By Brad Pomerance
Special to TelevisionWeek
With last year’s winner, Frances Conroy of “Six Feet Under,” failing to receive a follow-up nomination, the race for the Golden Globe for Outstanding Dramatic Actress is wide open.
Consider the arguments for first-time honoree Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: SVU.” The show’s executive producer Neal Baer helps make her case: “It’s unusual for an actress in her sixth year of a series to receive her first nomination,” Mr. Baer said. “Typically, performers start off with nominations and then taper off by the sixth year. It’s a real testament to Mariska, whose character now gives her the opportunity to portray some extremely dramatic and emotional moments.”
Given that Ms. Hargitay received Emmy and Screen Actors Guild nominations during the past year for her depiction of Det. Olivia Benson, her Globe nomination was no surprise. Taking into account the momentum from these recent nominations, combined with the more intense and dramatic storytelling the program has recently offered her, the jury may indeed vote in favor of Ms. Hargitay.
On the other hand, the foreign press may choose to elect Christine Lahti for The WB’s “Jack & Bobby.” The organization has nominated her eight times over the years, and she has won two statues, most recently in 1998 for her work on “Chicago Hope.”
Ms. Lahti’s current role as an eccentric political matriarch offers her yet another complicated opportunity to demonstrate her talents. “My character is so incredibly complex,” she said. “She is often not likable, often frustrating. You love her and you hate her. She is deliciously human.”
Despite the foreign press’s proclivity to honor young programs like “Jack & Bobby,” Ms. Lahti faces stiff competition at the ballot box. Joely Richardson from “Nip/Tuck” has received her second nomination in a row, and the Globes voters seem smitten with her series. Both the program and lead actor Julian McMahon received nods in their respective categories this year. That momentum may be sufficient to dissect the competition and lead Ms. Richardson to victory come Jan. 16.
The two remaining nominees have already won Golden Globes for their current roles. The Hollywood Foreign Press has nominated Edie Falco of “The Sopranos” four times and awarded her two statues, in 2000 and 2003. Ms. Falco also has received three Emmy Awards for her work on the series.
Add to the mix that “The Sopranos” is ending its run on HBO, and the muscle behind Ms. Falco may be too great to keep her from snatching another top prize. Yet compared with Emmy voters, the foreign press seems less sentimental about rewarding performers at the end of a series run, which may mitigate her chances for a third victory for Ms. Falco.
Jennifer Garner from “Alias” won a Golden Globe in 2002 for her series’ freshman year, and has followed up with successive nominations over the following three seasons.
“I couldn’t be a bigger fan of this woman, personally and professionally,” said Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Primetime Entertainment. “Her contribution to this network has been extraordinary on every level. She is one of the most talented young actresses working today.”
She is also one of the busiest. Not only has Ms. Garner been a powerful force on “Alias,” she has also played important roles in some big studio films, with her upcoming “Elektra” entering promotional high gear even now. That aura of star quality could seduce voters into honoring Ms. Garner with yet another Globe for her work on this critically acclaimed series.