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The 2019 Golden Globes: How the Small Screen Grew Big All of a Sudden
January 4, 2019  | By Alex Strachan  | 2 comments

A new year, another awards season.

The 2019 Golden Globes are Sunday (NBC, 8 p.m. ET from Beverly Hills, with hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh). And the days when the TV awards were an afterthought to the main event — which movie will emerge as the frontrunner to win next month’s Oscar for Best Picture — have gone the way of the movie western.

In a year that gave us The Americans, Bodyguard, Killing Eve, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Barry — all nominated for best TV drama or comedy —  the small screen has definitely come of age artistically speaking, even if mainstream TV audiences continue to favor NCIS, The Voice, and The Big Bang Theory.

On the movie side, Black Panther, A Star is Born, Vice, Crazy Rich Asians, Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody have grabbed the lion’s share of Golden Globe attention. Even here, though, it’s hard to escape TV’s influence over the big screen, rather than the other way around. Rami Malek, nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture -- Drama, for Bohemian Rhapsody (right), could just as easily have been nominated for his searing performance in the movie remake of Papillon — and yet, it was on the small screen, in Mr. Robot, that he made his name.

And while Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians have done their part for diversity when one thinks of diversity in entertainment, it’s the small screen — Black-ish, to cite just one example — that led the way and continues to lead the way. Olivia Colman — remember Broadchurch? — is up for best actress in a movie comedy, for The Favourite.

And while Lady Gaga is the clear favorite to win Best Actress in a Movie – Drama for A Star Is Born — she’s a bona fide star in the music industry, after all — it was in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story where she initially proved her acting chops.

Ryan Murphy is a key name here because his FX miniseries The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (left) appears poised to run the table, much as his People v. O.J. Simpson did in 2016, despite its impossible title. (No movie could ever be released with a title like that in movie theaters today, not like 1963 when It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World paired Spencer Tracy alongside Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winters.)

Murphy originally made his bones on the small screen, with Glee, Nip/Tuck, and American Horror Story, but his big-screen effort Eat, Pray, Love, flopped with critics, despite being a success at the box office, relatively speaking. The critics are often wrong, but not where the cultural conversation is concerned. No one talks about Eat, Pray, Love anymore — not the movie, anyway — but almost anything Murphy does for the small screen is a lightning rod for conversation, on social media and wherever people get together to talk about what they saw on TV the previous night.

You have to look at the award hosts, too. Both Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh come from TV; Oh could quite easily win for Killing Eve, despite stiff competition from fellow TV nominees Elisabeth Moss (Handmaid’s Tale), Keri Russell (The Americans) and, speaking of Eat, Pray, Love, Julia Roberts (Homecoming).  Julia Roberts is as big a movie star as there is. She hails from an era when it would have been unthinkable for any movie actor, regardless of their star status, to slum on the small screen.

It isn’t just HBO, FX, and Showtime, either: Homecoming (left) is part of a brave new TV world that includes streaming services Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, and soon-to-arrive Apple TV.

As Hollywood movies grow bigger — “tentpole” is now a word, and franchise movies Avengers: Infinity War, Jurassic World, Deadpool 2 and Incredibles 2 make more money in a week than most movies used to in a year — TV dramas become more private and intimate.

If the culture-defining, and award-winning, art-house movies of the early ‘70s were made today, they would be made for Netflix and HBO. (Little known fact: When FX president John Landgraf signed off on Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story in 2011, he cited Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 indie film Don’t Look Now as a primary inspiration. Landgraf told a writer for TV Worth Watching, privately, that he envisioned American Horror Story as a tense, driven supernatural thriller in the vein of Don’t Look Now, a small-screen tale that would both grab an audience with its intense, tightly wound story and be made with an adult sensibility and real cinematic style. In Murphy, he found a kindred spirit.)

James Cameron’s Titanic could only have been made for the big screen, but in the past year the small screen gave us The Terror, AMC’s slow and yet often gripping account of Sir John Franklin’s catastrophic 1845 Arctic expedition through Canada’s Northwest Passage; HMS Terror was one of two ships to be crushed in fast-forming pack ice, hundreds of miles from rescue. (There were 129 crew members aboard the two ships; unlike, say, on the Titanic, there were no survivors. Try telling that story on the movie screen, with a big tub of popcorn and a $6.29 cup of Coke.)

The Terror (right) wasn’t merely an exercise in artistic self-indulgence, either. The aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes gave Terror a consensus rating of five stars, based on 55 reviews, with a “Tomatometer” reading of 95% and an audience score of 86%. It doesn’t get much better than that, even if your name is James Cameron.

And then there was the season finale of The Americans — also from FX — that not only earned praise and, more importantly, respect from TV Worth Watching’s stable of writers, but also landed Golden Globe nominations for outstanding drama and actor Matthew Rhys (already an Emmy winner, for the same performance) and Keri Russell.

The winner of Sunday’s Golden Globe for best movie drama will likely go on to win the Best Picture Oscar on Feb. 26, and there its story will end.

Already, though, the small-screen conversation revolves around when will Bodyguard and Killing Eve return for a second season, and why do I have to wait so long?

Best Television Series – Drama  
The Americans
Killing Eve
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama  
Caitriona Balfe (Outlander)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Julia Roberts (Homecoming)
Keri Russell (The Americans)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama  
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Stephan James (Homecoming)
Richard Madden (Bodyguard)
Billy Porter (Pose)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy  
Barry (HBO)
The Good Place (NBC)
Kidding (Showtime)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown)
Alison Brie (Glow)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Debra Messing (Will & Grace)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (Kidding)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
The Alienist (TNT)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Sharp Objects (HBO)
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams (Sharp Objects)
Patricia Arquette (Escape at Dannemora)
Connie Britton (Dirty John)
Laura Dern (The Tale)
Regina King (Seven Seconds)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso)
Daniel Bruhl (The Alienist)
Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose)
Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects)
Penelope Cruz (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)
Kieran Culkin (Succession)
Edgar Ramirez (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal)
Henry Winkler (Barry)
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Alex S.
Point taken. I could've covered myself by saying "leading the way in onscreen diversity," but you're right. The theater scene — or "theatre" if you're from across the pond, or north of the 49th — is where it's at. Cheers. And tnx for reading. -A.
Jan 5, 2019   |  Reply
I agree with most of what you say except for tv leading the way in diversity. I believe theater, with the most obvious platform B'way, is a far better choice. The person with the most acting Tonys, Audra MacDonald, is a woman of color. None of the award shows for tv or movies come close to that claim. Also, theater tries to be more colorblind in its casting. Not that it always succeeds but it is still ahead of tv and movies.
Jan 5, 2019   |  Reply
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