With nine career nominations, across categories in both film and television, Donald Sutherland is a true mainstay at the Golden Globes.
This year, exactly five decades since his first nomination for 1970’s MASH, Sutherland is back in contention with a bid in Best TV Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing turn as uberwealthy New York financier Franklin Reinhardt on HBO’s The Undoing.
Should Sutherland, who has been nominated five times in this category, score the win, he will make some Golden Globes history, tying Ed Asner’s record of three TV Supporting Actor wins. Asner’s trio of victories all came in the 1970s, including a pair for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (in 1971 and 1975), with the third arriving for Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976. Sutherland’s two wins were in honor of turns in HBO TV movies, Citizen X in 1995 and Path to War in 2002.
What are the odds Sutherland will pull off this feat and tie Asner’s record? Let’s dive into this exceedingly competitive category.
No doubt, many pundits will be predicting Dan Levy to emerge triumphant here for his irresistible turn as David Rose on Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek. After all, he earlier this year scored the Comedy Supporting Actor Emmy, his show in up for all five Comedy Series categories here and, perhaps most key of all, this is the final opportunity to award him for this iconic role. There is one potential hurdle, however – in recent years, Comedy Series actors have not fared very well in TV Supporting Actor at the Globes. The last winner was Chris Colfer (Glee), who triumphed in 2010. Prior to that, Jeremy Piven (Encourage) prevailed in 2007 and Robert Downey, Jr. (Ally McBeal) in 2000. So, these wins do happen, but it remains rather rare.
Among the other nominees is Brendan Gleeson, also stealing his scenes with great vigor as President Donald Trump on Showtime’s The Comey Rule. It’s a plenty juicy turn and, on his fourth nomination without a win, voters may see the veteran actor as due for a win. As is the case with Levy, however, there is a problematic statistic for Gleeson. The Comey Rule is not a contender in Best Miniseries or TV Film and rarely in this category does the winner hail from a program not nominated in either Best Comedy/Drama Series or Miniseries/TV Film. The last winner to pull this off was Jon Voight (Ray Donovan) in 2013 and before him, William Shatner (Boston Legal) in 2004. To find a winner whose TV Movie/Miniseries was not up for the top prize, you need to go all the way back to 1999, when Peter Fonda triumphed for The Passion of Ayn Rand.
Then, there’s Jim Parsons, the lone nominee representing Netflix’s Hollywood. The last winner in this category who was the sole nomination for his program? Dean Stockwell for Quantum Leap in 1989. If anyone is up for a truly steep climb here, it’s likely Parsons.
Ultimately, the only competitor of Sutherland’s who doesn’t really have a daunting statistic in his way is John Boyega, honored for his acclaimed turn as Black Police Association founder Leroy Logan on Amazon Prime’s Small Axe. His program, unlike Gleeson’s and Parsons’, is up for Best Miniseries/TV Film consideration. While perhaps not the category front-runner, Boyega is hardly to be underestimated.
In the end, Sutherland has a lot going for him here. He’s among the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s most recognized actors of the past half-century, honored for a program up for four prizes, including Best Miniseries/TV Film. He also historically wins in this category when up for a limited series, with his two losses coming for a pair of short-lived drama series, Commander in Chief and Dirty Sexy Money.
While perhaps tough to bet against Levy’s last shot at this, Sutherland is likely right up there with him and Boyega too cannot be counted out. This could be among the evening’s closest calls.
Photo: Niko Tavernise/HBO