Golden Globe Awards, one of the highest-profile — and most fun — awards ceremonies prior to the biggest one of all, the Oscars. And, as usual, they were all over the place.
Spanish-language Roma, an acclaimed Mexican movie that one might assume would play well with an international group accustomed to subtitles, was actually ineligible for a best picture nom — only English-language films are, although foreign-language films are eligible in all other categories. That’s probably why the campaigns behind A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t object to being classified as dramas with music, as opposed to musicals (which, with comedies, compete in a different category at the Globes). A Star Is Born, which the HFPA likes less than other groups (some members are, well, vocally opposed to it), and Bohemian Rhapsody, which it likes more than other groups, were joined in the top drama category by three race-centric pics, BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk and Black Panther. My sense is that HFPA members genuinely like the first two movies and know they are “supposed” to like Black Panther, even if comic-book adaptations are not really their cup of tea (it is the first one ever nominated for the top drama prize), which is why it beat out the likes of First Man, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, A Quiet Place and Widows for the category’s final slot.
The other best picture field, recognizing musicals and comedies, filled out as exactly as expected. The Favourite and Green Book, both immensely popular with the HFPA, were joined by latecomer Vice, which exceeded all expectations by bagging a field-leading six total noms (one more than The Favourite or Green Book, not to mention A Star Is Born). Additionally, it included Mary Poppins Returns (the HFPA has never met a musical it didn’t love, having previously nominated in this category even the likes of Burlesque and Nine) and the landmark Crazy Rich Asians (this decade’s version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which HFPA included in this field 15 years ago). As much as some members might have been tempted to nominate Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, they’ve been sufficiently scalded in years past for nominating schlock, and it was simply too strong a year for other options that had passionate but clearly not large enough constituencies, such as Eighth Grade, The Death of Stalin and Paddington 2.
The Globes’ director and screenplay categories, which consider films of all genres, help to illuminate the HFPA’s priorities far more than the Oscars’ do, since all HFPA members weigh in on the nominees in all categories, whereas only segments of the Academy pick nominees in their categories, with the exception of best picture — so take it as a valuable clue about how things will pan out on Globes night that the drama Roma and comedies Green Book and Vice are the only films that registered in both of those categories. A Star Is Born and BlacKkKlansman received nominations for their director (Bradley Cooper‘s first directing nod and Spike Lee‘s first in 29 years, respectively) but not their screenplay, while The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk received nominations for their screenplay but not their director (Yorgos Lanthimos and Barry Jenkins, respectively).
Which brings us to the acting races. For best actor (drama), Cooper and Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Rami Malek were slam dunks. After that, the famously star-friendly group could have picked from a pool of A-listers it loves, including Beautiful Boy‘s Steve Carell (who’s received nine noms in the past, one resulting in a win), First Man‘s Ryan Gosling (five noms, one win), The Front Runner‘s Hugh Jackman (three noms, one win) and The Mule‘s Clint Eastwood (12 noms, three wins) — the HFPA is the only group that has seen The Mule, and it has a history of voting for things that only it has been allowed to see, such as All the Money in the World last year. But instead, it bet on two very talented kids of celebs (something else they love), Boy Erased‘s Lucas Hedges and BlacKkKlansman‘s John David Washington, and a great performance from Willem Dafoe in the not-for-everyone At Eternity’s Gate.
As for best actor (musical or comedy), four slots were allocated as expected: to Vice‘s Christian Bale and Green Book‘s Viggo Mortensen, who are likely to duke it out for the win, as well as to Mary Poppins Returns‘ Lin-Manuel Miranda and allegedly retiring legend Robert Redford for The Old Man & the Gun. Then, rather than nominating, say, Carell for Welcome to Marwen or breakout star Henry Golding for Crazy Rich Asians, voters made the Sophie’s Choice-like decision to nominate Stan & Ollie‘s Oliver Hardy, John C. Reilly, but not its Stan Laurel, Steve Coogan.
On the distaff side, the drama leads included, as expected, A Star Is Born‘s Lady Gaga, The Wife‘s Glenn Close and HFPA favorite Nicole Kidman for Destroyer. Then, Can You Ever Forgive Me‘s Melissa McCarthy, best known for comedies but working more in the dramedy genre in this film, and A Private War‘s Rosamund Pike, who does career-best work in a movie from a new distributor that is fighting to get it seen, snuck in over the likes of Ben Is Back‘s Julia Roberts (voters still made sure to invite her to the ceremony for TV’s Homecoming) and Widows‘ Viola Davis. Because the HFPA loves to be a kingmaker (and queenmaker), it’s a tad surprising to me that it didn’t get behind Joanna Kulig, the Polish breakout star of Cold War, who, with a bit of momentum, could pull off a Marion Cotillard-like Oscar nom down the road — but, as we’ll come to in a moment, it clearly has some reservations about her film.
There were no real surprises among the musical/comedy actresses. The Favourite‘s Olivia Colman and Mary Poppins Returns‘ Emily Blunt will go head-to-head for the win, with Tully‘s Charlize Theron and two first-time nominees, Eighth Grade‘s 15-year-old star Elsie Fisher and Crazy Rich Asians‘ Constance Wu, hoping to prove a spoiler. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough room for Private Life‘s Kathryn Hahn.
The supporting categories, which consider performances in films of all genres, basically came off as anticipated. On the male side, some felt A Star Is Born‘s Sam Elliott and Black Panther‘s Michael B. Jordan would be included, but few would blink twice at a list comprising Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali (who was nominated but not awarded a Globe the season he won an Oscar for Moonlight), Beautiful Boy‘s Timothee Chalamet, Vice‘s Sam Rockwell and two first-time nominees, Can You Ever Forgive Me?‘s Richard E. Grant (31 years after he should have been nominated for his big-screen debut in Withnail and I) and BlacKkKlansman‘s Adam Driver. And, on the female side, there was some speculation that Kidman could snag a nom for Boy Erased — and it does seem a bit odd that she did not, considering her popularity with the group and the fact that her co-star Hedges got one — but she was held off by First Man‘s Claire Foy, a past Globe winner for The Crown, who joined four sure-thing nominees: Vice‘s Amy Adams, who the HFPA adores and strikes me as a likely winner (the still-Oscar-less actress already has two Globe wins to her name), plus The Favourite‘s Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz and If Beale Street Could Talk‘s Regina King (who is also nominated this year on the TV side for Netflix’s Seven Seconds).
All of the usual suspects were included for best animated feature — Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: Into the Spidey-Verse, plus GKIDS’ Mirai. But the other three film categories were more notable for what they excluded than included.
In the original song race, voters somehow managed to entirely avoid all tunes from the one musical they nominated for best picture, Mary Poppins Returns, while finding room for big names by recognizing Black Panther‘s “All the Stars” (Kendrick Lamar), Dumplin‘s “Girl in the Movies” (Dolly Parton), A Private War‘s “Requiem for a Private War” (Annie Lennox), Boy Erased‘s “Revelation” (Jonsi and Troye Sivan) — plus, of course, the one to beat, A Star Is Born‘s “Shallow” (Cooper and Gaga). It should be noted that docs are ineligible in all Globes categories, which is probably the only thing that kept “I’ll Fight,” the Diane Warren-penned/Jennifer Hudson-sung ballad from RBG, out of contention.
Original score noms went, more or less as expected, to Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman), First Man (Justin Hurwitz, a double-winner for La La Land) and Isle of Dogs (two-time winner Alexandre Desplat) — but the category was filled out by Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson) and A Quiet Place (Marco Beltrami), rather than If Beale Street Could Talk (Nick Britell), Widows (Hans Zimmer) or Green Book (Kristopher Bowers), a tad surprising.
And, in the foreign-language race, the path to victory for Mexico’s Roma was totally cleared by the inexplicable snubs of Poland’s Cold War and South Korea’s Burning, which should still cruise to Oscar nominations. The HFPA instead nominated Japan’s Cannes winner Shoplifters, Lebanon’s Capernaum, Germany’s Never Look Away (there are a lot of German HFPA members) and Netflix’s other foreign flick, Belgium’s divisive Girl.