78th Golden Globes Film Nominations Spark Controversy


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The unveiling of the Golden Globes nominations on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo by Robyn Beck | Courtesy of AFP)

By Frank Gardner, Assistant Arts Editor


The 2021 Golden Globes will be presented on Feb. 28, ushering in an awards season judging a year fraught with unique challenges for filmmakers. The Globes’ film nominations this year managed to accomplish what they always do with some predictable picks, surprising snubs and a small step toward progress.

This Year’s Film Nominations

Netflix continues to dominate awards nominations for both television and film among streaming services. This year alone they have received 22 Golden Globes nominations. However, it seems like HBO, Disney+, and Apple TV originals are beginning to shine through as well. Streaming services benefitted from the chaos of 2020 in film especially. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was among the first to change award eligibility rules to allow films that did not hold a designated number of screenings in Los Angeles to be nominated. This was a welcome change that many have called for since Netflix and other services began producing critically-acclaimed content.

A notable step forward in this year’s motion picture nominations is in the category of Best Director. Three out of five of the directors nominated are women. Female-directed works nominated this year include Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman,” Regina King for “One Night in Miami,” and Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland.”

Aaron Sorkin received his first nomination for directing following many nominations and awards for screenplays. David Fincher, who has now been nominated four times and awarded once in this category, was also nominated.

Controversial Silence and Snubs

Questionable nominations and snubs have risen eyebrows among industry writers and self-proclaimed film-buffs. Some of this controversy surrounds “Minari,” a U.S.-made film written and directed by University of Utah alum Lee Isaac Chung, and its ineligibility for the Best Motion Picture – Drama category. The Globes rules on the matter state that “any film with at least 50% of non-English dialogue goes into the foreign-language category, and movies that compete for best foreign-language film can’t win the best musical/comedy or best drama prize.” Critics cite the Globes’ double standard with films like “Inglorious Basterds,” which contains a large portion of non-English dialogue, still competing for the Drama category.

“Minari” was snubbed in other categories as well, though actors of the film Steven Yeun and Han Ye-ri have garnered broad critical acclaim for their performances.

James Corden’s nomination for his work in the Ryan Murphy musical “The Prom,” was also criticized. Though the actor himself is straight, he plays a stereotypical gay man. Sia’s film “Music,” also received two controversial nominations, for casting Maddie Ziegler to play a non-verbal autistic girl though she is not autistic herself. Films that were spearheaded by Black filmmakers or star-studded with Black actors were obviously shutout of nominations. Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” a drama about the Vietnam War, received no nominations from the HFPA when it was expected to receive at least a nod for Best Director, Best Actor, or Best Drama. Similarly, though Regina King was nominated for her directorial debut in “One Night in Miami,” the film was not nominated for best drama, as expected.

The Beginning of an Exciting Awards Season

Golden Globes nominations fall short this year in many ways. It seems they chose to champion performances that they thought were good representations of typically under-represented groups. Unfortunately, they did this without nominations for actors and directors in these groups. Perhaps vocal criticism of these snubs and misplaced nominations will help the HFPA move forward. For now, we can only hope that the 93rd Oscar nominations award representation over harmful stereotypes. 


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