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Could be Angelic year at Golden Globes

Awards often reward shows that take chances
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Amongst all the pointed pomp and circumstance of award-show season, the Golden Globes stand out as the most fun -- and not just because they're more informal (read: "a lot of the celebs seem tipsy, and Liz Taylor might have another meltdown").  The Globes reward the newer, fresher television shows and actors the Emmys often snub, which gives viewers more reason to root on their favorites.

But the Globes are no more immune to missteps and oversights in the television categories than in those for film.  Veterans Al Pacino and Meryl Streep electrified "Angels in America," for example, but so did relative newcomer Justin Kirk, who didn't receive a nomination. 

Neither did James Spader, whose oily Alan Shore is bringing viewers back to "The Practice" this season, or Victor Garber, for his Emmy-nominated work as Jack Bristow on "Alias."  And what exactly do the dads of "Everwood" -- Treat Williams and Tom Amandes -- have to do to earn nominations?  Treat's beard has its own SAG card, for heaven's sake.

Why did William Petersen get a nod for "C.S.I.," but Marg Helgenberger -- acting the hell out of irrelevant subplots, and in spite of drastically low-cut tops -- didn't?  Why is Amber Tamblyn the only representative from "Joan of Arcadia" -- where's Mary Steenburgen, or the surprising Jason Ritter?  The same question applies to "Without A Trace"; the entire cast has helped break "ER"'s stranglehold on the Thursday night timeslot, not just Anthony LaPaglia. 

We didn't see many surprises in the nominations this year (although the inclusion of young fare like "Arrested Development" and "Joan of Arcadia" is encouraging), and we won't see many when the envelopes are opened, either.  If you're looking to handicap your office Globes pool for TV, read on:

Actor in a Leading Role (Drama): Anthony LaPaglia's subtle, elastic portrayal of Jack Malone on "Without A Trace."  Michael Chiklis could repeat for his work on "The Shield," and Martin Sheen does his best with flat writing on "West Wing," but William Petersen's Gil Grissom ("C.S.I.") is too understated, Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer ("24") too hammy.

Actor in a Leading Role (Musical or Comedy): Matt LeBlanc, "Friends."  He's made Joey Tribbiani more and more nuanced and likable in recent seasons, and will probably reap the rewards in the show's last year, but this one might go to Ricky Gervais, often touted as the best thing about "The Office," or last year's winner for "Monk," Tony Shalhoub.  The nominations for Bernie Mac ("The Bernie Mac Show") and Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") come too late to honor either's best work.

Actor in a Leading Role (Mini-series or Television Movie): Al Pacino channeled his customary scenery-chewing into a hyper-intense portrayal of Roy Cohn in "Angels in America," overshadowing even the scrutiny surrounding James Brolin's Ronald Reagan in "The Reagans."  Tom Wilkinson did fine work in "Normal," but he doesn't have a chance against Pacino, and neither does Antonio Banderas ("And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself").  Also nominated: Troy Garity, for the little-seen "Soldier's Girl."

Actress in a Leading Role (Drama): Amber Tamblyn, "Joan of Arcadia."  The best crier in the business, she makes her character's conversations with God believable.  The excellent Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") is good, but tic-y, and if Allison Janney hasn't won for "West Wing" yet, she won't this year.  The dark horse: Jennifer Garner, a formidable crier herself when she's not busy kicking spy butt on "Alias," and third-season plot developments have let her acting shine.  Also nominated: Joely Richardson, "Nip/Tuck."

Actress in a Leading Role (Musical or Comedy): It's a toss-up between Sarah Jessica Parker's last ups on "Sex & the City" and Debra Messing's five straight nominations (and recent Emmy win) for "Will & Grace."  Parker probably takes it, beating out newcomer Alicia Silverstone (the struggling "Miss Match") and buzz-free Reba McEntire ("Reba") and Bonnie Hunt ("Life With Bonnie"); Bitty Schram's role on "Monk" is in the wrong category.

Actress in a Leading Role (Mini-series or Television Movie): Meryl Streep will pick up her fourth Globe, and her first in TV, for playing both Hannah Pitt and Ethel Rosenberg in "Angels in America."  Also nominated: an impressive display of acting firepower, including Judy Davis ("The Reagans"), Jessica Lange ("Normal"), Helen Mirren ("The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone"), and Maggie Smith ("My House in Umbria") -- but it's "Angels"'s year.

Actor in a Supporting Role (Series, Mini-Series, or Television Movie): Ben Shenkman will continue the "Angels in America" sweep for his sympathetic Louis Ironson.  As always, this category is a weird grab bag, and the two other nominees for "Angels," Patrick Wilson and Jeffrey Wright, might split the vote, finally giving Sean Hayes a win for "Will & Grace" after five years.  Lee Pace, nominated for "Soldier's Girl," has no chance.

HBO - SEX AND THE CITY: Kim Cattrall in a 2003 episode. photo: Craig Blankenhorn / HBOHBO

Actress in a Supporting Role (Series, Mini-Series, or Television Movie): Mary-Louise Parker, "Angels in America."  Any of the "Sex & the City" actresses (Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis) could take it, but they could just as easily split it; Cattrall, the only one with an Emmy or a Globe win, is the biggest threat.  Also nominated: Megan Mullaly, inexplicably, for the tiresome Karen on "Will & Grace."

Television Series (Drama): "Six Feet Under."  Not everyone enjoyed the strange, riskily plotted third season, but fellow nominee "The West Wing" has stumbled badly in the last year, and while "C.S.I." pulls top ratings, it's fairly formulaic.  "24" could have competed here based on the groundbreaking first season, but its more recent (and unintentionally hilarious) adventures probably rule it out; "Nip/Tuck" is the category's lightweight.  Look for the funerary drama to repeat its win from two years ago.

Television Series (Musical or Comedy): "Sex & the City," currently taking its farewell lap on HBO -- which probably guarantees it the win.  "Arrested Development" and "The Office" boast critical raves, but short track records (at least in the States), and "Will & Grace"'s track record is a little too long.  "Monk" could sneak off with it, but probably won't.

Mini-Series or Television Movie: Other nominees had compelling stories and acting chops to spare (Maggie Smith in "My House in Umbria," Helen Mirren in "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson in "Normal"), but few saw "Soldier's Girl," and the ambitious "Angels in America" can expect to walk away with this one for its vivid imagining of Tony Kushner's plays.

Sarah D. Bunting is the co-creator and co-editor-in-chief of She lives in Manhattan.