Golden Globes Confound With 'Music,' 'Hillbilly Elegy' Noms

I don't want to do this, but I have been left with no choice.

The nominations for the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards, which were unveiled on Wednesday morning, are a complete and utter embarrassment. Not just the announcement of them, which was poorly handled. But the list itself.

In a year in which no stars will actually be attending their shindig in person, one might have thought that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would set aside its worst impulses and pick its nominees more on the merits than usual, not less.

But the industry woke up bright and early to a best musical/comedy actress nom for Kate Hudson — and then a best musical/comedy picture nom — for pop star Sia's directorial debut, Music, a movie that one critic described as "scarcely less of a baffling fiasco" than Cats (it stands at an abysmal 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and is known, if at all, for casting a non-autistic actress as an autistic character.

I thought that we had moved on from the bad old days of the Globes awarding best picture noms to films like The Tourist and Burlesque, but alas, here we are again.

The musical/comedy field was pretty thin this year — even with the HFPA, if no other awards organization, classifying Hamilton, a recorded theatrical production, as a musical motion picture and nominating it as such — but outside of the HFPA bubble I think that On the RocksLet Them All TalkThe 40-Year-Old Version, I Care a LotFrench Exit, EmmaWild Mountain ThymeThe King of Staten Island or The Personal History of David Copperfield would have been regarded as far more rational options.

But that's not all. Hillbilly Elegy, which stands at an even worse 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, was recognized in the form of a best supporting actress nomination for Glenn Close. Close is a wonderful actress, but I suspect that not even she would argue that she deserves a nomination for this film, which has become a running joke, over, say, Youn Yuh-jung, the scene-stealing grandma from Minari who is the Meryl Streep of South Korea.

Speaking of Streep, she, oddly enough, was not nominated for best musical/comedy actress for The Prom, of which she was the best part — maybe she split her own support, as she was also eligible in the category for Let Them All Talk — but her co-star James Corden was nominated for best musical/comedy actor. I, for one, think Corden is a remarkable talent. But, like many, I felt uncomfortable watching a straight man mincing around as a gay character in a movie about homophobia.

I love Jared Leto, and I have nothing bad to say about his portrayal of a crime suspect in The Little Things, but the movie itself feels like it was intended primarily as a commercial play, and it stands at just 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so his best supporting actor nomination caught a lot of people off-guard — particularly given that the HFPA had required all of the One Night in Miami ensemble and all of the Da 5 Bloods ensemble (save for Delroy Lindo) to compete in that category, meaning Leto was chosen over Kingsley Ben-Adir from the former and the late Chadwick Boseman for the latter.

I guess the HFPA felt they had "taken care of" Boseman by nominating him for best drama actor for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, but the across-the-board shutout of Da 5 Bloods is hard to understand (Lindo appears to have been bounced from best drama actor by The Mauritanian's Tahar Rahim) — and is particularly awkward given that this year's "Golden Globe ambassadors" are slated to be Jackson Lee and Satchel Lee, Spike Lee's son and daughter.

One area in which I felt the HFPA was unjustly criticized ahead of the nominations was over its classification of Minari as a foreign-language film. Some made it seem as if the Korean-language drama — which is set in America and about immigrants to America — was being demeaned as a "foreign film" by being placed in that category, when, in fact, it clearly is a foreign-language film, and longstanding Globes rules, for better or worse, take foreign-language films out of the running for either best picture category and instead require them to compete in the foreign-language film category.

But, that being said, I would have thought that the HFPA would have been more sensitive about recognizing that film in other categories where it is eminently deserving. Instead, it received no noms apart from the foreign-language film category — not one for Youn in the supporting actress category, not one for Steven Yeun in the best drama actor category, and not one for Lee Isaac Chung in either the best director or best screenplay category.

That, coupled with the total exclusion from the best drama picture category of any of the four strong films centered on the Black experience in America — Da 5 BloodsJudas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, One Night in Miami and The United States vs. Billie Holiday — is not a great look. (One Night in Miami did receive a best director nom for Regina King and a best supporting actor nom for Leslie Odom Jr.; Ma Rainey got the best drama actor nom for Boseman and best drama actress nom for Viola Davis; Judas got a best supporting actor nom for Daniel Kaluuya and a best original song nom for H.E.R.'s "I'll Fight for You"; and Billie got a best drama actress nom for Andra Day and a best original song nom for Day's song with Raphael Saadiq, "Tigress & Tweed.")

But, credit must be given where credit is due, and the HFPA deserves a tip of the cap for doing something that it — and no other major awards organization of which I am aware — had never done before, which is allocating more of its best director noms to women than to men. It's not pandering, either, as One Night in Miami's King, Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell and Nomadland's Chloe Zhao are eminently worthy. (The other two directing nominees are David Fincher for Mank, the most nominated film of the year with six mentions, and Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7, which is right on its heels with five.)

Looking ahead to the virtual Golden Globe Awards ceremony on Feb. 28, I believe — based on these nominations and what I know about the HFPA — that Hamilton is the likely winner for best musical/comedy picture, while the much stronger best drama picture category will be a fight between the four films that received best director and best screenplay noms (the big tells with the HFPA): Mank, NomadlandPromising Young Woman and The Trial of the Chicago 7, with a slight edge to The Trial of the Chicago 7.

But a lot can still happen between now and the close of final voting on Feb. 23.

The Golden Globe Awards ceremony is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC.