael Stuhlbarg, “Your Honor”

With all TV types eligible for the Supporting categories, let me tell you: It’s gonna be a real hodgepodge of actors. Given the HFPA’s love for Showtime programming, Brendan Gleeson seems like a safe bet for portraying Donald Trump in “The Comey Rule,” and the HFPA would have to really hate “Schitt’s Creek” not to nominate Dan Levy. But even those two don’t feel like bonafide sure-things, and neither do former winner Mahershala Ali (“Ramy”), “Star Wars” favorite John Boyega (“Small Axe”), two-time nominee Tobias Menzies (“The Crown”), or two-time winner Donald Sutherland (“The Undoing”). Tom Pelphrey’s big year (between key supporting roles in “Ozark” and “Mank”) could unseat any of the perceived leaders, as could awards favorites Ben Whishaw (“Fargo”) or Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”). For my money, I’d like to see Glynn Turman get some much-deserved love for “Fargo” and Jude Law recognized for “The New Pope,” but now we’re getting a bit too down the ballot to actually expect either.

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