Golden Globe Awards Nominations: Key Stats, Inclusions and Snubs (Analysis)

The Descendants - Movie Still of George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Nick Krause and Amara Miller - H - 2011
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Earlier this morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced the nominees for the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards -- which will take place in Hollywood on Sunday, Jan. 15 -- and there were numerous noteworthy surprises and snubs. Here's my best attempt to make sense of it all.

COMPLETE LIST: 2012 Golden Globe Awards Nominees


  • The Artist, a black-and-white silent movie, garnered a field-leading six nominations: the film for best picture (musical or comedy), Michel Hazanavicius for best director, Jean Dujardin for best actor (musical or comedy), Berenice Bejo for best supporting actress, Hazanavicius for best screenplay and Ludovic Bource for best original score.
  • Close behind on the nominations leaderboard are The Descendants and The Help with five; The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris and Moneyball with four; and Albert Nobbs and Hugo with three.


  • The HFPA is famous for nominating famous actors and actresses for performances at which others scoff, and while last year's public chiding from host Ricky Gervais may have kept them a bit more in-line this year than in others -- indeed, there was no nod for Johnny Depp for The Rum Diary or Anne Hathaway for One Day -- they still couldn't resist making a few egregiously inappropriate nominations: Carnage has been pilloried by critics and audiences alike and no one associated with it has been nominated or honored by any other awards group, but Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet both managed to score best actress (musical or comedy) Globe nods.
  • The HFPA really likes George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, so they doubled-down on them this year: Clooney was nominated for best actor (drama) for The Descendants, which is perfectly legitimate, and for best director for The Ides of March, which is surprising but justifiable, since they apparently liked the film enough to nominate it for best picture (drama). Gosling, meanwhile, was nominated for Ides for best actor (drama) and also for Crazy Stupid Love for best actor (musical or comedy).
  • The HFPA also has some odd loyalties. For whatever reason(s), they seem to love Brendan Gleeson a lot more than any other awards group, having nominated him for best actor (musical or comedy) for In Bruges three years ago and now for The Guard, another little film that no one else is talking about.
  • All things being equal, the HFPA will usually award a performance in a commercial studio film over a performance in a little indie, and this year was no exception. Among their selections this year: Jessica Chastain (for The Help rather than The Tree of Life) for best supporting actress, Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) for best actress (drama), and Jonah Hill (Moneyball) for best supporting actor. To their credit, they also managed to fit in a few standout perfs given by actors' actors in smaller movies, including: Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) for best actress (drama), Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method) for best supporting actor, and Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) for best supporting actress.


  • Somewhat surprisingly, the HFPA completely snubbed a handful of star-studded films, including Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for which they could have nominated Tom Hanks for best supporting actor and/or Sandra Bullock for best supporting actress; We Bought a Zoo, for which they could have nominated Matt Damon for best actor (musical or comedy) and/or Scarlett Johansson for best supporting actress; Margin Call, for which they could have nominated Kevin Spacey and/or Jeremy Irons for best supporting actor; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, for which they could have nominated Gary Oldman for best actor and Colin Firth for best supporting actor; Melancholia, for which they could have nominated Kirsten Dunst for best actress (drama); and The Tree of Life, for which they could have nominated Brad Pitt for best supporting actor -- not to worry, though, they took care of him for Moneyball!
  • The HFPA also completely ignored a handful of critically-acclaimed indies that do not feature A-list stars, including Martha Marcy May Marlene, for which they could have nominated Elizabeth Olsen for best actress (drama) and/or John Hawkes for best supporting actor; Like Crazy, for which they could have nominated Felicity Jones for best actress (drama); Take Shelter, for which they could have nominated Michael Shannon for best actor (drama); and Coriolanus, for which they could have nominated Ralph Fiennes for best actor (drama) and/or Vanessa Redgrave for best supporting actress.
  • Rather bizarrely, SAG, which is generally more conservative in its choices, nominated Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), the year's most unlikely breakthrough star, for best supporting actress, but the HFPA did not, despite liking her film enough to nominate it for best picture (musical or comedy) and her costar Kristen Wiig for best actress (musical or comedy). Others who were nominated yesterday by SAG but not today by the HFPA: best actor nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and best supporting actor nominees Armie Hammer (J. Edgar) and Nick Nolte (Warrior).
  • Because there are only five slots in the best director category, the HFPA could not accomodate A-listers like Steven Spielberg (War Horse), David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar), to say nothing of the lesser-known directors of their best picture (drama) nominees The Help (Tate Taylor) and Moneyball (Bennett Miller).