Here’s what you need to know:
“Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white tale of Old Hollywood, is nominated for six trophies at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, the most of any film. It has been available for viewing on Netflix since Dec. 4.
Seen it yet?
That’s OK. Neither have a lot of people in Hollywood.
What about “The Father,” about the devastation of dementia? It is a contender for best drama and three other prizes. Or perhaps “The Mauritanian,” set at Guantánamo and vying for two Globes in acting categories? Or the twice-nominated “Judas and the Black Messiah,” about Black political radicals in the 1960s? It actually received a national release in theaters (about 1,900 of the operating ones) this month.
Seen any of them?
Well, I don’t know what to tell you. Pretend like you have at least heard of a couple.
In a year when almost all of the nominated films have bypassed theaters because of the pandemic, the Globes — the biggest-tent awards show there is, given its dual focus on film and television — may feel rather small. Nominees have struggled to get noticed. For many people, including some in Hollywood, it is hard to care about little golden thingamabobs at a time when the coronavirus is still killing roughly 2,000 Americans on most days.
“The stakes have never been lower,” Tina Fey, returning to host the ceremony with Amy Poehler, has been saying in deadpan Globe ads.
Who said nobody in Hollywood is honest? Here are some other things to consider before the ceremony begins on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern:
The traditional engine of the Golden Globes, a colossal red carpet, will not exist this time around. The honorees will all be at home. (Accepting trophies from mansions and luxury hotel rooms, tonally fine. Preening for hours for photographers while draped in diamonds and couture gowns, apparently not.) Fey will host the Globes from the Rainbow Room in New York, with Poehler stationed at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. A smattering of frontline and essential workers have been invited to attend in person, but the usual ostentatious supper has been scuppered.
Certainly not helping matters, the 78th Golden Globes arrive amid a renewed sense that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the scandal-prone group that bestows the awards, needs a dramatic overhaul. The 80-some voting members have long been painted as out of touch and faintly corrupt, including by their own hosts; Ricky Gervais referred to them as “vegetables” during last year’s live broadcast. But recent news reports have revealed brutal infighting and a questionable fixation on compensation.
The group has no Black members, The Los Angeles Times discovered.
But the awards machinery must grind on: Too much money is at stake. NBC pays $60 million a year for broadcast rights. Studios and streaming services will spend millions of dollars to publicize Globe wins, in part because balloting for the more prestigious Academy Awards begins on Friday. (Oscar nominees will be announced on March 15. The Oscars ceremony, delayed because of the pandemic, will take place on April 25.)
If nothing else, Nielsen ratings for this most unusual Globes telecast will help set expectations for the pandemic-retrofitted Academy Awards. The Globes attracted about 18.3 million total viewers last year, when “1917” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” collected the top movie prizes and Billy Porter caused an online traffic jam by wearing his version of the Bjork swan dress. In contrast, when the Globes became a humdrum news conference in 2008 because of a screenwriter’s strike, only 5.8 million people tuned in.
In other words, razzmatazz matters.
Netflix was humiliated at the Globes last year. The streaming giant sashayed into the ceremony with a leading 34 total nominations and left … with one film award (Laura Dern won best supporting actress for “Marriage Story”) and one television honor (Olivia Colman, lauded for “The Crown”). Instead, voters mostly stuck with old-guard choices.
Expect this go-round to be different, in part because most traditional movie studios have been crippled by the pandemic. Netflix has 42 nominations, and two of its films, “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” are vying for best drama, the most prestigious award. No streaming service has ever won in this category.
If “Chicago 7” wins, boosting its Oscar chances, Paramount Pictures will have some egg on its face: The 109-year-old studio offloaded the film to Netflix over the summer.
Among the remaining best drama nominees, the Hollywood establishment is best represented by “Nomadland,” which stars Frances McDormand as a van dweller. “Nomadland” comes from the art-film powerhouse formerly known as Fox Searchlight (now just Searchlight, reflecting a change in corporate ownership). “The Father” and “Promising Young Woman,” also from traditional film companies, round out the nominees.
In another first, the Globe for best comedy or musical will almost assuredly go to a streaming service. According to the prognosticators at Gold Derby, an awards predictions site, the comedy or musical race is a tossup between “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon) and “Hamilton” (Disney+). Also nominated are “Palm Springs” (Hulu), “The Prom” (Netflix) and Sia’s “Music,” a woefully misguided video-on-demand release.
The TV categories are something of an afterthought at the Globes, which draws its power from proximity to the Oscars. The foreign press association has tried to rectify the imbalance in recent years by rallying behind shows that have yet to pop. Globe voters, for instance, helped “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Transparent” gain wider attention. (On the other hand, the less said about their early support for “Mozart in the Jungle,” the better.)
“Ted Lasso,” a fish-out-of-water sports comedy on Apple TV+, is expected to benefit this year. The freshman series could win the Globe for best comedy, allowing the H.F.P.A. to one-up the Emmys and appear forward-thinking: Apple has yet to win a truly huge prize on Hollywood’s marquee awards circuit. Adding to the moment, Jason Sudeikis, who stars in “Ted Lasso,” may pick up a Globe for his performance.
As soon as nominations were announced on Feb. 3, the foreign press association was harshly criticized for overlooking films with mostly Black casts, including Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods.” The ceremony could bring fresh outrage — especially if strong contenders like Daniel Kaluuya, an acting nominee for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” or John Boyega, nominated on the television side for his supporting performance in “Small Axe,” leave without any hardware.
“One Night in Miami,” a fact-based drama about a meeting of four Black luminaries, received three nominations, including for Regina King’s directing and Leslie Odom Jr.’s portrayal of Sam Cooke. The film’s best hope, however, may be in the song category, where its contemplative “Speak Now,” sung and co-written by Odom, drew a nod.
Chadwick Boseman is the runaway favorite to win a posthumous Globe for his lead performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” But voters could veer toward Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), an eight-time nominee and never a winner, although he did receive a lifetime achievement Globe in 2006.
Carey Mulligan has the best actress edge for her raw-nerved revenge-seeker in “Promising Young Woman.” But honoring her would deny Viola Davis glory for her tour-de-force “Ma Rainey” performance. The H.F.P.A. could also go with McDormand, although she won the best actress Globe in 2018, and the press association usually likes to spread its love around.
Last year, controversy greeted the foreign press association’s nominees for directing. Once again, all five slots went to men. Only one woman has ever won the directing Globe: Barbra Streisand in 1984 for “Yentl.”
This year, King, the force behind “One Night in Miami,” and Emerald Fennell, who directed “Promising Young Woman,” both received nominations — along with Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), who is expected to win, at least according to Las Vegas bookies and the experts at Gold Derby. The other nominees are Fincher (“Mank”) and Aaron Sorkin, who directed “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Sorkin badly wants to be recognized as a director, but he will probably have to make do with another writing plaudit, this time for his “Chicago 7” screenplay. Fennell could pull off a surprise victory, however, with her twisty “Promising Young Woman” script.
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