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What You Need To Know About The Golden Globes Nominees You've Never Heard Of

No, Mozart doesn't really go to the jungle.

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1. 99 Homes

Broad Green Pictures

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for Michael Shannon

If The Big Short takes a macro look at the Wall Street shenanigans that led to the housing crisis of the 2000s, then 99 Homes is a street-level portrait of the people who suffered the most when losing their homes — and the predators who took full advantage of that misfortune.

Falling in the latter category is Shannon's Rick Carver, a real estate middleman who doesn't blink when he forecloses on homes and forces their inhabitants into the street. One of those poor souls, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), winds up in Rick's employ, and Shannon works his flinty magic as Dennis falls under his opportunistic thrall. Shannon won the lion's share of praise for the film when it opened in October, and along with his Screen Actors Guild Award nomination on Wednesday, it's fair to say that he is now firmly among the main contenders for this category. —Adam B. Vary

2. Grandma

Sony Pictures Classics

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin has been one of the most famous lesbians in show business for decades — she officially came out roughly 15 years ago, but her sexuality was one of Hollywood's worst-kept secrets since her career took off in the 1970s. But until Grandma, Tomlin had never played a gay character on screen before.

Grieving still from the loss of her partner of 38 years, Tomlin's character, Elle, has to contend first with breaking up with her younger girlfriend (Judy Greer), and then with her young granddaughter (Julia Garner), who shows up at her doorstep needing help to get an abortion. The movie becomes a kind of road comedy as the pair travel in Elle's 1955 Dodge Royal (actually owned by Tomlin), hitting up people from Elle's past for money for the procedure. Throughout, Tomlin is exactly the kind of fiery presence you would expect her to be, and the role feels like a kind of culmination for her career — a career that has enjoyed a resurgence of late thanks to the Netflix series Grace & Frankie, for which Tomlin was also nominated. —A.B.V.

3. Infinitely Polar Bear

Claire Folger, Sony Pictures Classics

Nominated for: Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Mark Ruffalo

The male lead performance field is unusually weak this year, which is especially evident when it comes to the Golden Globes, which splits its lead actor nominations into drama and musical/comedy. That's why Ruffalo, who got shut out of the more competitive supporting actor category for the better and better known Spotlight, has gotten a nod for lead actor for a movie that almost no one saw.

Infinitely Polar Bear is written and directed by Maya Forbes, and is based on a time in her childhood when she and her sister were being cared for by their father, who has bipolar disorder. Imogene Wolodarsky, Forbes' daughter, plays a fictionalized version of Forbes, while Ruffalo plays her dad, Cameron. Ruffalo's never not a pleasure to watch, and he's a joy in the role, endearing but terrifying as a person responsible for two children. If the movie seems to echo in its bouncy tone too much of the manic phase its parental figure seems to be in, it's also an affectionately edgy portrait of a family. —Alison Willmore

4. Love & Mercy

Roadside Attractions

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for Paul Dano and Best Original Song for "One Kind of Love" by Brian Wilson and Scott Bennett

This unusual biopic of Brian Wilson, the musical genius who made the Beach Boys the major pop music rival to the Beatles, first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, so it has been a long road indeed for the film to get to this year's awards season.

Love & Mercy splits Wilson's life between his heyday with the Beach Boys in the 1960s, with Dano playing Wilson, and his life as a recluse in the 1980s, with John Cusack playing Wilson as an older man. It opened last June to strong reviews, and decent box office returns for an indie (especially this year), but most movies that open in the first half of the year fade from the awards season.

Except, apparently, for Dano, who shines especially in the sequences in which we watch Wilson craft and record his seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds. Dano is such a strong presence, actually, that there was some question about whether he belonged in the supporting category, but the Hollywood Foreign Press did not, in this case at least, seem to mind.

The nominated song, written in part by Wilson, was originally written for the film, but because of Love & Mercy's delayed release, it first appeared on Wilson's album No Pier Pressure. You can listen to it here. —A.B.V.

5. Trumbo

Bleecker Street Media

Nominated for: Best Actor in a Drama for Bryan Cranston and Best Supporting Actress for Helen Mirren

Trumbo is a biopic about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted for refusing to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee about Communists in Hollywood. So it's a true story, and a film about filmmaking, and it happens to have a great cast, including Cranston (who won a Golden Globe last year for Breaking Bad) as Trumbo, as well as Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, and Louis C.K.

That's been enough to nab Trumbo three SAG Award nominations and two Golden Globe ones, even though no one seems all that excited about the movie itself. It's running a positive but not overenthusiastic 71% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has made back only $4.4 million of its $15 million budget at the box office since it opened on Nov. 6. It was never going to be a big movie, but it seems almost laser-focused in its efforts to cater to awards. —A.W.

6. Youth

Gianni Fiorito / Fox Searchlight

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for Jane Fonda and Best Original Song for David Lang's "Simple Song #3"

Youth falls into an awkward in-between spot — too artsy for the mainstream, too sentimental to really go over well at places like Cannes, where it premiered. It's directed by Italy's Paolo Sorrentino, and it feels very Italian, but it's in English, and stars Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Paul Dano, so it's not eligible for the foreign language film categories.

But it's also a grandiose movie about a retired composer who, with his daughter (Weisz) and his filmmaker best friend (Keitel), has been vacationing in the Alps and looking back on his life. And its attention to venerable actors and themes of aging seem to have resonated with awards committees, who tend to be on the gray side — enough to have earned Fonda a nod for her small part as Keitel's regular leading lady, a delightfully over-the-top Hollywood grotesque in a magnificently bad wig.

The original song nomination for David Lang is an unexpected and thoughtful touch — the piece of music is the one that Caine's character wrote for his wife to sing, and is one he's reluctant to conduct now that she can no longer perform it. —A.W.


7. Blunt Talk


Nominated for: Best Actor in a TV Comedy or Musical for Patrick Stewart

Yes, Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard) has been back on TV since August and you probably didn't even know it.

On this series from Bored to Death's Jonathan Ames, Stewart plays a British newscaster named Walter Blunt who moves to Los Angeles with the goal of conquering nightly cable news stateside. But his off-camera antics (i.e., going on benders and picking up transgender prostitutes) get in the way of his potential success. Basically, it's The Newsroom without taking itself nearly as seriously and it comes with the added benefit of plenty of hijinks ensuing. Plus, Patrick Stewart!

Blunt Talk's first season wrapped in October and its second will debut some time next year. —Jaimie Etkin

8. Casual

Hulu Plus

Nominated for: Best TV Comedy or Musical

One of Hulu's first successful forays into original programming centers on siblings Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and Alex (Tommy Dewey), who find themselves living together as adults. Psychologist Valerie divorces her husband in the wake of their teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) walking in on him with a younger woman, so she and her daughter move into Alex’s lovely Los Angeles home. He tries to help them get back on their feet, particularly Valerie, whom he sets up with an account on the dating site he co-founded called Snooger (basically OkCupid).

It's a real treat to see Watkins back on TV again after Trophy Wife's untimely death and with great performances from Barr, Frances Conroy (as Valerie and Alex's hippie, detached mother), and Happy Ending’s Eliza Coupe (as the woman Alex has been waiting for who also happens to date other people), it’s nice to see another series where the women shine. All 10 episodes are currently streaming on Hulu Plus, and a second 13-episode season will launch next year. —J.E.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The CW

Nominated for: Best Actress in a TV Comedy or Musical for Rachel Bloom

The title for this CW series makes it sound like a broad, crass sitcom, when it is the exact opposite of that. Yes, it is about a woman, Rebecca Bunch (Bloom), who abandons her miserable life as a New York City lawyer and follows her summer camp boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) to his small California hometown, on not much more than a whim. So, yes, she is crazy, and technically Josh's ex. But Bloom transforms Rebecca into one of the most appealing, fully realized women on TV this year — a brilliant and winning woman who makes disastrous personal choices. And, oh right, the show is a musical, with original songs every week, and Bloom co-created the show, and writes on it, too. Give her all the Globes! —A.B.V.

10. Flesh & Bone


Nominated for: Best Limited Series or TV Movie and Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Sarah Hay

Breaking Bad writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett traded the ugly underbelly of meth dealing for that of the sometimes equally ugly underbelly of the ballet world in this eight-episode Starz series.

Veering more on the Black Swan end of things than the Center Stage side, Flesh & Bone centers on the prestigious American Ballet Company, where its founder and artistic director is determined to up the company’s rank. And in his attempt to do so, he’s putting all his stock in young ballet dancer Claire Robbins (Sarah Hay).

Fun fact: Hay, who’s up for a Globe this year, began studying at the School of American Ballet at 8 and appeared in Black Swan. Funner fact: Sascha Radetsky, who played young Charlie in Center Stage, plays a principal dancer in Flesh & Bone — basically, he’s now the Cooper Nielson. —J.E.

11. Mozart in the Jungle

Amazon Studios

Nominated for: Best TV Comedy or Musical and Best Actor in a TV Comedy or Musical for Gael García Bernal

This Amazon Studios series has little to do with Mozart and even less to do with a jungle. Based on oboist Blair Tindall’s memoir of the same name — Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music — the show stars Gael García Bernal as an eccentric orchestra conductor from Mexico who sports a couple dreadlocks, which sprout from the back of his head.

The New York–set (hence, the jungle) series also stars Lola Kirke (younger sister of Girls’ Jemima who appeared in the acclaimed Mistress America earlier this year), Broadway legend Bernadette Peters, and comedic actor Jason Schwartzman, who developed Mozart in the Jungle along with Roman Coppola and Alex Timbers.

The second season debuts on Dec. 30, so you have a few weeks to catch up on its first 10 episodes (only a half hour each) with an Amazon Prime account now. —J.E.

12. Narcos

Daniel Daza / Netflix

Nominated for: Best TV Drama and Best Actor in a TV Drama for Wagner Moura

Of all the original dramas that premiered or returned on Netflix this year, from House of Cards to Bloodline to Jessica Jones, crime saga Narcos isn't the obvious choice to represent the ambitious streaming service. Not that Narcos, about Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel and the Drug Enforcement Administration's attempts to take them down, is a bad show. It's just lower profile, a sprawling series without any big names that feels like it's still working out its rhythms.

It also, maddeningly, funnels its story through the narration of bland American agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), when it has two far more fascinating performances that feel more prominent: There's Pedro Pascal, late of Game of Thrones, as Javier Peña, Murphy's fellow DEA agent and an unrepentant ladies' man; and then there's Brazilian actor Moura as Escobar, a man who's shown to be magnetic, complicated, and frightening. Escobar is the show's antihero, the man we end up rooting for despite his complicated sort of monstrousness — he's a patriot as well as a ruthless crime kingpin. And Moura certainly deserves the recognition for his work. —A.W.

13. Show Me a Hero


Nominated for: Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Oscar Isaac

Based on Lisa Belkin's 1999 nonfiction book of the same name, the series centers on the reaction in a white middle-class neighborhood in Yonkers, New York, when a federally mandated desegregated public housing development is announced. The six-episode HBO miniseries was written by The Wire’s David Simon, who's portrayed urban racial tensions on television better than anyone in recent years.

And the cast is incredible: Alfred Molina, Winona Ryder, Bob Balaban, Jim Belushi, Catherine Keener, and Oscar Isaac, its lead, who earned a Golden Globe nod for his performance as former New York City police office Nick Wasicsko. The series tracks his rise from becoming a Yonkers City Council member to, eventually, the mayor of Yonkers in the late ‘80s. His mustache should’ve also earned a nomination, TBH. —J.E.

14. Wolf Hall


Nominated for: Best Limited Series or TV Movie, Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Mark Rylance, and Best Supporting Actor for Damian Lewis

This British miniseries is an adaptation of the first two novels in Hilary Mantel's trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (the third, The Mirror and the Light, is currently in the works).

The six-installment series, set in the early 16th century, is a fictionalized take on Thomas Cromwell’s (Mark Rylance) rapid rise to power in the court of Henry VIII of England (Damian Lewis). It aired in the U.K. in January and February before hitting the U.S. in April and May and though critics quickly fell for it (giving it a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences did not. Unfortunately, it lacks the raunch of cable period drams before it, like The Tudors in which the world first met Natalie Dormer.

Welp, at least it's earned eight Emmy nominations, four Critics’ Choice Television Awards, and now, three Golden Globes. —J.E.

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