Will the Golden Globes Reward A-Listers (When Emmys Didn't)?

Kirsten Ulve

The HFPA, with a reputation for gravitating toward top-tier talent, could give a few movie-star names (from Gwyneth Paltrow to Jennifer Aniston) an awards boost for television roles while also coronating some rising stars.

The Hollywood Foreign Press' reputation for being easily starstruck is well deserved — nominate both Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for The Tourist, and these things will happen — if perhaps dated. Recent years have seen the Golden Globes push in the direction of increased legitimacy, especially on the TV side of the ledger, where a big name or two used to guarantee nominations.

Still, this year's Golden Globe nominations represent an opportunity for redemption of sorts for the rarified class of "movie stars" who deigned to partake in the explosion of quality and opportunity on the small screen, only to have their names fail to make the Emmy rolls this fall. Did the snubbing of marquee names contribute to record low ratings for Fox's telecast? Don't expect the Golden Globes to follow suit.

Though the lines between TV and movie stardom are verging on erased, medium-spanning A-listers looking for television nominations from the HFPA take several forms.

There are, of course, the no-brainers in regard to wattage. George Clooney's Catch-22 was a nonfactor at the Emmys, but when it comes to working the HFPA room, few do it better than the 2015 Cecil B. DeMille Award winner, who's so beloved that he once got writing and directing nominations for The Ides of March. Clooney's Catch-22 hopes can look to the precedent of his Ocean's 11 co-star Julia Roberts, who was nominated for a Globe last year for Amazon's Homecoming, only to vanish from the radar by the time Emmy voters weighed in. Clooney, beloved though he may be, is still a long shot.

Less likely to have to sweat out nomination morning is another Cecil B. DeMille winner, Meryl Streep, whose only impediment to a nomination for Big Little Lies may be voter distraction with all of the other stars in the HBO drama. Russell Crowe may not have a Cecil B. DeMille Award (yet), but he's another movie star who surely didn't encase himself in layers of unflattering latex for Showtime's The Loudest Voice not to get award nominations, even if reviews were merely tepid and some of the Fox News exposé thunder may be stolen by the Lionsgate feature Bombshell and its equally shimmering cast (led by Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie).

Does Gwyneth Paltrow bring enough star power for a Politician nomination? Can Paul Rudd overcome the general silence around Living With Yourself? Or is Netflix's biggest new star by Globes standards going to be After Life lead Ricky Gervais, returning to host an event that has rewarded his frequent roasting with such affection that he was even nominated for Derek?

Another form of stardom that the Golden Globes is likely to respect is pre-coronated favorites from other awards shows. After winning Oscars in February, Olivia Colman, Regina King and Mahershala Ali have had their profiles elevated through recognition for The Crown, Watchmen and True Detective, respectively, and two-time Mr. Robot nominee Rami Malek probably has helped his cause after his Oscar-winning turn in Bohemian Rhapsody. Fleabag didn't make the Golden Globes cut for its first season, but with her haul of Emmys, a Saturday Night Live hosting stint and breathless stories about her contributions to the James Bond universe, Phoebe Waller-Bridge probably has gone from outsider to inevitability.

All of this exposure certainly knocked Waller-Bridge out of that other favorite Golden Globes sweet spot, namely the star-on-the-rise coronation. She's already arrived, but the blend of ascending film and television credits may be perfect for the likes of Zendaya, who won't be a player for Spider-Man: Far From Home but should be well positioned for her image-defying work in HBO's Euphoria. Might Ben Platt, not a movie star but a revered Tony Award winner for Dear Evan Hansen, next-big-thing himself into the comedy actor field for The Politician? With previous Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, Dickinson star Hailee Steinfeld may be closer to "arrived" than "rising," though she shares a lot of Zendaya's red carpet-friendly, jack-of-all-trades appeal.

Even beyond Steinfeld, perhaps no entity is counting on the HFPA's embrace of stardom more than Apple TV+. Remember all of those mixed reviews for the entirety of the Apple TV+ four-show launch in early November? A near-inevitable nomination for The Morning Show star Jennifer Aniston, returning to TV, would be a heck of a salve, and additional noms for Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup would offer validation aplenty. Steinfeld and the Morning Show gang are Apple TV+'s best hopes of riding name recognition to Globes glory, unless voters prove unexpectedly impressed by Aquaman (Jason Momoa of See) or RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman of For All Mankind).

Or maybe the HFPA will just use the television nominations to celebrate smaller names like Ramy Youssef of Ramy, Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine of PEN15, or Akili McDowell of David Makes Man? While that move would put the "HFPA Loves Stars!" narrative to rest for good, it's not the business the Golden Globes are in, even if the truth is that any awards show highlighting the best of television in 2019 would embrace both extremes.

This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.