‘Goliath’ reviews: Billy Bob Thornton & David E. Kelley’s ‘lean & mean’ Amazon drama could be awards contender

Goliath” brings Billy Bob Thornton and David E. Kelley back to TV — or rather, it brings them online to Amazon. Will it also put them back into the awards conversation? It premiered its first season on Friday, October 14 to strong reviews, with a 64 on MetaCritic and 71% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Kelley created “Goliath” with Jonathan Shapiro, and it returns the 10-time Emmy-winning writer and producer to the genre he’s most famous for: legal drama. Kelley previously wrote and produced “L.A. Law,” and then he created a string of award-winners including “Picket Fences,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.” This is his first foray into streaming TV, and it could be his awards comeback. His most recent Emmy nomination was in 2008, when “Boston Legal” was last nominated for Best Drama Series.

“Goliath” could get a strong awards start at the Golden Globes, which have been quick to embrace Amazon shows in the comedy categories — “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” won Best TV Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015 — but have yet to recognize the streaming service’s dramatic offerings.

Find out how ‘Goliath’ will do at the Golden Globes this year

That could change thanks to Thornton in the lead role as Billy McBride, a disgraced lawyer looking to make a comeback of his own. Though Thornton is best known for his film work — he won an Oscar for his “Sling Blade” screenplay in 1996 — he recently found success on TV in FX’s anthology series “Fargo,” which earned him a Best Movie/Mini Actor nomination at the Emmys and wins at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards in 2014. He’s one to watch for again at the Globes, which are especially fond of movie stars gracing the small screen.

What do you think of “Goliath”? Check out some of the reviews below, and make sure to join the discussion about this film and more in our forums.

Maureen Ryan (Variety): “‘Goliath’ is essentially a combination of two stalwart TV forms — the law drama and the antihero serial — but Kelley and star Billy Bob Thornton imbue the proceedings with a great deal of texture, specificity, and energy. If you like an enjoyably combative courtroom scene or testy depositions in which prickly, smart people spar, ‘Goliath’ has a number of moments that recall the most bracing episodes of ‘The Good Wife.'”

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Meredith Blake (Los Angeles Times): “But at its best, ‘Goliath’ suggests the creative possibilities that arise when writers steeped in the broadcast television tradition are liberated to tell heavily serialized, character-driven, morally complicated stories without the arbitrary limitations imposed by networks.”

Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix): “‘Goliath’ on the whole is straightforward hard-boiled legal drama, lean and mean and featuring a marvelous central character in Billy McBride. Like his writers, Thornton’s not doing anything fancy in the role, but there’s a welcome looseness to the performance to go along with his naturally abundant charisma.”

Brian Tallerico (RogerEbert.com): “Bolstered by as A-list a cast as anything on TV (with the exception of ‘Westworld’ perhaps) and tighter, less showy writing than we’ve come to expect from Kelley, ‘Goliath’ cruises through boardrooms of billion-dollar law firms and seedy bars populated with lowlifes with equal amounts of confidence. It has echoes of ‘Damages’ in its complex legal machinations and ‘Better Call Saul’ in its troubled protagonist’s fight for the little man.”

Predict the Golden Globe nominations now; change them till December 12

Be sure to make your Golden Globe predictions. How do you think “Goliath” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this series is faring in our Golden Globe odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on December 12 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Globes taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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