The Golden Globes are the slightly unpopular and over-dramatic cousin of the awards season family. The other ceremonies invite the Globes along to the party purely out of a kinship-driven sense of obligation, only to end up with their head in their hands as the Globes loudly spurt out the kind of contentious drivel and nonsensical rambling that only that dodgy uncle can deliver.
We shouldn’t even care. The Globes don’t carry anything like the prestige of the Oscars, BAFTAs or Emmys, probably because every Globes ceremony feels like you’re clobbering your own head with a mallet.
The Globes are desperate for one thing: attention. And remarkably, they succeed, if through nothing more than their sheer outlandishness. Yet to argue for their irrelevance is to ignore the influence of Hollywood’s powers that be, powers that have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.
Indeed, other awards ceremonies are hardly without controversy, but this year the Globes’ awarding committee looks to have fully gone off the chain, both for reasons of representation (or lack thereof), and for making some very odd choices.
“You might be demonstrating a failure to show appreciation.” – The Irishman
Here is what we have so far. The coveted Best Drama award will be contested between five films – 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story and (for some ungodly reason) The Two Popes. Of the five, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has received the most overall nominations (six). So far, nothing too incongruous… But from that point on, silliness ensues.
For a start, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is not nominated for Best Drama, but for Best Musical or Comedy. It is categorically neither of those things. Have the Globes just completely misunderstood the film, or did they just want to nominate Tarantino for something on reputation alone (without detracting from the film’s many qualities)? Yes, it has comedic moments in it, but you only have to compare it to the rest of the nominees to realise how inexplicable a decision this is. Dolemite is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out and Rocketman complete the list, all of which fit far more comfortably into the bracket than QT’s endeavour. To quote one of Tarantino’s regular collaborators, Tim Roth, “this is a whole new level of weird.”
Tarantino is also nominated for Best Director, along with Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite, Sam Mendes for 1917, Todd Phillips for Joker and Scorcese. Last we checked, this is 2020 – where are the female directors? The same is true for Best Screenplay, which again is an all-male list. The likes of Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood and Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart have been unfairly pushed aside in favour of the big (male) cinema names. It’s not to say that those nominated don’t deserve this recognition, but it is to say that many others beyond the tried and tested inner circle of Hollywood royalty are at least equally worthy of such accolades.
“This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.” – Hustlers
From Joaquin Phoenix to Jennifer Lopez, all nominees killed it in parts that play to their strengths, and the praise came rolling in. Best Actor in a Drama sees one of last year’s winners Christian Bale up against Phoenix, Jonathan Pryce, Adam Driver and Antonio Banderas (the latter for Pain and Glory, yet another snub this year). A notable absentee is Robert de Niro for The Irishman – despite his co-stars Joe Pesci and Al Pacino being nominated for their supporting roles. Best Actress in a Drama will be contested between Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron, Renée Zellweger, Cynthia Erivo and Scarlett Johansson. Of these, only one – Johansson, for Marriage Story – is nominated for a film also nominated for Best Drama.
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy is between Daniel Craig for his ridiculous but sensational turn as Benoit Blanc in Knives Out, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time, Taron Egerton for Rocketman and Eddie Murphy for Dolemite is my Name. Rounding off this category is a nomination for Roman Griffin Davis, who at 12 years old received his very first role in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy will be slugged out between Ana de Armas, Awkwafina, Cate Blanchett, Beanie Feldstein and Emma Thompson. Feldstein’s nod marks the only nomination for the fantastic Booksmart.
Supporting Actor yet again sees Tom Hanks pick up a nomination, but a win for Brad Pitt’s performance in Once Upon a Time would be a very popular win. They are in the running alongside Pacino, Pesci and Anthony Hopkins. Supporting Actress has been full of whispers about a win for Jennifer Lopez for some time now, while Annette Bening, Laura Dern, Kathy Bates and Margot Robbie complete this category.
“This is a twisted web, and we are not finished untangling it.” – Knives Out
The remaining nominations throw up some interesting issues, and in one case looks like a small act of rebellion against the Disney machine. One of Joker’s four nominations, and perhaps its least disputable, is for Hildur Guðnadóttir’s sensational score. Following her work on Chernobyl, it is no surprise the Icelandic composer is heading into the ceremony as a favourite. Her fellow nominees for Best Score are Randy & Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat and Daniel Pemberton. As for Best Original Song, it represents Rocketman’s best chance of an award thanks to ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.’ It is competing with Cats, Frozen II, Harriet and The Lion King.
Speaking of The Lion King, you can have a little laugh to yourself that Jon Favreau’s latest Disney goliath has been nominated for Best Animated Feature – a category which Disney don’t appear to be pushing for in the Oscars race. Favreau has been insisting that the remake of the 1994 classic is in fact not describable as such. A breath of fresh air then, that proves that for all of the Globes’ issues, they are not one to be bullied by the ever-powerful House of Mouse. Also in this list are Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Toy Story 4 and the wonderful new offering from Laika, Missing Link.
A final shoutout has to be given to Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, surely one of the year’s standout movies. It seems to have been almost forgotten and brushed aside in most of the major categories. Most thought-provoking is its nomination for Best Foreign Language Film – even though the film was produced in the United States. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association considers a film to classify as foreign language if it features “more than 50 percent non-English dialogue,” but as was arguably the case with Roma last year, it may give the Globes more leeway to award other films in other categories. It is not the only controversy involving Foreign Language films this year, following the disqualification of Lionheart from the Oscars race. We can only hope that The Farewell at least triumphs here – although it is far from a sure bet, with the likes of Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Les Misérables and Pain & Glory making this category one of the toughest to call.
So do the Globes really matter? Given how you’ve just read an article about them, the answer is probably yes. They don’t have the class or history of the Oscars, so instead try to holler louder than their more refined relative. It may be nonsensical and far from represent the film industry consensus, but then few awards ceremonies do. There may not have any sense, but when the Globes make their entrance by kicking down the door, that’s when you know the awards season is truly underway.
The Golden Globes 2020 ceremony will take place at 1AM (GMT) on Monday 6th.