It’s no secret that awards ceremonies are keen on rewarding series and actors that have bowed out, whether by finale or death. It isn’t always fair, but then years of blatant snubbing aren’t so justifiable either. This week saw the surprisingly subdued swan song for Sons of Anarchy’s seventh and final season, and while I wouldn’t have bet my mortgage on the biker drama sweeping the nominations, I expected the Golden Globes to grant an iota of recognition to a departing series that has largely been ignored during awards seasons past.
I’d love to think that I live in a world where other people hold Sons of Anarchy on the same plateau as Game of Thrones and House of Cards in the Best Drama category, but I willingly concede that even Breaking Bad’s absence didn’t necessarily shoehorn Kurt Sutter’s violent saga into a slot. But the cast was just as good as it’s ever been, if not more so, given all the harshness this season incorporated into the narrative. So without further ado, here are the three Golden Globe nominations that Sons of Anarchy should have received.
Best Actress in a Drama – Katey SagalKatey Sagal, who played the mother with a heart of lovingly murderous stone Gemma Teller Morrow, is the only Sons of Anarchy alum to ever walk away with a big award, having won the dramatic actress Golden Globe in 2011. (The series’ only Globe nomination in all seven years.) And though Gemma’s character took a big shift this year from badass matriarch to someone in constant fear that her son will murder her, it sometimes worked out in Sagal’s favor, particularly towards the end of the season when her candle was flaming up at both ends. There are ways that Kurt Sutter could have possibly beefed Gemma’s role in this season up, but Sagal couldn’t have played it any more excellently. If anyone can make “talking to thin air as mental penance” seem reasonable, it’s her.
Best Performance: “Suits of Woe,” which is easily the best episode of the season. Gemma’s emotions take a detour through the Kübler-Ross model, trotting past denial, anger and bargaining altogether for a healthy dose of worried depression and acceptance. The scene where Nero finds out she killed Tara was priceless, and Sagal barely had to say a word for it. It’s all in the face.
Best Actor in a Drama – Charlie HunnamThis season, Charlie Hunnam got to play Jax Teller at his most viciously unhinged. In true theme song fashion, he was a man ridin’ through the world all alone, following the brutal murder of wife Tara. His mother distanced herself properly, being the murderer and all, and he distanced himself from his club through constant lying and manipulation. Gone was the worry about his sons’ futures, replaced by a vile need for vengeance. But it was when he discovered that a mountainous lie had informed his recent misdoings that Jax gave Hunnam a chance to shine as an actor. I’ve had my problems with Hunnam’s performances on occasion, but the fact that his work has been all but ignored critically is almost as big of a crime as anything in SAMCRO’s collective police file.
Best Performance: “Suits of Woe,” because once again, that episode wasn’t just a season high but also a series highlight in terms of the casts’ collective energy. No, Hunnam and Theo “Juice” Rossi's largely unnecessary land deal and prison rape plotlines didn't equal high drama, but that scene where Juice relays the night of Tara’s murder employed both actors’ full dramatic toolkit and showed off their best work.
Best Supporting Actor – Jimmy SmitsWhen Jimmy Smits first joined Sons of Anarchy, I expected Nero to be more of a firecracker of a character, burning up and booming before being left behind. But he quickly became an integral part of the ensemble, in a role that would have fallen flat in many other actors’ hands. But “reformed-O.G. lothario” fits Smits like a glove, and he has often been a major source of humanity in the series’ more exposition-heavy gangland dialogues. I’ve said this for a while now, but Smits gives the best reactions on TV, no matter what the information he’s receiving is, or what manner of delivery he’s acting off of. A structure is only as strong as its supports, and Nero is the Atlas of side characters, and I’m certain Smits would already be nominated if the Golden Globes’ supporting categories weren’t limited-scope clusterfucks.
Best Performance: Stop me if you’ve heard this one. “Suits of Woe.” Nero’s push to get out of the gang world was more slight that I would have liked, but his crumbling relationship with Gemma was more effective than damned near any other break-up on TV in 2014. And it all culminated in a phone call where they didn’t even talk to one another.