With all the talk about the diversification of the “new” Hollywood Foreign Press Association, particularly in terms of recruiting Black members in order to make up for the sheer paucity of them as revealed originally in a now infamous Los Angeles Times report, it might be one of this morning’s key surprises in the nominations for the 80th Golden Globe Awards, that not a single film with strong Black themes or actors or behind the camera talent was among the Best Picture nominees in either Drama or Comedy/Musical categories. Most egregiously missing in those key categories, as well as directing and writing were hotly awards-buzzed The Woman King, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Till, the latter film completely shut out despite heavy Oscar attention expected for its star Danielle Deadwyler who last week was named Best Lead Performance at the Gothams as well as Best Actress at the Critics Choice Celebration of Black Cinema & Television. Will Smith’s return in Emancipation from director Antoine Fuqua also was AWOL, although considering its decidedly mixed critical reception and inherent controversy (although not with the Globes) that isn’t all that surprising to see it snubbed.
Only Viola Davis for her lead role in The Woman King, Jeremy Pope for his lead role in the otherwise ignored The Inspection, and Angela Bassett for her Supporting turn in Wakanda Forever made the cut among Black actors. The opportunity to nominate women of color in the directing category was also not taken as Woman King’s Gina Prince-Bythewood and Till’s Chinonye Chukwu did not make the list which actually completely snubbed female directors in a year that included strong movies also helmed by women including Women Talking and She Said.
The voting body of the Globes now includes all the original 90 or so members pre-scandal who are also paid a five figure salary for their work with the group, as well as another 100 or so, heavily diverse, selected from around the globe to add to the voting pool. With these changes it is probably most surprising that there isn’t more diversity among the nominations overall, although it was a strong day for those of Asian descent with the love for Everything Everywhere All At Once, including directing and writing nods for co-director Daniel Kwan, and acting mentions for star Michelle Yeoh and Supporting Actor Ke Huy Quan. Triangle of Sadness Supporting Actress Dolly De Leon, who hails from the Philippines, also was among nominees of Asian descent. Cuba’s Ana de Armas of Blonde and Mexico’s Diego Calva of Babylon also rated acting nominations in a field that was still predominantly filled with white actors. Guillermo del Toro was strongly represented with Animated Feature, and Song nominations for his wonderful Pinocchio, although fellow superstar Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo was completely snubbed, most surprisingly even in the Foreign Language film category.
To the credit of the Globes, The Whale’s Brendan Fraser landed a lead actor in Drama nomination despite making some very public comments against the Globes and stating he would not attend (if nominated). It all goes back to an incident with former HFPA President Phil Berk years ago that deeply affected the star. On the other hand Tom Cruise, who has earned strong awards buzz for his performance in Top Gun: Maverick was snubbed in the Lead Actor Drama category (something unthinkable in the past with the Globes superstar-friendly reputation), although the film is up for Best Picture Drama and he is a producer on it. When the Times story revealed there were no Black members in the HFPA, Cruise was among the most vocal and sent back his three Golden Globe statuettes to the group. He called his rep and asked for their address (!)
What struck me overall about the Globes film nominations is how they cover the waterfront – despite aforementioned snubs – since there are separate categories in Picture and Lead Acting for Drama and Comedy/Musical, meaning many that haven’t been front of mind so far this awards season get a chance to tout a Globe nomination, and that refreshingly includes Lesley Manville in Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris and Emma Thompson in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande , both up for Lead Actress Comedy/Musical, and both highly deserving entrants from films released over the summer.
The Globes also gave a boost to Paramount’s Babylon, which opens next week and landed its first awards mentions of the season as Best Picture Comedy/Musical, and acting nominations for Calva, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie, along with Music Score. However it is apparent that this race has some front runners, notably The Banshees of Inisherin which led with 8 nominations across the board, and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans which had 5, but in all the key categories. With 6 nominations A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once is formidable too, setting up a showdown with Inisherin in the Comedy category, as well as writing and directing. LA and NY Critics winner Tar could be competition for Fabelmans in Drama, although Todd Field failed to get a key directing nomination. Elvis, despite only 3 nominations, could be formidable here too, since director Baz Luhrmann was also nominated along with star Austin Butler.
The bigger questions still remain to be answered. Will all these newly minted nominees actually show up on the red carpet, and will the studios all be heavily touting their Globe nominees in ads going forward? In the past a Globe nomination and a win were a key component of awards season, almost a necessity.
The Globes, celebrating their 80th birthday this year, will return to NBC (after the network banned it last year) on a Tuesday, January 10, 2023. In pre-pandemic, pre-scandal times it always was known as the party of the year, and often lived up to that with studios taking over different party spaces at the Beverly Hilton to celebrate their nominees and wins after the show. Just how many will be in a partying mood this year? We will find out soon enough. NBC renegotiated their contract with the HFPA for this year only, and there is an option that they may, or may not renew. A lot is on the line and Hollywood will be watching. The question is just how much will Hollywood be participating.