When the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. agreed to uphold Universal’s placement of Jordan Peele’s horror satire “Get Out” in the comedy category at the Golden Globes, it registered as an affront for many. “Their [sic] is nothing funny about racism,” one of the film’s stars, Lil Rel Howard tweeted. “The real question is, what are you laughing at? … Are you disregarding what’s real about this project,” Peele posed to an Indiewire reporter, before later clarifying that he was aware of the decision-making process.
Media got a solid week or so out of the talking point. There was a sense of perceived demotion in some quarters — along with a distinct whiff of comedy being seen as “lesser than” — while in others, a broader definition of comedy was called for and defended. Still others saw it as a big studio gaming the system, as Fox was accused of doing with “The Martian” two years ago, though the HFPA has final say on these matters.
The debate is sure to flame up anew as Peele’s film secured a best picture, comedy or musical, Globe nomination Monday morning. The film’s star, Daniel Kaluuya, also received a nomination in the comedy actor category. Though Peele himself was left off in both the director and screenplay fields; to date, “Get Out” has received more screenplay honors from critics groups than any other film.
Whether “Get Out” can walk away with the gold is another matter. The other nominees are formidable. James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” is said to be a favorite among HFPA members. “The Greatest Showman” is a rousing musical in line with what the group’s traditionalists love to see in the category. “I, Tonya” is another hip option for younger members. And “Lady Bird” is the respectable critics darling (laureled already this season by the New York Film Critics Circle).
The division over the the film’s placement could also cause residual harm; voters who believed it should have competed as a drama would presumably be unlikely to choose it now. It would risk another awkward moment akin to when Ridley Scott called out the “Martian” situation as he accepted the very honor.
Come what may, “Get Out” will continue to defy convention well after the neat little boxes of awards season are cleared out.
“It felt like the comedy education I got the last decade or so worked perfectly in this film,” Peele told Variety‘s “Playback” podcast in February. “I feel both horror and laughter are ways we face our demons, ways we deal with our fears of death. It’s about tension, tension, tension, then release, with a certain pinpoint precision. In a way that’s a metaphor for life and death. We spend our whole lives fearing the ultimate absurdity, which is that this is temporary.”
The 75th annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.