Billy Bob Thornton (‘Goliath’): Why we shouldn’t underestimate him at the Golden Globes

Things are looking good for recent Emmy winner Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) to win Best TV Drama Actor at the Golden Globes according to our latest racetrack odds. But could Billy Bob Thornton (“Goliath”) possibly upset?

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The Golden Globes love to award new shows and their stars. But the Hollywood Foreign Press proved they could be sentimental about old favorites too. Last year Malek was upset by Jon Hamm for his farewell season of “Mad Men,” giving him the chance to deliver the acceptance speech he missed out on when he won for the first time in 2008; the Globes telecast was cancelled that year due to the writers strike. But then Malek won the Emmy this past September, and the Globes don’t like to appear as though they’re behind the curve, so they may want to make it up to Malek now.

But in a category full of TV stars Thornton is the movie star, which is its own advantage at the Globes. Thornton is a three-time Oscar nominee and a winner for Best Original Screenplay (“Sling Blade,” 1996). We’ve seen other such movie stars prevail for their TV appearances in recent years. Oscar winner Jon Voight won the catch-all TV Supporting Actor award for “Ray Donovan” (2013). And before that Don Cheadle, a past Oscar nominee, claimed Best TV Comedy/Musical Actor for “House of Lies” (2012).

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The two stars of “House of Cards” also parlayed their movie stardom into Globe wins for TV. Robin Wright won Best TV Drama Actress in 2013, and then her on-screen husband, two-time Oscar champ Kevin Spacey, won Best TV Drama Actor in 2014 — the same category Malek and Thornton are competing for now.

So if there is one thing the Globes love more than new shows it’s movie stars, and this year there’s only one choice in this race — Thornton.

Also helping Thornton is that, unlike his competition, we already know the Hollywood Foreign Press likes him. Take into consideration the 2014 race for Best TV Movie/Limited Series Actor, which was one of the most competitive in history. Thornton won for “Fargo” against “True Detective’s” Matthew McConaughey, at the time the reigning Best Actor Oscar winner (“Dallas Buyers Club”), and McConaughey’s co-star Woody Harrelson; “The Normal Heart” star Mark Ruffalo, who was also nominated that year for Best Film Supporting Actor (“Foxcatcher”); and Thornton’s own Emmy winning co-star Martin Freeman (“Fargo”).

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Thornton is also a four-time past Globe nominee on the film side: Best Supporting Actor (“A Simple Plan,” 1998), Best Comedy/Musical Actor (“Bandits” in 2001, “Bad Santa” in 2003) and Best Drama Actor (“The Man Who Wasn’t There,” 2002).

On top of that, Thornton’s show streams on Amazon, which has been on a roll at the Golden Globes of late, winning Best TV Comedy/Musical Series and Best TV Comedy/Musical Actor the past two years consecutively: for “Transparent” and its star Jeffrey Tambor in 2014, and then “Mozart in the Jungle” and its star Gael Garcia Bernal in 2015. Both Tambor and Bernal contend again this year, but are not expected to win, so if the Golden Globes don’t want Amazon to go home empty-handed that could further tip the scales in Thornton’s favor.

Joining Thornton and Malek in that category are Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), a first-time nominee who contended for his first Emmy earlier this year; Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), a two-time Emmy and Golden Globe nominee; and Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”), a three-time Emmy nominee and now a five-time Golden Globe nominee. As of this writing Malek is expected to add the Globe to his trophy case with odds of 4/9. Thornton currently sits within striking distances with odds of 5/1. But maybe we have that backwards — perhaps Thornton really has the advantage.

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