The Golden Globes have always been a peculiar ritual. The statues are awarded by a clandestine group of foreign journalists, only 89 of whom vote. Top prizes are split into dramatic and comedic categories, often in confounding ways. Rather bizarrely, foreign-language films are not allowed to compete for the most prestigious awards.
This year, however, the surreal nature of the affair has been heightened by a pandemic-era question: The Globes are actually happening?
The five nominees for best drama could easily have ticket sales of zero. Almost every film in contention has been released online or is still awaiting release. Many cinemas have now been closed for 11 months.
For a lot of people, including some in Hollywood, it is hard to care about little golden trophies at a time when the coronavirus is still killing more than 1,000 Americans a day. Others will undoubtedly welcome the Golden Globes as a silly distraction — the reliable balm of celebrity self-involvement and did-you-see-that-ugly-outfit schadenfreude.
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will return as hostesses. The ceremony is planned for Feb. 28 and will be shown on NBC.
The Globes ostensibly exist to honor excellence in movies and television. But the real reason this show must go on involves money. NBC pays the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its producing partner, Dick Clark Productions, an estimated $65 million a year for broadcast rights. About 18 million people tuned in last year.
Globe nominations are coveted marketing tools; studios and streaming services will quickly roll out expensive ad campaigns based on the tallies. For the first time since the pandemic began, moviedom will have a national platform to use as a pep rally: “I’m Still Here!”
The Globes may also help steer an adrift Oscar race onto some kind of course. (The Oscars are planned for April 25.) David Fincher’s fading “Mank,” about Old Hollywood, could use a Globe nomination or five right about now. While “Hillbilly Elegy” was widely mocked, Globes voters could conceivably give Glenn Close a lift by recognizing her scenery-gnawing Mamaw. (It would be her 15th nomination.)
In truth, the Globes are not predictive of much. Over the last 20 years, the Globes and the Oscars have agreed on best picture winners 50 percent of the time. Last year, Globe voters chose “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and the war drama “1917” as best in class. Neither won at the Academy Awards, which recognized the genre-busting “Parasite.”
In keeping with its rules, the group did not nominate “Parasite,” a foreign-language film, for a best picture Globe.
What maddening peculiarities await this time around, when the nominations are announced Wednesday starting at 8:35 a.m. Eastern:
Streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon, will lead the way.
Netflix, only a competitor on the movie side of the Globes since 2016, will dominate to a jaw-dropping degree. It has homegrown films in contention — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Prom” — as well as films that it bought from pandemic-stricken traditional studios, specifically Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Among the television categories, the streaming service has established crowd pleasers (“The Crown,” “Ozark”) and shiny, new hits (“Bridgerton,” “The Queen’s Gambit.”)
Amazon will also receive an armload of nominations, with Regina King’s “One Night in Miami,” a fact-based drama about a meeting of four Black luminaries, positioned to pick up nods for best drama, director, screenplay and supporting actor (for Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Sam Cooke). And Globe voters will surely honor “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which arrived on Amazon Prime Video in October, in the best comedy or musical category, among others.
Some prognosticators are also betting that Amazon’s irreverent superhero series “The Boys” will receive a nomination for best television drama, which would be a big deal because the popular show, now in its second season, has mostly been overlooked by awards groups.
Expect a diverse slate of directors to be nominated.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has come under attack in recent years for failing to pay attention to inclusion and diversity. At the most recent ceremony, for instance, the group put forward — yet again — an all-male slate of directors, failing to nominate women like Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”).
Expect a corrective this year. It looks like both King and Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) are going to get recognized. Adding to that mix is likely to be Spike Lee for “Da 5 Bloods.” The war drama generated a strong critical response, and Lee has been nominated three times before by the group (most recently for directing “BlacKkKlansman”).
And, this year, his children, Satchel and Jackson, will serve as Golden Globe Ambassadors, a job that traditionally involves escorting winners off the stage. It wouldn’t be a family affair if Spike wasn’t there too.
Sophia Loren and Zendaya could compete in the actress categories.
The best actor in a drama category may also reflect a broad range of talents, with Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Steven Yeun (“Minari”), Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”), Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) and Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) all in the mix for nominations. Tom Hanks could rise for his “News of the World” frontiersman.
But the actress nominations are likely to make the noise.
Globe voters could include a legend, Sophia Loren, for her role as a Holocaust survivor who runs a day care for the children of local prostitutes in “The Life Ahead,” from Netflix. Or they could give that slot to an actress who represents the future, Zendaya, who has been praised for her performance in “Malcolm & Marie,” a black-and-white romantic drama (Netflix, again).
Meryl Streep, a 25-time Globe nominee and eight-time winner, could receive two nominations for best actress in a comedy or musical, one for her over-the-top “Prom” performance and another for playing an author trying to reconnect with friends in “Let Them All Talk.” Streep would likely be competing against the Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, for her ultra-crude, yet surprisingly sweet turn in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
The TV supporting actress category, as usual, has a plethora of candidates, adding a mini-modicum of suspense. Will voters make room for both Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter from “The Crown”? Also vying are Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”), Letitia Wright (“Small Axe”), Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”), Jessie Buckley (“Fargo”), Marielle Heller (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Julia Garner (“Ozark”). Garner and Aduba both won Emmys last year for their performances.
‘Minari’ is not allowed to compete for the top prize.
It wouldn’t be the Globes without a foreign-language film kerfuffle. This time, the group has egg on its face because Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” has to compete as a foreign-language entry — even though Mr. Chung is an American director, the movie was filmed in the United States, it was financed by American companies and it focuses on an immigrant family pursuing the American dream.
But the characters in “Minari” predominantly speak Korean. As a result, Globe rules require its banishment to the best foreign-language film race; it cannot be considered for the top prize.
“Hamilton,” on the other hand, will probably benefit from the group’s rules. As a recorded stage performance, “Hamilton” is not eligible for the Oscars. But the H.F.P.A. has no such hangup. So expect Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical to show up as a best comedy or musical nominee.