×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Golden Globes Nominations: At Least It Was a Good Year for Strong Female Roles

Looking across the Golden Globe film and TV nominations, it’s a banner year for movies driven by some of the most unlikely female characters to get the big-screen treatment.

In “The Shape of Water,” Sallie Hawkins plays a mute cleaning woman in 1962 Baltimore who has an supernatural encounter. In “The Post,” Meryl Streep plays a woman in her mid-50s who is thrust by circumstance into a leadership role. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney deliver tour de force performances in “I, Tonya,” a movie that on paper sounds like B-grade cable material. And the great Laurie Metcalf is the hero of “Lady Bird” and its touching look at mother-daughter and familial dynamics, for which Saorise Ronan received a best actress, comedy nom.

None of these are projects tailored to the conventional notions of the audiences who drive movie-going or indie film success. The shutout of female directors from the Globes race is particularly striking this year given the volume of femme-focused projects. The options — from “Wonder Woman’s” Patty Jenkins to “Lady Bird’s” Greta Gerwig to “Mudbound’s” Dee Rees — were numerous.

Female auteurs, showrunners, and producers, meanwhile, are all over the Globes television noms. Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters solidified Frankie Shaw’s status as a major comer to watch, landing a comedy series nom and lead comedy actress bid for “SMILF,” the Showtime series that she created, directs and stars in. Two of Shaw’s fellow contenders in the comedy actress race — Pamela Adlon (FX’s “Better Things”) and Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure”) — are also creator/stars of their own vehicles.

“It certainly does give rise to the idea that this is the year of the woman in popular media,” Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian, told Variety. From “Lady Bird” to “I, Tonya” to “The Post,” the portrayals of women tackling existential crises largely on their own steam, with grace and grit, made for a strong crop that bucked convention.

“‘The Post’ is essentially a coming of age story — but a coming of age story for a mature woman, which is most unusual,” Maltin said. At the other end of the scale, “Lady Bird” adds up to “a modest movie that is exceptionally well done”  particularly for a directorial debut, Maltin said. “Greta Gerwig has obviously had her eyes and ears wide open as she’s been making films. To create a film that is so empathetic and believable, relatable and poignant is no small achievement.”

The comedy series race features two female showrunners — Amy Sherman-Palladino at the helm of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with Dan Palladino — and Shaw of “SMILF.” Among drama series, only “This Is Us” has a female showrunner, Elizabeth Berger who steers the NBC hit with Isaac Aptaker. Drama series nominees “The Crown” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” revolve squarely around themes of women, power, privilege, and sexism.

The top TV nominee in the Globes race this year is HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” the extraordinary assemblage of talent pulled together by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman out of frustration at the lack of meaty film roles.

The wealth of work for seasoned stars in TV is on display with the six noms for “Big Little Lies” as well as the four bestowed on FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan.” “Feud’s” Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange will once again face off against Witherspoon and Kidman for golden hardware in the lead limited series actress field. Jessica Biel is also a contender in this starry crowd for her career re-defining role as a murderer in USA Network’s “The Sinner.”

And if all the great female roles in the first season of “Big Little Lies” weren’t heartening enough, season two will be directed by Andrea Arnold, for an even stronger all-women team.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmys: Big 4 Broadcasters Post Lowest Combined Wins Ever

    The Big 4 broadcast networks put a cap on their worst year in Emmy history on Sunday night. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC brought home just 16 Emmy Awards — the lowest combined total in history for the four major broadcast networks. The previous low was 19 combined wins in 2016. Last year, the networks [...]

  • Karamo BrownLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of

    Karamo Brown Addresses Backlash Against Sean Spicer Comments

    Karamo Brown has doubled down on comments he made about his fellow “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sean Spicer, in which he promoted the idea of meeting political adversaries “in the middle.” The amicable “Queer Eye” host received criticism when he said he was “most excited to meet” Spicer ahead of the show’s 28th season, [...]

  • Billy Porter Emmy Win 2019 Pose

    Billy Porter Dispels Rumors of RuPaul Rift Backstage at Emmys

    Billy Porter choked up backstage on Sunday at the Emmy Awards as he spoke about the larger cultural significance of his lead drama actor Emmy win for the FX drama “Pose.” Porter leads the large ensemble on the series set in 1980s New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis and the birth [...]

  • Michelle-Williams-Rupaul-Split

    Emmy Winners Urge Political Activism During Acceptance Speeches

    As the country inches closer to the 2020 election, Emmy winners on Sunday night used their time in the spotlight to advocate for political causes. Celebrities such as Patricia Arquette, Michelle Williams, and RuPaul Charles all urged activism from viewers while accepting their awards. While accepting her Emmy for her supporting role in Hulu’s “The [...]

  • Julia-Garner-Billy-Porter-Phoebe-Waller-Bridge

    An Emmy Night Full of Surprises Matches TV's Energy in the Streaming Era (Column)

    The 2019 Emmy telecast effectively began with a speech by a star from the recent past: Bryan Cranston, who recalled watching the moon landing on television, noting that the most famous televised event in history made him feel he could “go anywhere — even Albuquerque.” The reference to the setting of “Breaking Bad,” the past [...]

  • Phoebe Waller Bridge Emmys

    TV Review: The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

    The 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards had some truly surprising moments, twists that not even the most experienced prognosticators saw coming, moving tributes and calls to action. It’s just too bad that not a single one of them came courtesy of Fox’s production.  The Emmys are, all things considered, a dependably tame awards ceremony. They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content