For decades, the Golden Globes have felt suspiciously like an excuse for a small group of undistinguished, historically very white journalists to throw a big, boozy party with celebrities on television. So it’s maybe a little surprising that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out prizes for the best in film and television every year, has opted to move forward with their annual awards in 2022. After all, there will be no telecast of those awards this coming January; NBC pulled the plug on airing the show last May, after weeks of controversy surrounding the HFPA’s questionable access practices and lack of diversity in membership (not to mention some very low ratings for the 2021 broadcast). What’s the point of the Golden Globes if they can’t get the current equivalent of Johnny Depp tipsy on live TV by nominating his performance in the current equivalent of The Tourist?
Perhaps the HFPA is just eager to preserve its status as a significant award-season precursor. Though their voters have no overlap with any other major organization or guild, the Globes are often thought of as a bellwether for the Oscars and (to a much lesser extent, given where they fall on the annual awards calendar) the Emmys. They help shape the race—or so the argument goes. But will the HFPA maintain that reputation within the cannibalistic awards-group ecosystem without a televised ceremony? What’s more, will the stars even show up to that ceremony after the very bad year the Globes just had and without any cameras to capture their dresses and speeches?
All that remains to be seen. Regardless, this morning’s nomination announcement offers a snapshot of an organization in the midst of a very public reckoning and identity crisis. Let’s take a closer look at the films, shows, and artists they opted to honor this year, with an eye towards the surprise inclusions and exclusions among the crop of nods.
Hold on, though. Are there any big surprises this year? Danette, I’m looking over this list of nominees, and—at least on the film side— seeing just about every title that’s been bandied about as a potential contender in the typically protracted, months-spanning period we like to call “awards season.” Regardless of what you think of the individual picks, these nominations feel like damning proof that searching for outside-the-box selections from the Golden Globes is a fool’s errand, even in a time when they’ve come under heavy scrutiny.
One of the numerous charges leveled against the Globes last year was the lack of diversity both in the organization’s ranks and in the awards categories themselves. (The group ignored several high-profile projects by and about Black Americans, including Judas And The Black Messiah, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and One Night In Miami…) Addressing the former, the HFPA invited 21 new members this year, including a number of Black journalists. Whether that change in membership shifted the nominations in a meaningful way is, of course, impossible to know. But this is the first year ever that three Black performers have been nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama, with Will Smith in King Richard, Denzel Washington in The Tragedy Of Macbeth, and Mahershala Ali in Swan Song up for the award. (I have a suspicion that all three will lose to Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power Of The Dog, which has been tipped as a big threat this season since it premiered in Venice; it picked up seven Globe nods, tying the inexplicably beloved Belfast for the title of nomination leader.)
Guillermo del Toro, who won Best Director at the Globes in 2018 for his last movie, didn’t catch a nomination from the HFPA this year. But that was expected—his Nightmare Alley launched late and has been a hit with neither audiences nor critics. Spencer, about a particularly fraught Christmas for Princess Diana, didn’t make much of a showing here either, though Kristen Stewart remains the likely frontrunner for Best Actress In A Motion Picture—Drama. And Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon was completely shut out, but that was fairly anticipated, too; the film hasn’t earned much traction this awards season. Can any of these be called surprises or even snubs?
As far as distributors are concerned, Netflix picked up the most film nominations, with nods for such films as The Power Of The Dog, Tick Tick… Boom!, and Passing. The streaming giant’s nominated slate also includes The Lost Daughter, which missed on Picture but scored actor turned first-time filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal a Best Director nod. (Olivia Colman’s fascinatingly inscrutable performance is also up; she might be Stewart’s closest competition in that category.) Meanwhile, Adam McKay’s broad, bitter doomsday comedy Don’t Look Up added four more nominations to Netflix’s 2022 haul, despite less-than-glowing reviews. What, you thought the Globes would turn down the chance to get Leo and J-Law at a table next month, regardless if NBC will air their appearances?
Perhaps the biggest story to be gleaned from the nominations on the film side is the extent to which the Globes embraced the big musical revival that audiences largely rejected in 2021. Though the Monday morning headlines have emphasized a disappointing opening weekend at the box office, West Side Story did well with HFPA, landing four nominations. It was joined by fellow musicals Tick Tick… Boom!, In The Heights, Cyrano, and the unlikeliest of Globe nominees, Annette, which scored Marion Cotillard a nomination in the category of Best Actress In A Motion Picture—Musical Or Comedy. Cotillard has to be considered the biggest surprise here, except when one considers that she got into a category specifically catered to performances in musicals and also the fact that she’s a major movie star. In the end, the Globes can’t resist the gravitational pull of celebrity, even in a movie as bugfuck weird as Leos Carax’s operatic English-language debut.
Like you, Alex, I’m struggling to register most of this year’s Globes nominees as surprise picks. The HFPA are mostly playing things safe, making a lot of the same picks as the 2021 Emmys, but nominating more people of color in the TV acting categories than has been its wont. It all feels designed to draw the bare minimum of attention—as we’ve seen, not all press is good press.
Voters did see fit to recognize the final season of Pose, which closed out the FX series with style and heart. This is a minor surprise, given that the HFPA mostly overlooked the period drama last year, aside from a Best Actor nomination for Billy Porter. But Pose scored three nominations, including one for Porter’s co-star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, who played the beatific Blanca, and one for Best TV Drama.
What’s both more and less surprising is the overall number of nominations for people of color. The acting nominees are still overwhelmingly white, but the HFPA’s more inclusive membership seem vested in highlighting the work of returning nominees like Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson as well as newcomers like Rodriguez and Omar Sy, the star of Netflix’s Lupin. Insecure creator and lead Issa Rae picked up her third Globes nomination, though that turned out to be the only nomination for the series. And, after overlooking Uzo Aduba’s work in Mrs. America last year, the HFPA nominated the Emmy winner for Best Lead Actress in a TV Drama for her role in bringing back In Treatment.
This does point to one of the biggest stories of the year—international releases like Squid Game, Lupin, and Money Heist were the real ratings juggernauts. Money Heist was ultimately left out of this year’s Globes race, but Squid Game and Lupin scored multiple nominations. Squid Game and Lupin’s presence here is only a surprise because of the HFPA’s track record; it’s good to see an international awards body recognize productions outside of Hollywood, but it also feels overdue.
Thanks to the return of Succession, HBO leads the race with 12 nominations, including nods for Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong in the Best Actor, TV Drama category. As we noted in our coverage, the absence of Succession created a more open field for the Emmys, leaving room for multiple acting nominations for shows like the by-then-canceled Lovecraft Country. But with Jesse Armstrong’s prestige drama firing on all cylinders for season three, we now have a frontrunner. There’s probably still some gas left in the tank for Mare Of Easttown, which fared well at the 73rd Emmys, so HBO could have a really big night in January.
One of the biggest snubs is also a genuine surprise, as Selena Gomez was the only member of Only Murders In The Building’s wonderfully in-tune core trio left out in the cold. Gomez is a key part of that series’ intergenerational charm, her Jane Lane-esque voice chiming in on the absurdity of the events that unfold at the Arconia. You’d think the HFPA would leap at the chance to bring Gomez in on the fun, given its history of singling out the ingenue. This could be an overcorrection in response to criticism about the group’s typically fawning ways. If so, then Emily In Paris continues to cast a long shadow.
Just as puzzling is the ongoing love for Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, which was considerably weaker and more scattered in its second season. But that didn’t stop the HFPA from nominating the series for Best TV Drama, and Mark Duplass and Billy Crudup for Best Supporting Actor. The Supporting Actor categories are always crowded, because they encompass all TV genres and formats, but the space taken up by TMS this year feels egregious when Zahn McClarnon turned in a poignant performance in FX’s (né FX on Hulu’s) Reservation Dogs, and Anthony Ramos was riveting as one of this season’s In Treatment patients.
One of the year’s best comedies, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi’s Reservation Dogs did get a series nod, but the young cast was snubbed along with McClarnon. Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, and Paulina Alexis are the prepossessing quartet at the heart of a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story. The Globes can typically be counted on to spotlight rising stars, and I doubt anyone would have begrudged these Indigenous actors their nominations. Again, it seems as though the HFPA tried to adhere to what’s worked for awards group this year, including nominating Hacks’ Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder in the same category (Best Actress, TV Comedy). Maybe it’s for the best that the Globes ceremony on January 9, 2022, won’t be televised, since it seems like it’ll just be a repeat of the 2021 Emmys—right down to the batch of nominations for Ted Lasso.