This year’s Golden Globe Awards are finally in the books, and after tonight, we get to pretend for the next 10 months that they don’t exist, until we repeat the cycle all over again with next year’s set of bribes. After three hours of technical difficulties and over a month of controversy for the latest round of payoffs to recognize crap (Music and Emily in Paris? Really?), the annual farce of influence peddling by journalists who want to think they’re friends with celebrities is done for another year, clearing the path for the ceremonies that actually matter during Awards Season because they’re handed out by the people doing the actual work and who know what the fuck they’re talking about. They may not always pick the actual best option, but I’d take Michael Bay’s judgment after a head injury before I trust the credibility of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
So whose checks failed to bounce this year? Let’s take a look at the results. Again, we’re only concerned with the film half of the equation, not that the TV side is much better.
Best Motion Picture – Drama – Nomadland
Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Best Actor – Drama – Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (posthumous)
Best Actress – Drama – Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Best Actor – Musical/Comedy – Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Best Actress – Musical/Comedy – Rosamund Pike in I Care a Lot
Best Supporting Actor – Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah
Best Supporting Actress – Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian
Best Director – Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Best Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7
Best Original Score – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste – Soul
Best Original Song – Niccolò Agliardi, Laura Pausini, and Diane Warren for “Io sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead
Best Animated Film – Soul
Best Foreign Language Film – Minari (USA)
So, now the question that’s on everyone’s mind, does any of this mean anything? Is there anything we can possibly glean from these winners? Hard to say. There are some victories here that seem all but assured come Oscar Night, but others that leave some questions, and some that are just absurd.
First, the obvious ones. I’ve felt for a while now that Original Screenplay was Aaron Sorkin’s to lose, and this certainly bolsters that theory. There is some crossover between the HFPA and the Writers Guild, so it’s very possible that he’s gotten multiple votes already. Also, just in general, the Academy members who don’t watch all the submissions and nominees will occasionally take a cue from the Globes. Adapted Screenplay is still wide open because the HFPA only does one catch-all screenplay award, but Original is probably a done deal at this point. Similarly, I think Chadwick Boseman is a mortal lock for a posthumous Best Actor Oscar, and Soul very much has the inside track on Animated Feature and Original Score.
Some others raise an eyebrow or three (what, you don’t have three?) for the upcoming Oscar nominations in two weeks. Sacha Baron Cohen gets Best Actor for Comedy here but loses Supporting Actor to Daniel Kaluuya. The Borat sequel overall was the only serious nominee for the comedy half of Best Picture, so maybe its win will elevate it enough to get a Best Picture nod from the Academy, especially since they’re doing a hard 10 nominees going forward, but Cohen’s results tonight are nebulous. He’ll likely get a Supporting Actor nomination at the Oscars, and I’d argue he deserves to win, but there’s almost no chance at Best Actor, so maybe that win is a presumptive consolation for an impending loss on Oscar Night.
Nomadland won for Best Drama and Best Director, but I’m not sure if that portends anything to come. It’ll probably sweep the Independent Spirit Awards, but beyond that, I can’t say. Zhao got her win, but the HFPA made this whole big show about nominating three women for Best Director, and thus obligated themselves to give the win to one of them. It’d be an even bigger PR blowback than the Emily in Paris bribe if they didn’t, so we can’t read too much into that for now. Best to wait until the Directors Guild has their say.
As for Original Song, whoopdee frig, Diane Warren finally gets a win. She’s only been nominated twice by the HFPA, but she’s lost 11 times with the Academy. That said, maybe this is her year. There’s not too much recognizable on the Academy’s shortlist, mostly because I think they were hedging their bets on Billie Eilish’s terrible Bond theme, but that’ll have to wait until next year. There are good songs on the list, certainly, and while I haven’t heard “Io sì (Seen)” or seen The Life Ahead yet, this may be the year when the Academy just says, “Fuck it, let her have this one.” It’s also worth noting that over the last 10 years, the Globe winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar seven times. The exceptions are 2011 (the HFPA gave it to some random shit by Madonna while the Academy gave it to the Muppets in a two-nominee category), 2013 (U2’s “Ordinary Love” inexplicably over “Let it Go”), and 2017 (“This is Me” over “Remember Me”). I’d say Warren’s chances of shedding the Susan Lucci label are fairly high.
Now we get to the mockery wins. First in this batch, there’s Minari. It wins for Foreign Language despite being an American film and taking place in Arkansas. This is a minor controversy because a) it feels like a cheap way to give the film a token award without seriously considering it anywhere else (they did the same thing to Parasite last year, and look how that turned out), and b) the HFPA thumbs their nose at the Academy because they don’t allow American films in the category or more than one per nation, even though the HFPA uses that as an excuse to just nominate every French and Italian film that solicits them. If anything, I expect this win to result in some backlash nominations from the Academy, like Steven Yeun for Best Actor, even though the HFPA will probably try to take credit for giving the film exposure.
But worst of all are the three Actress categories. In a year where the competition among the leading and supporting ladies is tighter than it’s been in recent memory, the HFPA took the ultra super mega uber brave step of… punting on all three and giving wins to women who aren’t nominated anywhere else. Among their 10 Best Actress nominees, neither Andra Day nor Rosamund Pike are nominated by the Screen Actors Guild or the Independent Spirit Awards. In fact, for Day, this is her only nomination as an actress of any kind, much less a win. Pike has been nominated across the spectrum in recent years, but this is her only nod for I Care a Lot. Then there’s Jodie Foster’s win for The Mauritanian, which is getting mixed to positive reviews (Andra Day’s performance is the consensus only thing that saves The United States vs. Billie Holiday from being a total failure; it averages 56% on Rotten Tomatoes), with many critics essentially saying it’s the textbook example of “mediocre awards bait.” Like Day and Pike, Foster is not up for a Spirit (the film is from a major studio, so not eligible) or a SAG Award, and this is so far her only nomination for this role from anybody.
This is supposed to be the year of the woman in the acting fields. Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, and Frances McDormand are going to duke it out for Best Actress, while Supporting Actress will feature new talent in Maria Bakalova and Helena Zengel while a rematch plays out between Olivia Colman and Glenn Close. But rather than weigh in on any of that, rather than even submit an opinion, in all three opportunities the HFPA shrugged their collective shoulders and gave the award to the nominees least likely to hear their name called on March 15. It’s both hilarious and tragic, not to mention infuriating, because you just KNOW that if/when all three are left off the Academy’s final list in two weeks, the HFPA will be the ones trying to brag like they knew better. It sickens me.
So that’s the Globes for another year. Did we learn something? Yes, mostly that it’s all still bullshit, but we likely also got a few clues as to how the rest of Awards Season might play out. This week we get the Annie nominations, next week it’s the BAFTAs and the remaining major guilds, and in two weeks, the main event begins with the Oscar nominations, at which point we can fully expunge our memories of this nonsense. Keep it locked here for updates!
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you agree with these choices? Do you think I’m being too hard on the HFPA? If so, how does it feel to be wrong? Let me know!