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Golden Globes 2016: predictions for who will win in every category

Expect a good night for Spotlight, The Big Short, Matt Damon, and Mr. Robot.

The cast and crew of Transparent celebrate their victory at the 2015 Golden Globe awards.
The cast and crew of Transparent celebrate their victory at the 2015 Golden Globe awards.
Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Amazon Studios
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

The Golden Globes are upon us, ready to name the "best" films and TV series of the year. Of course, in this case, "best" usually means "most famous" or "most likely to win an Oscar" or "most talked about at Hollywood dinner parties."

And, thanks to their loose, breezy feeling and willingness to occasionally go out on a limb for something completely unusual (particularly in the TV categories), the Globes are one of the most fun awards shows to watch.

But that can make the winners enormously hard to predict. Plus, the Globes' role as one of the most important early Oscar harbingers (along with several industry awards, like the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild awards) has often led voters to try too hard to forecast what's to come — setting up a frontrunner that then becomes so overwhelming that a backlash happens and something else wins when the big show arrives, as happened with Boyhood last year.

Below, you'll find my best guess as to who's going to win every award at the Golden Globes. Regardless of whether any of them prevail, the winners will all have to pivot immediately to something much more difficult than winning a Globe — making sure nobody gets tired of them.

Film awards

Best Motion Picture, Drama

It's the cast of Spotlight!
Open Road Films

It seems safe to assume this is a two-film race between Carol and Spotlight. The other three nominees all have support in other categories, but they lack the same level of support that Carol has (with its five nominations total), as well as the likelihood of being a frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar, which Spotlight has. The Globes don't always strive to predict the Oscars, but they tend in that direction. Thus, I'm guessing Spotlight will win.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

The Oscar Best Picture race already seems to have boiled down to Spotlight versus The Big Short. They're the movies that have snagged all of the right nominations in pre-Oscar awards, and they're the movies Hollywood seems to have settled on. Thus, the smart money is on The Big Short winning this award — setting up a battle between it and Spotlight going forward. Watch out for The Martian, though. It's a beloved film that could sneak through for the win.

Best Director

The Globes often love to give this award to something other than a potential Best Picture winner, and it seems likely they'll go with one of the old pros, awarding either Miller or Scott. I'm betting on Scott, but I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest by a (hugely justified) win for Miller. Also possible: Haynes, whose film has the most nominations across all categories.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

DiCaprio is the going-away favorite to win the Oscar (where he's never taken home a prize) — but he's already won two Golden Globes, and when you're dealing with a voting body as small as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, such things do matter. I'd bet on DiCaprio, still, but Fassbender is an up-and-coming star who could use the profile boost.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Brie Larson, right, stars in Room.

Blanchett gives the best performance, but she has so many awards that her Carol nominations feel like gratitude for her consistency in turning out next-level work. Both Mara and Vikander have struggled with questions of whether their performances are supporting or lead. That leaves Ronan and Larson. Ronan's great, but she doesn't have a moment as big as Larson realizing her son is safe in the harrowing Room. Thus, Larson will probably be the narrow winner.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Assuming the Globes choose The Big Short for Best Picture, giving Damon the award here would be a fairly safe way to acknowledge one of the year's biggest hits (as well as his ongoing star power).

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

The Globes have given Lawrence plenty of awards in the past, so they probably won't recognize her for Joy. Smith and Tomlin's movies are likely just too small. That leaves big star McCarthy and rising star Schumer. The Globes love a rising star, so Schumer gets the edge.

Best Supporting Actor in any Motion Picture

Somewhat surprisingly — given the fact that both Best Picture frontrunners are major ensemble movies with lots of great male performances — this race has come down to critical favorite Rylance and sentimental favorite Stallone. Sentiment usually wins at awards shows, so I'd bet on Stallone. (But watch out for Elba, whose performance in Beasts of No Nation is so ferocious he may win despite playing such a monstrous character.)

Best Supporting Actress in Any Motion Picture

This is a tough category to call. Awarding Vikander could give her an Oscar boost for the best performance she gave in 2015 (she had a bunch of them), while Winslet, Fonda, and Mirren are all awards show favorites. But I find it hard to shake the idea that Leigh — who has somehow never won an Oscar in an illustrious career — won't win here.

Best Screenplay

Both Spotlight and The Big Short are very much "screenplay" movies — meaning that their writing is often stronger than their filmmaking (though The Big Short's collage-style editing is often terrific). The Globes have loved Tarantino in the past, and Sorkin is a perpetual favorite. But I'd bet on the guys from Spotlight, which will give that film a narrow lead heading into the Oscar nominations.

Best Original Song in a Motion Picture

  • "Love Me Like You Do," 50 Shades of Grey
  • "One Kind of Love," Love & Mercy
  • "See You Again," Furious 7
  • "Simple Song #3," Youth
  • "Writing’s On The Wall," Spectre

This category is always impossible to call, but when in doubt, look toward the biggest star. That's probably Sam Smith, so his dreary Spectre tune will get the nod.

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture

  • Carter Burwell, Carol
  • Alexandre Desplat, The Danish Girl
  • Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
  • Daniel Pemberton, Steve Jobs
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto

Despite having the most nominations, I have yet to predict that Carol will win anything. It's going to win something, so why not this?

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language

Son of Saul is the one film in this race that has broken out in a big way and, thus, seems a safe bet for an organization that often seems to vote only for things it has read about in the front matter of an issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Best Animated Feature

This would seem to be a two-film race between Anomalisa and Inside Out. And all due respect to Anomalisa, but this category often seems to have an unspoken "Aimed at Children" appended to its title. Also, Anomalisa doesn't have Bing Bong. Inside Out (justifiably) wins.

Television Awards

Best Television Series, Drama

The Globes' TV awards usually favor what's new, almost blindly. That sometimes works to their advantage and sometimes blows up in their face. Technically that describes every show here except Game of Thrones, as they're all first-time nominees, but I'd wager the most realistic options are Mr. Robot and Outlander. I'd give the edge to USA's paranoid hacker drama, which aired more recently and has tons of good buzz.

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy

Shelly and Maura on Transparent
Transparent seems like it may win its second straight Globe in this category.

Part of me wants to predict that Mozart in the Jungle wins, but I think Transparent prevails for the second year in a row. Repeats at the Globes are rare, though, so if anybody else wins, it won't be a surprise.

Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Maybe Wolf Hall can win, as it's got good reviews and a prestigious pedigree and wouldn't be a repeat winner, but Fargo is by far the most beloved show in this category, so it seems likely to win again.

Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy

For the third category in a row, I'm predicting a repeat winner. But this one will actually surprise me if there's an upset. Jeffrey Tambor, hands down.

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Taraji P. Henson has a shot, but Empire's lackluster fall season has probably hurt her, at least a little bit. In that case, Balfe seems most likely to eke out a victory. The Globes seem to really like her show, as evidenced by its multiple nominations.

Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Mr. Robot
Rami Malek plays the paranoid hacker hero at the center of Mr. Robot.

I'm tempted to pick Odenkirk, but his show didn't earn a Best Drama nomination. The same goes for Hamm; plus, he's won here before (though in a year where he didn't get to give a speech, thanks to a writers strike). All told, Malek gave the edgiest performance, and the Globes love a good, edgy performance.

Best Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy

Louis-Dreyfus has somehow never won for Veep (her last Golden Globe was for Seinfeld!), and Rodriguez would be a worthy repeat champion. But Bloom winning would go a long way toward securing longer life for her acclaimed but low-rated series, and I doubt the Globes will be able to resist.

Best Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Elba is a Globe favorite, and Rylance winning could make up for him losing to Stallone in the movie supporting actor race. But something makes me think Oyelowo will take home the prize. (Isaac could also win, but more for being in the new Star Wars movie than for his amazing performance in Show Me a Hero — which is too bad!)

Best Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Lady Gaga on American Horror Story
Lady Gaga stars in this season of American Horror Story.

Huffman and Latifah were great. Dunst is exactly the kind of star the Globes would love to award. But is there any way the Golden Globes can avoid giving an acting prize to Lady Gaga? I strongly suspect not.

Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama, Comedy, Limited Series, or Made-for-TV Movie

What a weirdo category! (The Globes lump together all supporting performances on TV by gender, which always leads to completely impossible-to-predict prizes.) Let's go with Mendelson, who's a rising star with a buzzy role.

Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama, Comedy, Limited Series, or Made-for-TV Movie

Netflix has been pushing hard for Aduba to win, with ads seemingly everywhere, but King should repeat her Emmy triumph for her very strong work in the ABC anthology.

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