The 2021 Golden Globes Underdogs and Overdogs
With female directors, Brits, and Netflix reigning (plus numerous new contenders involved), we can’t help but wonder: could the 2021 Golden Globes set the stage for the rise of the underdog? Right now it's hard to tell with so many overdogs still zealously marking their territory.
Personally, I'm a little jaded by the over-nominated overdogs (except for Nomadland), so I'm crossing everything (fingers, legs, etc.) for the underdogs and first-time nominees, aka the "new dogs." Some of you may even say they're just puppies, because they’re so new to the game. This comes with one exception: James Corden in Prom. (Couldn't he have just stayed in catworld as a cat trapped in a musical? Sigh.)
As I dive in and do an analysis of all of the categories, I'll pick out the underdogs (under-nominated), the overdogs (over-nominated), and my top dog (my personal favorite, regardless of overdog or underdog status). And I promise I'll stop the dog analogies any minute now.
Best Picture, Foreign Language
Top Dogs: Two of Us (with Minari in close second)
Underdogs: Two of Us, Minari, Another Round
Overdogs: La Llorona, The Life Ahead
Predicted Winner: The Life Ahead
This is a category full of underdogs, and I have a lot of love for them. Every film in this category explored the human condition in unique ways.
Two of Us was magical and a firm favorite of the year for me. Minari was exquisite and tender (like a good steak). It’s about a Korean-American family moving to a farm in Arkansas. And, Another Round with Mads Mikkelsen, is a quirky, fun tale of four teachers keeping a consistent level of alcohol in their bloodstream to improve their quality of life. Although, in the end, the film buried itself in its concept.
La Llorona, set to receive an Oscar nom as well, packs a horrific punch with its human horror. I believe it'll probably be a close contender with The Life Ahead, as Hollywood does love a white savior movie. I have to admit that Sophia Loren does breathe new life into a dated concept, and I’m mildly surprised she isn’t up for Best Actress for her role.
Best Picture, Animated
Top Dogs: Wolfwalkers (Soul is a close second, but I know it'll win).
Overdogs: Soul and Onward
Underdogs: Wolfwalkers, The Croods: A New Age, Over the Moon
Predicted Winner: Soul
I’m going to lie and say that the reason I let out 33 years of repressed tears, and belly laughed myself into a fit is because I have a kid. But I don't. One more confession: I laughed so hard watching this, that a 10-year-old actually told me to shut up. So there's that.
Soul will probably win, but Wolfwalker charmed my pants off and appealed to my inner kid.
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Top Dog: Nomadland
The Underdogs: Promising Young Woman, The Father
The Overdogs: Mank, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Predicted Winner: Nomadland
My top dog and overdog, Nomadland, had me enchanted and smiling up at the stars, proving to me that some overdogs do deserve to win. The Father packed a brutal punch and made me dizzy with its surreal descent. Mank left me a little ‘meh.' I was surprised by its mediocrity. The Trial of the Chicago 7 kept me on my toes with its pulpy take on a true story, and Promising Young Woman was very promising and punctuated with immense power.
Listen, I think they all deserve a place in the fight, but Mank will probably win... and be nominated for all the Oscars.
Top Dog: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) (with Regina King an inch behind for One Night in Miami)
The Underdogs: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Regina King (One Night in Miami)
The Overdogs: Dave Fincher (Mank), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Predicted Winner: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)
Anyone else get the feeling that Chloé Zhao will become a hoarder with huge biceps with all the awards she'll have to carry home? As the director of Nomadland, Zhao has become a cinematic chef with a solid recipe for gold. Her ingredients include Frances McDormand, an amazing resource in the form of a non-fiction book, and her own sparse and poignant screenwriting. She's bound to become a welcomed overdog in the years to come.
Emerald Fennell, showrunner of Killing Eve Season 2, has her first Golden Globe nomination for Promising Young Woman, a title that perfectly sums up her future as a director.
Also, can Regina King direct more great plays into screen gems? Her direction was impeccable, and her passion for the narrative came alive through her actors.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama
Overdogs and Top Dogs: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Underdogs: Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
Predicted Winner: Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Viola and Frances are my overdogs and my top dogs, and it's going to be like Sophie’s Choice for me to decide, so I won’t because can’t. August Wilson and Viola Davis? I mean, a joyful juxtaposition. Ma Rainey will always steal my heart with its stage portrayal, and that power is definitely translated to the screen. Viola Davis' monologues are delivered with such power, that it makes you feel like you could be feet away from her in a hushed theater soaking it all in.
Andra Day, a new nominee, truly does ‘Rise Up’ playing Billie Holiday in a screenplay by one of my favorite playwrights, Suzan-Lori Parks. She stands strong amongst her fellow nominees in Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, but I believe ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ when it comes to this one (sorry).
Vanessa Kirby is a new nominee and an underdog for Pieces of a Woman. Her portrayal of a traumatic birth in the first half of Pieces of Woman deserves its own notoriety. I still think she may remain an unfortunate underdog this year, but we'll see what the future holds for her.
Lastly, Carey Mulligan, nominated back in the day for An Education, gives us a killer rape revenge warrior with blood, sweat, and everything in between in Promising Young Woman.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture
Top Dog: Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
Overdogs: Gary Oldman (Mank)
Underdogs: Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian), Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
Chadwick Boseman, you are like the universe. You have no end or beginning, and you deserve to win for your final appearance on screen. It sent goose pimples down my spine, and it will make you the rightful star of every awards show in 2021.
It seems strange to call Anthony Hopkins an underdog, but Gary Oldman takes the overdog cake here as the beating heart of Mank, a true highlight.
Hopkins is a second favorite for me in this category overall, with new nom Tahar Rahim in third. Anthony Hopkin's delivery is effortless and is a masterclass in acting in The Father, while Tahar impresses in his role in The Mauritanian.
The shining star of HBO’s The Night Of, Riz Ahmed gets his first film nomination for Sound of Metal. Riz is entrancing on screen, giving you just enough of his character's inner workings to keep you wondering—and watching.
Best Picture for Musical or Comedy
Top Dog: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Underdog: Palm Springs, Music
Overdogs: Prom, Hamilton, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Predicted Winner: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
This category has really slim pickings for me. It’s like settling on an okay meal at a bad diner. Borat is an overdog in this category, but at least it put a smile (and constant shock) on my face. I adore Hamilton for its energy and effort. Sia’s movie, Music, has garnered so much controversy and alarm over its portrayal of autism, that it likely won't be able to come out from under it. Prom and Palm Springs were both good after a few glasses of wine, except for James Corden. As you've probably guessed by now, it's between Hamilton and Borat for the win.
Best Actress in a Musical Comedy
Top Dog: Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Underdog: Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot)
Overdogs: Kate Hudson (Music), Anna Taylor-Joy (Emma)
Predicted Winner: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
I’m really looking for a cheeseburger in a field of kale with this very white and very bland category. However, there's no real overdog in this category, mainly because for once Meryl Streep isn’t in it.
A highlight for me is the marvelous Michelle Pfeiffer in the surreal French Exit, which won me over with it’s wryness. I think Maria Bakalova deserves more than her earnings for what she was put through. And Rosamund Pike does play ‘crazy lady’ crazily well as a crooked caretaker stealing the savings of the elderly in I Cared a Lot.
Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Top Dogs and Overdogs: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father)
Underdogs: Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Helena Zengel (News of the World)
Predicted Winner: Olivia Colman (The Father)
This is where my favorites usually live, as I love a strong supporter. All the actresses in this category kill it in movies that I didn’t particularly love. Helena Zengel really gave a great performance in News of the World, adding strength to a weak movie. Amanda Seyfried was definitely the highlight of Mank for me. My overdogs Glenn Close and Olivia Colman give what they always give in these roles—their blood, sweat, and tears—and mesmerize every viewer. I think Olivia Colman takes the lead for her understated performance, putting her ahead of Glenn Close's slightly exaggerated performance.
Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Top Dog: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Underdog: Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Overdogs: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Jared Leto (The Little Things), Bill Murray (On the Rocks)
Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Ooo this is where talent lives! It’s a tough call and a tight race for a win in this category. For me, Sacha is the weaker one, giving a worthy yet slightly reductive performance in The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Jared Leto does psychopath very well yet again in Little Things, while Bill Murray was made for the part, as he always seems to be, in On the Rocks. Leslie Odom Jr. shows us why we should put stage stars on screen in One Night in Miami. And Daniel Kaluuya, basically deservedly nominated for everything he’s ever done since birth (except Queen and Slim), really gives a star performance in Judas and the Black Messiah.
Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama
Top Dog: Laura Linney (Ozark)
Overdogs: Olivia Colman (The Crown), Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Sarah Paulson (Ratched)
Underdog: Emma Corrin (The Crown)
Predicted Winner: Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Laura Linney has had a place in my heart since The Big C, and brings all kinds of range to Ozark. Olivia Colman is consistent, Jodie Comer is a master in changing characters and drives Killing Eve with her thrilling performance. I'm obsessed with Sarah Paulson and she serves us major Nurse Ratched energy. Emma Corin does give us a delicate and daring Diana, and could shock us all by beating Laura Linney and Olivia Coleman.
Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Top Dog: Schitt’s Creek
Overdog: Schitt's Creek
Underdogs: Ted Lasso, The Great, The Flight Attendant, Emily in Paris
Predicted Winner: Schitt’s Creek
Except for Emily in Paris, I could sit and have a hilarious dinner with all of these shows. Schitt’s Creek is showing up the other contenders with its many nominations and I’m here for it. It did take me awhile to warm up to the show, but after Season 2 and a hernia operation that didn't allow for much moving around, I watched it all during my recovery and it was pure medicine.
Ted Lasso is genius with its giggle-inducing wit. Sometimes I wake up and think of Ted Lasso and my day is brighter. The Flight Attendant is like getting a plane to utopia with the funnest flight attendant ever and someone I’d (controversially) like to drink with, Kaley Cuoco.
Best Television Series - Drama
Top Dog: Lovecraft Country
Overdogs: The Crown, Ozark, Ratched
Underdogs: Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian
Predicted Winner: The Crown
Ozark and Lovecraft Country are my Beyonce and Jay Z of this round—the power couple I love. Okay, so The Crown does what it does so frickin' well. I’m British, and I do believe it will win, but I also believe it’s an overdog that may be a tiny bit hyped?
Ratched in all its punky-campy-Ryan-Murphy-fashion is an audience favorite. Not mine, for the record—Pose is the only Ryan Murphy show that's got me hooked.
Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama
Top Dog: Jonathan Majors (because he should have been nominated for Lovecraft Country)
Overdogs: Jason Bateman (Ozark), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Al Pacino (Hunters)
Underdogs: Josh O'Connor (The Crown), Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason)
Predicted Winner: Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Josh O'Connor, a new nom on the Golden Globe scene, had me at ‘Hello’ with his charming Prince Charles smile. Bob Odenkirk has been a rightful regular at the Globes for his ability to make us both obsessed and charmed by the uncharming Saul in Better Call Saul. Al Pacino in Hunters does shine bright like a diamond amongst the bizarre, sometimes great, sometimes awful, Hunters. I’ve always been a huge fan of Matthew Rhys, but his role in Perry Mason came out as average.
Best Actress in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy
Top Dog: Catherine O’Hara (Schitt's Creek)
Overdogs: Lily Collins (Emily In Paris), Catherine O'Hara (Schitt's Creek)
Underdogs: Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant), Elle Fanning (The Great), Jane Levy (Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist)
Predicted Winner: Catherine O’Hara (Schitt's Creek)
When I think of Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose, I think of a unicorn in incredible costumes, making me belly laugh on my way to heaven. She's unstoppable and deserves all the nominations this year. Lily Collins in Emily in Paris is just unforgivably bad. My two underdog faves are Kaley for the The Flight Attendant and Ellie Fanning who manages to balance kooky comedy with realism, a rare quality, in The Great.
Best Actor In A TV Series - Musical or Comedy
Top Dog: Don Cheadle (Black Monday), Ramy Youssef (Ramy)
Overdog: Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek)
Underdogs: Nicholas Hoult (The Great), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
Predicted Winner: Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek)
Don’t make me decide between Eugene and Ramy for my king of this category. It’s actually a talented bunch, with Nicholas Hoult doing a good job, but he's possibly a bit of a filler for this category.
Don Cheadle is scintillatingly self destructive in Black Monday, so he's a front runner as a top dog. However, Ramy wins my top dog award with his magical mix of comedy and drama. He gives us something new, fresh, charming, heartwarming—somehow authentic and epic all at the same time. Jason Sudeikis deserves a nomination for his charismatic mustache and his character's hilarious hapless evolution in Ted Lasso.
Best Limited Series, Anthology or Film Made For TV
Top Dog: Unorthodox (with Normal People close behind)
Overdog: The Undoing
Underdogs: Normal People, The Queen's Gambit, Small Axe, Unorthodox
Predicted Winner: Queen’s Gambit
I just know The Queen’s Gambit will win. It’s a word-of-mouth success and I loved it. But my favorites, Unorthodox and Normal People, made my heart break, beat, and sing at the same time, which is all I ever really want.
The Undoing was addictive, juicy, and kept us all until the bitter end, but I’m not sure it deserves all the love it’s getting. Small Axe shows us what an anthology should do, and brings to life a nostalgic story with great success.
Best Actor In A Limited Series, Anthology or Film Made For TV
Overdogs: Bryan Cranston (Your Honor), Jeff Daniels (The Comey Rule), Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True), Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird), Hugh Grant (The Undoing)
Predicted Winner: Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)
A category of talented overdogs is what we have here. I’m surprised not to see Normal People star Connell Waldron (played by Paul Mescal) up for a nomination, when his equally talented co-star Daisy Edgar is. He would have been a welcome underdog and I would have chosen him over the weaker Hugh Grant any day.
I think Mark Ruffalo will win this category for heartbreaking performance in I Know This Much Is True. There's no denying that Jeff Daniels, Bryan Cranston, and Ethan Hawke are a brilliant trio, but I wasn't moved in quite the same way by their performances.
Best Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology or Film Made For TV
Top Dog: Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People)
Underdogs: Shira Haas (Unorthodox), Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit)
Overdogs: Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Nicole Kidman (The Undoing)
Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)
It’s a close call between Cate Blanchett and Anya Taylor-Joy for the predicted winner, but I think Cate Blanchett's strong retrospective will make the voters biased.
Shira Haas in Unorthodox had my heart in the first ten minutes. Then she broke it and put it back together again in just four episodes. I’m not sure if it was her acting or the story itself (probably both!), but I’m glad to see this nuanced story has been acknowledged.
Daisy Edgar-Jones gives an intimate, profound portrayal in Sally Rooney’s lyrical-yet-colloquial take on the labyrinths of love in Normal People. This one definitely needs more acknowledgement stateside.
Now we wait. And while we do, we want to hear who your top dogs are. Weigh in and tweet us who you'd like to see take home a Golden Globe. The winners of the 78th Golden Globes will be announced on Sunday, February 28th from 8-11pm EST on NBC.