The Golden Globes are known for embracing wild cards. The 2012 nominations will be announced Thursday, December 15, and it’s safe to assume that the television nominees will include one or two surprises.

The Globes love what’s hot and new, so I fully expect shows like New Girl, Game of Thrones, Homeland and American Horror Story to pick up a few nominations. There are also returning favorites like Modern Family, Glee, Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad. But what about the wild cards?

In the past, the Golden Globes have nominated Sarah Michelle Gellar for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Piper Perabo for Covert Affairs and Jason Priestley for Beverly Hills, 90210. Who will be this year’s wild card nominee? Here are my top wild card predictions for the six major acting categories.

Lead Actor in a Drama: Gabriel Macht, Suits

Without Jon Hamm, there’s a spot open for a suave man in a suit, and Gabriel Macht deserves it. Piper Perabo’s nomination last year proved USA is on the Globes radar, and Macht delivered a strong performance that was dramatic, funny and complex. A nomination would definitely be a surprise, but a pleasant one.

Lead Actress in a Drama: Stana Katic, Castle

Castle has steadily become a mainstream hit, and Katic had a great year as Detective Beckett continued to investigate her mother’s death and got shot by a sniper. The Golden Globes could definitely make a statement by letting this strong, female lead of a major network hit get a nomination.

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Lead Actor in a Comedy: Will Arnett, Up All Night

I fully expect Christina Applegate to get a nomination (she has three from Samantha Who? and Jesse), but Arnett might be a little less likely. Still, I fully expect the Golden Globes to embrace this new NBC comedy and the idea of having Arnett and wife Amy Poehler both earn nominations might be too good to pass up.

Lead Actress in a Comedy: Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki have earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, but Cuoco has remained off the awards radar so far. However, she does a fantastic job and this could be a chance for the Globes to give her the credit she deserves.

Supporting Actor: Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad or Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

For drama, the reason the show’s fourth season was so good wasn’t Bryan Cranston or Aaron Paul, it was Esposito’s perfectly understated performance as Gus Fring. He was quiet but deadly and Esposito owned every minute he was on screen.

For comedy, Day’s big screen exposure in Horrible Bosses and a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live might elevate his status enough to finally appear on the radar. Plus, anyone who’s seen the show knows his character is the very definition of a wild card.

Supporting Actress: Madeleine Stow, Revenge or Naya Rivera, Glee

For drama, Stowe has done a brilliant job as the manipulating and evil Victoria Grayson, and it might be the kind of exciting comeback story the Golden Globes love.

For comedy, I don’t really expect Rivera to get nominated, but she should. No one on Glee does a better job of playing the comedy, the drama and the musical performances than Rivera, and Santana has blossomed this year into a truly great character. Forget Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer, Rivera deserves the attention.

Who are your wild card picks for this year’s Golden Globe nominations?

(Image courtesy of USA/ABC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.