Golden Globes Predictions: Who’s Going to Win and Why?

“The Shape of Water” or “The Post”? “Get Out” or “Lady Bird”? “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “The Crown”?

Last Updated: January 4, 2018 @ 11:22 PM

Yes, there will be surprises at the 75th Golden Globe Awards on Sunday evening. There always are at the Golden Globes.

With only about 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association casting ballots, the Globes are simply too dependent on the whims of a few voters to make for easy predictions. A dozen votes here and there can make a huge difference, dumping presumed frontrunners in favor of hot dark horses and upsetting lots of careful prognosticating.

But it’s also worth noting that the oft-maligned HFPA has for the large part made reasonable, even smart choices in recent years — and as a group that has been the butt of jokes for decades, they’re not anxious to provide more fodder for their critics.

So we can expect a string of eminently defensible choices on Sunday, along with a few of the surprises that will always pop up when you entrust high-profile decisions to a group that’s smaller than, say, the United States Senate.

And less predictable, too.

Here’s what I think will happen:

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Nominees:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Dunkirk”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

“Dunkirk” is big and bold and “The Post” is serious and timely, but the film with the most Globe nominations, “The Shape of Water,” is gloriously imaginative filmmaking whose biggest competition might have been two films that ended up being categorized as comedies, “Get Out” and “Lady Bird.”

Winner: “”The Shape of Water””

BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Nominees:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Gary Oldman is revered, under-recognized and overdue, and “Darkest Hour” gives him the kind of showcase that voters should celebrate. But his first Globe nomination is hardly a sure win, because he’s been an outspoken critic of the HFPA in the past, even calling for a boycott at one point. He changed his tune this year and said he was “very proud” of the nomination. If voters forgive and forget, he wins; if not, Timothée Chalamet could easily score an upset. Here’s betting the HFPA takes the high road.

Winner: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Nominees:
Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Michelle Williams, “All the Money in the World”

Meryl Streep provided the highlight of last year’s Globes show, but the Cecil B. DeMille award was probably thank-you enough. This one is probably between Sally Hawkins and Frances McDormand – and while Hawkins gives a radiant wordless performance in “The Shape of Water,” who the heck can say no to McDormand and “Three Billboards?”

Winner: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
“The Disaster Artist”
“Get Out”
“The Greatest Showman”
“I, Tonya”
“Lady Bird”

“Lady Bird” could win if voters want to send a message in a year where women are claiming their spot in Hollywood. “Get Out” could win if voters aren’t gun-shy after all the criticism the HFPA received for accepting it as a comedy. “The Disaster Artist” could even win if they just want to have fun. I give a narrow edge to “Get Out,” only because the film with the most critics’ awards tends to get a Globe, too.

Winner: “Get Out”

BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Hugh Jackman, “The Greatest Showman”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

While Hugh Jackman could help the HFPA insist that the “musical” part of the category name actually means something, this is probably between Daniel Kaluuya and James Franco. And Franco has been omnipresent in the last month, charming everybody who gets near his movie – and while “Disaster Artist” might not be as important as “Get Out,” it’s pretty irresistible.

Winner: James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Helen Mirren, “The Leisure Seeker”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”

If the Globes didn’t have separate drama and musical/comedy acting categories, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are probably the only nominees who’d be contending for a spot in a single category. And Ronan is the only one who’d be contending to win.

Winner: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nominees:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me by Your Name”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Sam Rockwell’s performance is strong and strange enough that he could pull off an upset, and Christopher Plummer is a real contender because he’d be the HFPA’s way of saluting Ridley Scott for his audacious last-minute reshoot with Plummer stepping into the role originally played by Kevin Spacey. But three nominations might be enough of a salute for Scott’s (and Plummer’s) film, leaving the path clear for Willem Dafoe to pick up yet another award for “The Florida Project.”

Winner: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nominees:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Hong Chau, “Downsizing”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

While Mary J. Blige and Hong Chau have a shot and everybody loves Octavia Spencer, this will probably come down to a pair of actresses playing moms who clashed with their daughters. Laurie Metcalf has a couple of softer, redemptive moments in “Lady Bird,” which should give her the edge over Allison Janney’s mom from hell in “I, Tonya.”

Winner: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:
Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Ridley Scott, “All the Money in the World”
Steven Spielberg, “The Post”

Ridley Scott’s movie isn’t even nominated for best picture, so it’s hard to imagine him winning here. Spielberg might do it, but the race is probably between the guys responsible for the boldest, biggest movies, Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk” and Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water.” “Dunkirk” feels a bit like old news by now, so look for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to give this to the director for whom English is a second language.

Winner: Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Nominees:
Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, “The Shape of Water”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Liz Hannah & Josh Singer, “The Post”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game”

A tight race between Greta Gerwig and Martin McDonagh might just be tipped in Gerwig’s direction by the fact that her screenplay, based on her own teenage years, is more heartfelt – and also by the fact that the HFPA might owe her one, since she wasn’t nominated for Best Director.

Winner: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees:
Carter Burwell – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Alexandre Desplat – “The Shape of Water”
Jonny Greenwood, “Phantom Thread”
John Williams, “The Post”
Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”

Jonny Greenwood’s demented piano music would be the adventurous choice, John Williams’ the safest possible one. But this should go to Hans Zimmer for the bold “Dunkirk” or Alexandre Desplat for the evocative “The Shape of Water.” Look for emotion to take the day.

Winner: Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Nominees:
“Home” from “Ferdinand”
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound”
“Remember Me” from “Coco”
“The Star” from “The Star”
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”

They could give the award to stars like Nick Jonas (“Home”), Mary J. Blige (“Mighty River”) or Mariah Carey (“The Star”), and they might be tempted to do just that. But the two songs from musical-theater teams mean the most to their films, and we suspect that Pasek and Paul’s showstopper “This Is Me” will narrowly edge out Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s touching “Remember Me.”

Winner: “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”

BEST MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED
Nominees:
“The Boss Baby”
“The Breadwinner”
“Coco”
“Ferdinand”
“Loving Vincent”

Can anything beat Pixar’s “Coco?” Don’t count on it, unless the oil-painting technique used in “Loving Vincent” is even more impressive than we realize. But look: “Cars 2” is the only Pixar movie to be nominated and lose a Golden Globe to a non-Pixar movie, and “Coco” is no “Cars 2.”

Winner: “Coco”

BEST MOTION PICTURE – FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Nominees:
“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“First They Killed My Father” (Cambodia)
“In the Fade” (Germany/France)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“The Square” (Sweden/Germany/France)

Last year, the Globes got to look bolder than the Oscars by voting for Paul Verhoeven’s transgressive “Elle,” which didn’t even make the Oscar shortlist. This year, they could go for another Oscar castoff if they vote for Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” and celebrate a big star in the process. But that won’t make them look bold, it’ll make them look like star-fluffers – and they’re tired of those kind of wisecracks. “The Square” should edge out “A Fantastic Woman.”

Winner: “The Square”

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Nominees:
“The Crown”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Stranger Things”
“This Is Us”

In the TV categories, HFPA voters love to salute new shows, and to go a different route than the Emmys. The first of those won’t be difficult, but the second will be – “The Handmaid’s Tale” was the big winner at the Emmys, but it feels too much like the show of the moment for the Globes to shy away just because the Television Academy likes it too.

Winner: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
“Black-ish”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Master of None”
“SMILF”
“Will and Grace”

It’ll be easy to go for a new show in this category, too – but which one, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” or “SMILF?” Maybe the former, which had a splashy debut just as the HFPA was voting.

Winner: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

BEST LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Nominees:
“Big Little Lies”
“Fargo”
“Feud: Bette and Joan”
“The Sinner”
“Top of the Lake: China Girl”

The voters reportedly loved “The Sinner,” but this is probably another category where the reigning Emmy champ will be too much of an event to ignore. But there’s one potential snag: Now that HBO has announced a second season, “Big Little Lies” should really be in the drama-series category – and if voters feel as if they’re victims of category fraud, “The Sinner” could stage an upset here.

Winner: “Big Little Lies”

BEST ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Nominees:
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Freddie Highmore, “The Good Doctor”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”

Sterling K. Brown could well win for “This is Us,” but I suspect voters will want someone from a slightly newer show – either Jason Bateman for “Ozark” or Freddie Highmore for “The Good Doctor.”

Winner: Jason Bateman, “Ozark”

BEST ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Nominees:
Catriona Balfe, “Outlander”
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Deuce”
Katherine Langford, “13 Reasons Why”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Maggie Gyllenhaal gets “newest, hottest show” points for “The Deuce,” but even the HFPA knows this is the year of Elisabeth Moss.

Winner: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

BEST ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
Kevin Bacon, “I Love Dick”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Eric McCormack, “Will and Grace”

Voters apparently really liked the revived “Will and Grace,” so Eric McCormack is a contender. Aziz Ansari is always a cool choice. And Kevin Bacon is not only a star, he’ll let some lucky presenter say “I Love Dick” on national television.

Winner: Kevin Bacon, “I Love Dick”

BEST ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Nominees:
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Alison Brie, “GLOW”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Frankie Shaw, “SMILF”

There are lots of fresh new faces on fresh new shows in this category, and you could make a case for any of them winning. But as creator, showrunner and star of a late-breaking show, maybe Frankie Shaw has a slight edge over Rachel Brosnahan.

Winner: Frankis Shaw, “SMILF”

BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
Jude Law, “The Young Pope”
Kyle MacLachlan, “Twin Peaks”
Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”

Fresh new faces? Not so much. In a category filled with esteemed veterans, look for the most veteran and most esteemed to take the prize.

Winner: Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”

BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Nominees:
Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”
Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”

Yes, this should be an easy win for Nicole Kidman, who already has the Emmy for her performance in “Big Little Lies.” But voters know it’s not really a limited series, and they do love Jessica Biel and “The Sinner,” so this is an upset waiting to happen.

Winner: Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Nominees:
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Alfred Molina, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
David Thewlis, “Fargo”

The supporting categories mix drama and comedy series with limited series and TV movies, which means that qualms about where “Big Little Lies” belongs are meaningless here. That’ll help Alexander Skarsgard, who had the most eye-catching, um, part of the season.

Winner: Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Nominees:
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lies”
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies”

And the absence of potential category fraud will also help Laura Dern at the end of a year in which everybody finally kind of figured out that Laura Dern rocks.

Winner: Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”