When the Golden Globe nominees were announced this morning, one category stood out as representative the seismic shift that’s happening in the entertainment industry: Best Actor, mini-series or TV movie.
Once the realm of supporting actors who would never be able to carry a wide-release film or a Hollywood legends past their prime, the mini-series and TV movie has now prestige territory for leading Hollywood men, including Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Martin Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, and Billy Bob Thornton, who collectively comprise this year’s crop of nominees. That’s a hobbit, The Hulk, Katniss’s mentor, an astronaut saving the planet, and that dude from Pushing Tin, all in a category that used to be dominated by the likes of Beau Bridges.
Over the past five years, the miniseries has become incredibly attractive to serious-minded leading men, with its limited commitment and real opportunity to dig some teeth into a role. Matthew McConaughey won far more praise for his performance as Rust Cohle on True Detective than in Interstellar, while Martin Freeman certainly was more compelling in Fargo than in the tepid Hobbit films. With more and more Hollywood stars signing up for limited runs on the small screen (Kirsten Dunst just signed up for the next season of Fargo while Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams are in for season two of True Detective), don't be surprised if someone like Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks takes the plunge next.
Expect to see more new dramas like Fargo, True Detective and American Horror Story that use the success of previous seasons to attract high-end talent without asking for a multi-year commitment. And prepare for Best Actor or Actress, Miniseries to be the only category people really care about for years to come.
Photos by Lacey Terrell / HBO