There was nothing totally out of the blue this year, unlike yesteryear’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, In Bruges or The Tourist. But there is still plenty to talk about in the wake of Monday morning’s announcement by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of its nominations for the 77th Golden Globe Awards, including some notable surprises and snubs.
Between dramas and musicals/comedies, Netflix claimed four of the 10 best picture slots, with the drama Marriage Story leading the entire field with six noms. But, my sense is that three other films are even stronger contenders: Netflix’s The Irishman for best picture (drama), Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for best picture (musical/comedy) and Neon’s Parasite for best foreign language film. Why? Because they are the only nominees in their respective categories that also scored noms for directing and screenplay, for which there are only five nominees chosen from across the genres.
In the top drama race, The Irishman and Marriage Story are joined by a third Netflix entry, The Two Popes, which got an urgent shot of adrenaline with four Globe noms after failing to register much with other awards groups; Universal’s late-breaking standout 1917; and Warner Bros.’ controversial Joker. This was pretty much as expected, although some thought Ford v. Ferrari would crack the category. (Also of note: The Banker, the release plans of which Apple has scrapped due to controversy, was eligible and did have quite a bit of support, one HFPA member told me on Monday morning, adding, “I think it must have come close.”)
The top musical/comedy race will pit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood against Fox Searchlight’s Holocaust dramedy Jojo Rabbit; Lionsgate’s murder-mystery Knives Out, which had a banner showing with this mention plus two acting noms; Netflix’s Eddie Murphy vehicle Dolemite Is My Name; and Paramount’s Elton John biopic Rocketman. Some HFPA members were vocal supporters of Booksmart, but apparently not enough.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t bode well for the cinematic adaptation of Cats that the HFPA, which was shown the film last Wednesday and loves musicals enough to have previously nominated Across the Universe, Hairspray, Mamma Mia!, Nine, Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns for best musical/comedy picture, only nominated Cats for best original song. One source close to the pic suggests that this was because the organization was shown, at the last minute, an unfinished cut of the film, and not enough members were able to be there.
This year’s foreign language film race is more interesting than usual, with three Globe nominees — Parasite, The Farewell and Pain and Glory — that are legitimate best picture Oscar contenders. They are joined by two French films, Les Miserables and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the former of which was chosen over the latter as the country’s official Oscar entry.
The directing race is comprised of The Irishman‘s Martin Scorsese, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s Quentin Tarantino, Parasite‘s Bong Joon-ho, 1917‘s Sam Mendes and — somewhat surprisingly — Joker‘s Todd Phillips, rather than Marriage Story‘s Noah Baumbach. It’s hard to understand how the director of the film that received the most overall noms doesn’t get a personal invitation to the party, but there you go.
Some — including HFPA members with whom I spoke on Monday — are very upset that no female helmers were nominated this year. After all, it was only a year ago that Natalie Portman called out the “all male nominees” in the directors category during the Globes telecast. But it’s frankly not that surprising — there are 10 best picture slots, as opposed to five best director slots, and none of those went to, or were widely predicted to go to, films helmed by women, which this year included Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women, Alma Har’el‘s Honey Boy, Olivia Wilde‘s Booksmart, Kasi Lemmons‘ Harriet, Marielle Heller‘s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Melina Matsoukas‘ Queen & Slim, Chinonye Chukwu‘s Clemency and Hustlers‘ Lorene Scafaria. The Farewell‘s Lulu Wang probably came closest. Meanwhile, the directors of six films that were nominated for best picture — Baumbach, Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes), Rian Johnson (Knives Out), Craig Brewer (Dolemite Is My Name) and Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman) — were also left out.
Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, The Irishman and The Two Popes are the five screenplay nominees. The only one about which there was ever any doubt was The Two Popes, which beat out the likes of 1917, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women and Farewell, and is said to be extremely popular with the HFPA.
The best actor (drama) race was as cutthroat as any, with only two mortal locks: Joker‘s Joaquin Phoenix and Marriage Story‘s Adam Driver. They will compete alongside The Two Popes‘ Jonathan Pryce, Pain and Glory‘s Antonio Banderas and Ford v Ferrari‘s Christian Bale. Considering the popularity of The Irishman, it’s a bit surprising not to see Robert De Niro among the final five, but, as a producer of the film, he was nominated for best picture (drama), and the HFPA famously likes to do whatever it can to get as many stars to its party as possible.
Also MIA from the category: Uncut Gems‘ Adam Sandler (his prospects were sunk last week when the HFPA overturned A24’s submission of the film as a musical/comedy) and Just Mercy‘s Michael B. Jordan (the film has plummeted off the awards radar of late), as well as 1917‘s George Mackay and Richard Jewell‘s Paul Walter Hauser (the HFPA has always gravitated towards veterans and household names, especially when it comes to male actors).
Best actress (drama) slam-dunks were always Judy‘s Renee Zellweger, Bombshell‘s Charlize Theron and Marriage Story‘s Scarlett Johansson. They are joined by Harriet‘s Cynthia Erivo and Little Women‘s Saoirse Ronan, who held off Us‘ Lupita Nyong’o and, according to an HFPA source, American Woman‘s Sienna Miller, who had quite a bit of support for a film that has had very little promotion.
Best actor (musical/comedy) looks like a showdown between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s Leonardo DiCaprio and Dolemite‘s Murphy, who are joined in competition by Rocketman‘s Taron Egerton, Knives Out‘s Daniel Craig and Jojo Rabbit‘s 12-year-old star Roman Griffin Davis. There weren’t many alternatives for this category, especially after the Uncut Gems reclassification took Sandler out of the running.
Meanwhile, Farewell‘s Awkwafina looks like the clear frontrunner in the distaff musical/comedy race, an utterly bizarre field which includes two up-and-comers — Knives Out‘s Ana de Armas and Booksmart‘s Beanie Feldstein (whose co-star Kaitlyn Dever may have been passed over here because she was also competing, and was ultimately nominated, for the TV limited series Unbelievable) — and two veterans in movies that have otherwise not been a part of the awards conversation at all, Where’d You Go Bernadette‘s Cate Blanchett and Late Night‘s Emma Thompson.
The supporting acting races, like director and screenplay, consider people for dramas and musicals/comedies alike. The supporting actor field is exactly what everyone expected: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s Brad Pitt, The Irishman‘s Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, The Two Popes‘ Anthony Hopkins and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘s Tom Hanks. It was probably wishful thinking to imagine that Just Mercy‘s Jamie Foxx, Honey Boy‘s Shia LaBeouf or Parasite‘s Song Kang Ho ever really stood a chance against this group.
The supporting actress race, meanwhile, pits Marriage Story‘s Laura Dern and Hustlers‘ Jennifer Lopez, the two favorites, against Bombshell‘s Margot Robbie, Richard Jewell‘s Kathy Bates and The Report‘s Annette Bening. This one was much more fluid, which is why it will come as a disappointment to some that Jojo Rabbit‘s Johansson, Bombshell‘s Nicole Kidman (a longtime HFPA favorite), Little Women‘s Florence Pugh and Farewell‘s Zhao Shuzhen came up short.
As for the remaining categories? Animated feature includes the usual suspects — Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Missing Link — plus, rather surprisingly, The Lion King (which Disney has opted not to even enter for consideration for the corresponding Oscar), rather than Netflix’s I Lost My Body or Klaus. Original score includes cousins Randy Newman (Marriage Story) and Thomas Newman (1917), as well as Little Women (Alexandre Desplat), Motherless Brooklyn (Daniel Pemberton) and Joker (Hildur Guðnadóttir) — no major surprise. And original song, as one would expect with the HFPA, is stacked with A-listers, including Taylor Swift (Cats‘ “Beautiful Ghosts,” co-written by Andrew Lloyd Webber), John (Rocketman‘s “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” co-written by Bernie Taupin) and Beyonce (Lion King‘s “Spirit,” co-written by Timothy McKenzie and Ilya Salmanzadeh), plus Cynthia Erivo (Harriet‘s “Stand Up,” co-written by Joshuah Brian Campbell) and the husband-wife duo of Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen 2‘s “Into the Unknown”). Bummed must be other A-listers who were in the mix, such as Ed Sheeran (Yesterday‘s “One Life”) and Thom Yorke (Motherless Brooklyn‘s “Daily Battles”).
Most disappointed are surely those associated with films that were totally left out in the cold. Such dramas include Ad Astra, The Banker, Clemency, Dark Waters, Downton Abbey, The Good Liar, A Hidden Life, Honey Boy, Just Mercy, The King, The Lighthouse, Queen & Slim, Us and Waves, and such musicals/comedies include Blinded by the Light, Good Boys, The Laundromat, Long Shot, The Peanut Butter Falcon, Uncut Gems, What Men Want and Yesterday.
But they should not despair. After all, as Scarlett O’Hara once said, tomorrow — or, in this case, Wednesday, when SAG Award nominations will be announced — is another day.