By Brad Pomerance
Special to TelevisionWeek
If the Hollywood Foreign Press Association strives for one thing, it is to always have a glamorous Golden Globes ceremony. This year is no different-especially when you consider the nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press does what the Emmys do so shamelessly in this category-nominate film stars in order to up the glamour quotient,” said David Kronke, Television Critic for the Los Angeles Daily News. And did the Globe voters ever nominate top Hollywood pedigrees.
Halle Berry was nominated for her role in the Oprah Winfrey-produced “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which was a ratings hit for ABC. Ms. Berry has taken home an Oscar, an Emmy and a Globe. Cynthia Nixon grabbed a nomination for HBO’s “Warm Springs.” She has won an Emmy, and this nomination marks her fifth Golden Globe nod. Mira Sorvino, nominated for Lifetime’s “Human Trafficking,” has claimed one trophy each from the Oscars and the Globes.
The nomination that seems to be garnering the most buzz is hardly a high-profile name: S. Epatha Merkerson, for her performance in HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues.” Ms. Merkerson already pulled off an upset at the Emmys, beating Ms. Berry and Ms. Nixon as well as Blythe Danner, nominated for CBS’s “Back When We Were Grownups,” and Debra Winger, nominated for Lifetime’s “Dawn Anna.”
“The critics went crackers over her. It was one of the standout performances for the entire television year. She gave the kind of knockout performance that critics will be talking about five years from now. This was a career caper for her,” said Tom O’Neil, columnist for the Los Angeles Times’ awards Web site, theenvelope.com.
“Epatha Merkerson is an actress with no public recognition and an unpronounceable name. This nomination demonstrates how serious the Globes can be about recognizing artistic achievement over star wattage,” Mr. O’Neil said. Then again, how can the Globes not give Ms. Merkerson the win? “I think they’ll give the trophy to Ms. Merkerson, if only to find out what she would have said on Emmy night,” Mr. Kronke said. At the Emmys Ms. Merkerson lost her acceptance speech down the front of her dress.
As for the men, it is noteworthy that two of the nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television depicted historical figures-Kenneth Branagh as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in HBO’s “Warm Springs” and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in CBS’s “Elvis.” Still, the critics appreciated these performances when traditionally actors who have played historical figures have done so at their own peril.
“Mr. Meyers wasn’t bad as Elvis, which is tough because if you don’t exude that requisite charisma, you just look stupid,” Mr. Kronke said. And mind you, Mr. Rhys-Meyers received his Golden Globe nomination before the feature film “Match Point” was released. “This nomination came out before Mr. Meyers’ breakout performance in ‘Match Point,’ which he was not nominated for. But the Globes made it up to him with this nomination for playing an American icon,” Mr. O’Neil said.
Let us not forget the patriarch of Golden Globe royalty, Donald Sutherland, the father of the often-nominated Kiefer Sutherland. Donald has received six Golden Globe nominations-at least one in each of the last four decades, dating to 1971 for his role in the feature film “M*A*S*H.” He has won two Golden Globes, both times for his performance in a telepicture-as best supporting actor in HBO’s 1995 program “Citizen X” and HBO’s 2003 entrant, “Path to War.”
This year the elder Sutherland received two nominations-one for his supporting role in ABC’s “Commander in Chief” and the other for his leading role in Lifetime’s “Human Trafficking.” Double nominations in a single year often cause Globe voters to fail to coalesce around a single category for the twice-nominated performer, resulting in a shut-out for that two-time nominee. Nevertheless, “The Golden Globes has sure become a family affair for the Sutherlands,” Mr. O’Neil said.