“Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white tale of Old Hollywood, is nominated for six trophies at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, the most of any film. It has been available for viewing on Netflix since Dec. 4.
Seen it yet?
That’s OK. Neither have a lot of people in Hollywood.
What about “The Father,” about the devastation of dementia? It is a contender for best drama and three other prizes. Or perhaps “The Mauritanian,” set at Guantánamo and vying for two Globes in acting categories? Or the twice-nominated “Judas and the Black Messiah,” about Black political radicals in the 1960s? It actually received a national release in theaters (about 1,900 of the operating ones) this month.
Seen any of them?
Well, I don’t know what to tell you. Pretend like you have at least heard of a couple.
In a year when almost all of the nominated films have bypassed theaters because of the pandemic, the Globes — the biggest-tent awards show there is, given its dual focus on film and television — may feel rather small. Nominees have struggled to get noticed. For many people, including some in Hollywood, it is hard to care about little golden thingamabobs at a time when the coronavirus is still killing roughly 2,000 Americans on most days.
After an awkward pre-show, during which NBC presenters fawned over homebound nominees like Kate Hudson (“Music”) and Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”), the ceremony jolted to a start with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning as hosts. Fey thanked the smattering of first responders who attended the ceremony in person this time around “so the celebrities can stay safe at home.”
Appearing live from different locations (with technology that seemed to stitch them onto a shared stage) Fey and Poehler riffed on how to differentiate movies from television shows — not so easy in the pandemic age, when they have melded together on streaming services. “TV is the one that I watch five hours straight, but a movie is the one I don’t turn on because it’s two hours,” Poehler joked. “I don’t want to be in front of my TV for two hours. I want to be in front of my TV for one hour, five times.”
As has become custom, the hosts mocked the organization behind the Golden Globes. They ended on a serious note, however, castigating the group for having no Black members.
“Maybe you guys didn’t get the memo,” Fey said. “But you guys gotta change that.”
The traditional engine of the Golden Globes, a colossal red carpet, did not exist this time around. The honorees were all at home. (Accepting trophies from mansions and luxury hotel rooms, tonally fine. Preening for hours for photographers while draped in diamonds and couture gowns, apparently not.) Fey hosted the ceremony from the Rainbow Room in New York, with Poehler stationed at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. A smattering of frontline and essential workers were invited to attend in person, but the usual ostentatious supper was scuppered.
The 78th Golden Globes arrived amid a renewed sense that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the scandal-prone group that bestows the awards, needs a dramatic overhaul. The 80-some voting members have long been painted as out of touch and faintly corrupt, including by their own hosts; Ricky Gervais referred to them as “vegetables” during last year’s live broadcast. But recent news reports have revealed brutal infighting and a questionable fixation on compensation.
The group has no Black members, The Los Angeles Times discovered. The uproar over that fact gained traction over the weekend as various Hollywood celebrities and industry guilds weighed in with their displeasure. The 18,000 member Directors Guild condemned the group on its Facebook page, writing: “A cosmetic fix isn’t enough. When whole cultures are shut out of the conversation, their art and their voices are shut out as well.”
Other critical voices included G.L.A.A.D, Times Up, Color of Change and others. Times Up began using the Twitter hashtag #TIMESUPGLOBES, and the advocacy group took out a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times. Ava DuVernay, who in 2015 was the first Black woman nominated as best director by the H.F.P.A., tweeted: “Old news. New energy.” Despite the uproar, it did not appear that anyone was sitting out the night’s festivities, including DuVernay, who was scheduled to introduce a clip of “Hamilton,” which is nominated for best comedy or musical.
“The truth that’s not often discussed is that awards play a part in the economic reality of Black filmmakers, artists of color and women creators in this business,” DuVernay said in a statement she posted on social media. “Unfortunately, these shiny things matter to those who finance, greenlight, produce, distribute and market our projects.”
Toward the beginning of the show, three members of the H.F.P.A. appeared onstage for less than a minute to pledge to improve the group’s diversity. Helen Hoehne, the vice president of the organization, said, “We must have Black journalists within our organization,” while the former president and board chair Meher Tatna added, “We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table,” adding that they “are going to make that happen.”
The group’s current president, Ali Sar, concluded that the H.F.P.A. would “create an environment where a diverse membership is the norm,” though he did not give any specifics.
As soon as nominations were announced on Feb. 3, the foreign press association was harshly criticized for overlooking films with mostly Black casts, including Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods.” But the ceremony began with back-to-back honors for Black actors. The night’s first winner was Daniel Kaluuya, for best supporting actor for his performance as the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” John Boyega then won best supporting actor in a TV series for playing a police officer in Amazon’s “Small Axe.”
Pixar’s “Soul,” which featured a Black protagonist — an aspiring jazz musician in search of his inspiration — won the Globe for best animated film.
“One Night in Miami,” a fact-based drama about a meeting of four Black luminaries, received three nominations, including for Regina King’s directing and Leslie Odom Jr.’s portrayal of Sam Cooke. The film’s best hope, however, may be in the song category, where its contemplative “Speak Now,” sung and co-written by Odom, drew a nod.
Chadwick Boseman is the runaway favorite to win a posthumous Globe for his lead performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” But voters could veer toward Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), an eight-time nominee and never a winner, although he did receive a lifetime achievement Globe in 2006.
Carey Mulligan has the best actress edge for her raw-nerved revenge-seeker in “Promising Young Woman.” But honoring her would deny Viola Davis glory for her tour-de-force “Ma Rainey” performance. The H.F.P.A. could also go with McDormand, although she won the best actress Globe in 2018, and the press association usually likes to spread its love around.
Netflix was humiliated at the Globes last year. The streaming giant sashayed into the ceremony with a leading 34 total nominations and left … with one film award (Laura Dern won best supporting actress for “Marriage Story”) and one television honor (Olivia Colman, lauded for “The Crown”). Instead, voters mostly stuck with old-guard choices.
Expect this go-round to be different, in part because most traditional movie studios have been crippled by the pandemic. Netflix has 42 nominations, and two of its films, “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” are vying for best drama, the most prestigious award. No streaming service has ever won in this category.
If “Chicago 7” wins, boosting its Oscar chances, Paramount Pictures will have some egg on its face: The 109-year-old studio offloaded the film to Netflix over the summer. Aaron Sorkin won his third career Golden Globe for writing the movie’s screenplay.
Among the remaining best drama nominees, the Hollywood establishment is best represented by “Nomadland,” which stars Frances McDormand as a van dweller. “Nomadland” comes from the art-film powerhouse formerly known as Fox Searchlight (now just Searchlight, reflecting a change in corporate ownership). “The Father” and “Promising Young Woman,” also from traditional film companies, round out the nominees.
In another first, the Globe for best comedy or musical will almost assuredly go to a streaming service. According to the prognosticators at Gold Derby, an awards predictions site, the comedy or musical race is a tossup between “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon) and “Hamilton” (Disney+). Also nominated are “Palm Springs” (Hulu), “The Prom” (Netflix) and Sia’s “Music,” a woefully misguided video-on-demand release.
The TV categories are something of an afterthought at the Globes, which draws its power from proximity to the Oscars. The foreign press association has tried to rectify the imbalance in recent years by rallying behind shows that have yet to pop. Globe voters, for instance, helped “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Transparent” gain wider attention. (On the other hand, the less said about their early support for “Mozart in the Jungle,” the better.)
“Ted Lasso,” a fish-out-of-water sports comedy on Apple TV+, is expected to benefit this year. The freshman series could win the Globe for best comedy, allowing the H.F.P.A. to one-up the Emmys and appear forward-thinking: Apple has yet to win a truly huge prize on Hollywood’s marquee awards circuit. Adding to the moment, Jason Sudeikis, who stars in “Ted Lasso,” may pick up a Globe for his performance.
Last year, controversy greeted the foreign press association’s nominees for directing. Once again, all five slots went to men. Only one woman has ever won the directing Globe: Barbra Streisand in 1984 for “Yentl.”
This year, Regina King, the force behind “One Night in Miami,” and Emerald Fennell, who directed “Promising Young Woman,” both received nominations — along with Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), who is expected to win, at least according to Las Vegas bookies and the experts at Gold Derby. The other nominees are Fincher (“Mank”) and Aaron Sorkin, who directed “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Sorkin badly wants to be recognized as a director, but he will probably have to make do with another writing plaudit, this time for his “Chicago 7” screenplay. Fennell could pull off a surprise victory, however, with her twisty “Promising Young Woman” script.
Award-show viewers tend to hate it when honorees express political views, but the platform often proves irresistible, as when Meryl Streep threw down the gauntlet for a new kind of culture war in 2017. This year’s lifetime achievement recipients are Norman Lear (television) and Jane Fonda (movies). Brace yourselves.
The celebrated “Minari,” about a Korean-American family in the Ozarks, will almost certainly be named best foreign-language film. (In a head-scratching policy for an awards show adjudicated by people from overseas, foreign-language films are ineligible for best picture accolades.)
Among TV shows, “The Crown” was expected to have a winning night, with honors that are likely to include best drama. (It previously won in 2017.) Emma Corrin received her first Globe for her uncanny portrayal of Princess Diana, and Gillian Anderson could win her second for playing Margaret Thatcher. (Alas, the mouse from episode three was not nominated.)
“The Mandalorian,” “Lovecraft Country,” “Ozark” and “Ratched” are also nominated for best TV drama.
“The Queen’s Gambit” and its young star, Anya-Taylor Joy, are favorites in the limited-series categories.