The blackest, brownest, most feminist awards bunch in years.
I’ve been pretty late in reacting to the whole Golden Globes bunch. I only read them the other day. I’ve been doing podcasts and recordings so cut me some slack, but I thought I better write my thoughts about the 2021 Golden Globes or else you’ll keep nagging me to do so.
So how were the nominations for you? It will be really interesting to see how this ceremony pans out. It’s scheduled for February 28th this month, but will there be a red carpet, stars and journalists and photographers? Will they all be wearing masks? Or will they video-call from their bedrooms as has become tradition and a very familiar sight in post-2020 film festivals.
It’s a pleasingly diverse selection this year. There are three women - a historic feat - nominated for Best Director of a Motion Picture and two of those women, Regina King and Chloe Zhao, are of ethnic minorities.
There’s also two black nominees for Best Actress in Viola Davis (‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ (2020)) and Andra Day (‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ (2021)). Meanwhile Best Actor features a black man (the late Chadwick Boseman), an Asian man (Riz Ahmed) and a man of Algerian descent (Tahar Rahim). Personally, though, I would’ve liked to see Chadwick nominated for Best Supporting Actor rather than Best Actor as Viola Davis was the leading lady of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’.
The Brits did really well too in this year’s categories. It’s great to see two Brits in the Best Actor categories (Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed) for both Drama and Musical or Comedy. Anya Taylor-Joy got a nomination for ‘Emma’ (2020) and Carey Mulligan for ‘Promising Young Woman’ (2021) and Vanessa Kirby for ‘Pieces of a Woman’ (2021). There’s three Brits alongside Riz including Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins. Olivia Colman also got a nomination for ‘The Father’ (2020).
I’m of course disappointed that the best film of 2020, ‘Tenet’ (2020), didn’t get nominated for Best Picture Drama, but I know many don’t share my view. It’s David Fincher’s year to win both Best Picture and Best Director. ‘Mank’ (2020) is a brilliant film about the making of the so-called greatest movie ever made, ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941), and depicts 1940s Hollywood - a golden age. This is where the Golden Globes are set and celebrating and so a film about the dark heart of Hollywood is, of course, going to win the big prize.
The rest of the dramatic Best Picture selection is very safe and very awards-bait. It’s no surprise that we’ve got two biopics (‘Mank’ and ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ (2020)) and a movie starring awards darling, Frances McDormand, about a woman who goes travelling around the United States in ‘Nomadland’ (2021). It’s not like we haven’t seen that before and there’s a movie about dementia (‘The Father’ (2021)) - a disease we’ve been seeing a lot of lately in ‘Falling’ (2020), ‘Relic’ (2020) and ‘The Roads Not Taken’ (2020).
I haven’t seen ‘The Father’ or ‘Nomadland’ so will wait to pass judgement. The only one I haven’t seen that really interests me, though, is ‘Promising Young Woman’ (2021) with Carey Mulligan. It’s about a woman whose best friend was raped and so seeks vengeance. This looks pretty raunchy and racy for typically sedate awards-bait fare. One of its reviews also caused controversy because they basically said Carey Mulligan wasn’t hot enough. Maybe this will be the dark horse contender to watch.
I’m not even going to bother talking about the Best Musical or Comedy category because they’re usually crap and I haven’t seen any of them - not even ‘Borat: Subsequent Film’ (2020).
So who were the big snubs at this year’s Golden Globes? It’s very disappointing that Kingsley Ben-Adir wasn’t nominated for ‘One Night in Miami’ (2021). He was terrific as Malcolm X. There’s no nomination too for Alfre Woodard in ‘Clemency’ (2020) which was the best performance by any actor last year. ‘Clemency’ wasn’t eligible for this year’s awards because it was eligible last year, but only came out in the UK last summer. Weird, isn’t it?
Perhaps this raises the debate about whether we shouldn’t be awarding films and TV shows separately and whether we should just be awarding actors for performances regardless of whether they’re in films or on TV. Several of the ‘Small Axe’ films such as ‘Mangrove’ (2020), ‘Lovers Rock’ (2020) and ‘Red, White and Blue’ played at film festivals. The line between TV and Film is becoming blurred and they’re almost indistinguishable for one another nowadays.
I was disappointed by the lack of foreign language films and actors in the major categories - apart from German child star Helena Zengal for ‘News of the World’ (2021). ‘Parasite’ (2020) made history by becoming the first foreign language film to win the Best Picture Oscar. This year’s foreign language film list looks a bit bland - especially ‘The Life Ahead’ (2020) which I actually watched dubbed in English.
The worst thing was seeing a nomination for ‘Emily in Paris’ (2020). WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! That show is a cultural travesty and, as much as I like Lily Collins, she does not deserve to be nominated for Best Actress.
Overall, though, a really good selection of films and performers. There’s a lot of diversity and a lot of gender equality. It’s clear the awards panels are listening to our concerns about levelling the playing field. They’ve responded by giving us the blackest, brownest, most feminist awards bunch in years. All eyes will be on the February 28th ceremony to see if awards still have a place in the Covid world…
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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