Eyebrow-raising inclusions, questionable exclusions and new scandals continue to plague one of Hollywood’s oldest organizations at the kickoff of awards season
No doubt this is the strangest awards season in recent memory, not for the films in contention but because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has so upended every aspect of it.
The Golden Globes have more than a virus to deal with this year, they have a cancer, and just when it seemed like it was in remission it came roaring back and metastasized. The 78 years of the Hollywood Foreign Press, who puts on the Golden Globes show, has been so mired in controversies that it never seems to be able to rise above them. We know they’ve more than open to taking bribes for votes, whether it’s gold watches or trips to Paris, to ensure sometimes questionable nominations and wins. This year’s cause celebre in that department was the revelation by the LA Times that indeed, a handful of the less than 90 members of the exclusive club that is the HFPA were flown to Paris in support of the Netflix series Emily in Paris (there’s also a significant element of the story about individual compensation that is actually quite eye-opening). While some were surprised by the two nominations the show got (Comedy/Musical Series and Comedy/Musical Actress) anyone that follows awards and the Globes year to year knew this was always going to happen, regardless of a Paris excursion. It’s a supremely Globes-y show, was massively popular and no group loves rewarding new talent than the HFPA.
The two real controversial issues with this year’s film nominations came in two parts: one being the film and actress nominations for Music, the feature directorial debut by singer Sia. While there was word that the group loved the film, there was intense controversy and scrutiny around the musical – it’s been called ableist at best and dangerous at worst – regarding how it presents autism, the partnering with Autism Speaks, Sia’s fiery Twitter diatribe against detractors of the film and the casting of Maddie Ziegler in the titular role of a young girl on the autism spectrum (for which she later apologized for). The HFPA, as it often does, swept aside those controversies to nominate it anyway. The Globes have always had stains like this, it’s not really anything new. Pia Zadora’s 1982 win for New Star of the Year, those nominations for 2010’s The Tourist, etc. But for an organization nearing its octogenarian anniversary, you’d think it would learn its lesson by now.
The bigger issue this year was that, while they made a huge strides in recognizing women filmmakers by nominated three women in Best Director for the first time in their history, it was also a banner year for Black films like Da 5 Bloods, Judas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami and more. They all earned nominations, from acting to directing to song, yet none of them found a spot in the top category of Motion Picture (Drama). There were no Black-led films in the Comedy/Musical category either. Or Foreign Language Film. Other than Soul in Animated Film, it was a total Black-out. The irony here is that so many of those nominations that Black-led films did get are frontrunners in their respective categories. That puts the Globes in an unenviable position, but one they got themselves in; if we get winners like Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Viola Davis and/or Leslie Odom, Jr. the HFPA is saying we like you enough to invite you but not enough to give you the big prize. It’s a catch-22 for them but one of their own making.
People magazine this week exclusively revealed that for the first time ever, the Globes, in association with Feeding America, will be inviting a limited number of frontline and essential workers to attend the show in both locations.
Announced presenters so far: Anthony Anderson, Awkwafina, Kevin Bacon, Sterling K. Brown, Michael Douglas, Cynthia Erivo, Tiffany Haddish, Kate Hudson, Annie Mumolo, Joaquin Phoenix, Margot Robbie, Kyra Sedgwick, Kenan Thompson, Susan Kelechi Watson, Kristen Wiig, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger.
All audience members will be tested for COVID-19 in advance and undergo health screenings and temperature checks before entering either venue. Inside, social distancing guidelines will be in place and only guests from the same household will be seated together.
The 78th annual Golden Globe Awards will air live on February 28 starting at 5pm PT/8pm ET on NBC with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning as hosts.
Here are my predictions with some commentary and potential spoilers in each race.
Best Motion Picture (Drama)
This could go two ways; The Trial of the Chicago 7 or Nomadland. I don’t really have much faith in something else leapfrogging over these two frontrunners or reason to. Where it gets tough is predicting a potential Picture/Director split. While I think Zhao is the clear favorite to win director but is the film a Globes pick over the ‘whole world is watching’ rousing nature of Chicago 7?
When you start to parse out what each of these films can win outside of this category, screenplay is probably going to Aaron Sorkin. He wins here even he’s not Oscar-nominated for his scripts. Chicago 7 might also nab an acting win. Nomadland might get an acting win. The Globe to Oscar trajectory hasn’t been that good as of late with films like Boyhood (2014), The Revenant (2015) and La La Land (2016) winning here only to get stopped at the Academy Awards. What about films that only won Picture and Director here? That’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), Avatar (2009) and 1917 just last year. Those films are pretty far outside the scope of anything nominated this year. Then you have 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Moonlight (2016), which only won the Globes’ Motion Picture prize, lost everything else, and still managed to triumph at the Oscars.
So the issue becomes, is there a true precedent for a film like Nomadland to win or is it the precedent?
Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Other nominees: The Father, Mank, Promising Young Woman
Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
It’s going to be a bit of a battle, I think, between Borat and Hamilton for this and the lead actor win. Will the Globes split and share the wealth? Here’s the thing; every Comedy/Musical Globe winner has been nominated for at least one Oscar except for The Hangover (2009). Hamilton isn’t Oscar-eligible so a win here would be an asterisk/exception to that stat. Borat is a potential Oscar contender so maybe voters will lean that way and go for Lin-Manuel Miranda for Comedy/Musical Actor over Sacha Baron Cohen. A full sweep for Borat seems like a stretch.
Prediction: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Other nominees: Music, Palm Springs, The Prom
Since 2000, only four films have won just director at the Globes: Robert Altman, Gosford Park (2001), Martin Scorsese, The Departed (2006) and Hugo (2011) and Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity (2013). Of those, Scorsese (The Departed) and Cuarón went on to win the Oscar as well. In Scorsese’s case it also came with a Best Picture win, not the case for Cuarón. Zhao is in a unique position as a frontrunner unlike any we’ve ever seen before. Not just because of her gender and heritage, but no director has ever dominated the critics’ race as she has. She’s a threat on every level and far, far out ahead of the pack.
Prediction: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Spoiler: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Other nominees: David Fincher (Mank), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama)
The Father may have overperformed here, earning Picture and Screenplay nominations, but I think Anthony Hopkins, despite a career-best performance, will miss out on his eighth attempt to win a Golden Globe, and in doing so break his tie with Susan Sarandon as the most-nominated living performer to not yet win. Paul Newman holds the all-time record with nine nominations and no wins. The win will go to Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, his final film role, and begin his path to a posthumous Oscar win in April.
Prediction: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Spoiler: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Other nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Gary Oldman (Mank), Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
In keeping with the theory that we’ll see some splits, I’m going with Sacha Baron Cohen here over Lin-Manuel Miranda but it could easily be flipped. Or Hamilton could take both. Or SBC steamrolls. How’s that for decisiveness? Ok, I’m going to bet that they’ll go for SBC in the serious, Oscar-y role in supporting over his turn here and LMM wins the Globe with his movie.
Prediction: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Spoiler: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Other nominees: James Corden (The Prom), Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield), Andy Samberg (Palm Springs)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama)
The momentum and good will that Carey Mulligan has gathered since the late December release of Promising Young Woman and the ensuing melee over that Variety review should propel her to win here. With her film also earning nominations for Motion Picture (Drama), Screenplay and Director, she’s got everything behind her. Even with all of that it doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy ride as Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) will give her chase.
Prediction: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Spoiler: Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Other nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States vs Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
The move of Maria Bakalova into lead here all but secured her win. She likely would have struggled in a supporting category that combines drama and comedy/musical but here she should triumph over double nominee Anya Taylor-Joy and Globe favorites Michelle Pfeiffer and Rosamund Pike.
Prediction: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Spoiler: Anya Taylor Joy, Emma.
Other nominees: Kate Hudson (Music), Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Rosamund Pike (I Care A Lot)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Absolutely one of the toughest categories with three potential outcomes…and maybe four. If The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the likely Motion Picture (Drama) winner and Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t win for Borat, he makes sense as a winner here. But Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) has been the buzzed performance since his film premiered at Sundance 2021 (and long before by critics who had seen it) and could benefit from great timing and the HFPA wanting to write the wrongs I mentioned above. Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami) is also a possibility, but probably a better shot in original song. Then there’s Jared Leto in The Little Things. His surprise nomination here was only cemented by one from SAG the very next day, making him a real threat. If he wasn’t already a previous winner I’d write him off as an Aaron Taylor-Johnson contender, who famously beat eventual Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), and ended up being Oscar-snubbed for his Nocturnal Animals co-star Michael Shannon. It would be such a Globes move to give him this win though.
Prediction: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Spoiler: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Other nominees: Jared Leto (The Little Things), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
For Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Amanda Seyfried (Mank), with their two biggest competitors out of this race (Borat‘s Maria Bakalova is in lead, Minari‘s Youn Yuh-jung isn’t even nominated) this is where one of these two will lay the groundwork for a potential run. Despite barely being a blip during critics’ season, both Close and Seyfried have remained the two frontrunners in this category, even as Seyfried stumbled at SAG. I want to give Seyfried the edge here being in the stronger film. But am I too myopic in that thinking and is there room for Olivia Colman or Jodie Foster to surprise?
Prediction: Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Spoiler: Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Other nominees: Olivia Colman (The Father), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Helena Zengel (News of the World)
The HFPA gave Sorkin a win for Steve Jobs. He’ll win again here.
Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Spoiler: Promising Young Woman
Other nominees: The Father, Mank, Nomadland
Best Animated Feature Film
Other nominees: The Croods: A New Age, Onward, Over the Moon
Best Foreign Language Film
In Foreign Language Film, we don’t have a Parasite-level frontrunner so the door is open for the Globes to do a couple of things. They could go with Another Round, which is the critics’ leader, and no one will really bat an eye. But I think the backlash received over Minari being relegated to this category for a Motion Picture nomination, plus the snubs it received elsewhere from the group, will probably push them to vote for it here. The Hollywood Foreign Press aren’t usually ones to bend no matter how much they’re shamed but I think this year they might.
Prediction: Minari (USA)
Spoiler: Another Round (Denmark)
Other nominees: La Llorona (Guatemala), The Life Ahead (Spain), Two of Us (France)
Best Original Score
As the surprising critics’ leader this season, Soul should be able to take this, positioning Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to another Oscar win, this time with jazz pianist Jon Batiste.
Other nominees: The Midnight Sky, News of the World, Tenet
Best Original Song
This is the best place to reward One Night in Miami but the Globes do love Diane Warren, she even won for her song from Burlesque.
Prediction: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami
Spoiler: “Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead
Other nominees: “Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah, “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7, “Tigress & Tweed” from The United States vs Billie Holiday