The Golden Globes were held on Sunday, and we learned so much as we continue on into the awards season — but the lessons may not be what we had expected in this extended pandemic year. Here are some of the things we learned from the first big awards show of 2021:
The elephant in the awards room regarding diversity
If you look over the past week of events for the HFPA, it’s been undoubtedly one of the most challenging as an organization. From the LA Times story regarding the complete lack of Black members on Sunday, Feb. 21, to Variety’s reporting that that had been the case since at least 2002, the HFPA was facing an awards show that would have been heavily scrutinized for an all-white selection of winners. The accounting firm Ernst & Young, which tabulates the organization’s votes for the nominees, was due to receive the ballots on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Did all the backlash regarding their lack of diversity influence the 87-person membership to vote for a more “colorful” crop of winners? When it comes to the Academy, it’s very hard to prove that scrutiny influences enough of the near 10,000 person membership to vote one way versus another in order to avoid more backlash. And while we can’t prove these international journalists would skew their votes that way, it’s much easier to build an alliance among a small group to ensure one outcome happens. During a Variety interview with Meher Tatna, former president of the HFPA and board chair, said, “It’s a secret ballot. We don’t sit around in a room and discuss our nominations as other awards groups do. Some years we hit it out of the park. Every year we get criticism. If it’s not women directors, it’s Black films, but this year, it’s been a lot.”
During the show, HFPA President Ali Sar, Vice President Helen Hoehne and Tatna addressed the issue, saying in part, “we recognize we have our own work to do. Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital.”
Chadwick Boseman is on his way to a historic win, and we’ll be crying at every award show watching it
Hands down, the most emotional moment of the Golden Globes was when Boseman was named best actor (drama) for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and his widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, accepted the award on his behalf. In tears, she spoke about him, wounds still fresh and exuding a pain that we couldn’t wish on our worst enemy.
This coronation of the actor would likely have been happening if he was still with us. Still, as we look ahead to the Critics Choice, SAG, BAFTA and then the Oscars, we know there will be a few moments of silence toward the end of the night when the producers cut to his wife. She shares those brief moments at his legacy and the honor that we all had watching him all these years.
Having multiple hosts works and the Oscars should adopt it
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are consummate professionals. With both women steering the ship from the New York’s Rainbow Room and the Beverly Hilton, there wasn’t a moment where they felt disconnected from one another. While there are criticisms of the show’s pacing and how the producers chose to fill the time, Fey and Poehler’s opening monologue set the tone and made it feel like a normal awards show in a very abnormal year. As the Oscars move forward with a live broadcast from multiple locations, including the Dolby Theatre, when AMPAS chooses to announce its plans, we’ve seen that a talented comedic duo can work very well.
In the hands of producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh, we’ll hopefully see something very clever.
Late-breaking movies and performances can still shine
Among the winners from Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony, Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”), Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) and Rosamund Pike (“I Care a Lot”) were all from films that released in February, just under the wire of the extended eligibility period. In all four cases, they were surprises for pundits and followers of the awards race, beating out some favored competitors like Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), Olivia Colman (“The Father”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”) and Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”).
This year, with parties and events are removed from the equation for winning an Academy Award, could the very last thing that voters watch have the most impact on the awards season? Technically, “Nomadland,” which premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, only opened in a very few markets and drive-ins. It was in January that Searchlight Pictures announced its big debut on Hulu. Could that have contributed to its win over “The Trial of the Chicago 7”? Perhaps.
Zoom is still a problem
The country is all Zoomed out. Awards shows in these virtual, hybrid formats do not build excitement for the audiences, no matter which film or actor is nominated. The Emmys were first out of the gate last summer, providing lessons and tips to other shows while doing its best to make it feel as “together” as possible in the height of the pandemic.
A small show like the Gothams didn’t have the capital to bring razzle-dazzle when they aired online in January, showcasing all the glitches and long pauses that have become tiresome for viewers. Take a look at Nicole Beharie’s worthy win for “Miss Juneteenth” for best actress for reference.
Looking forward to Critics Choice, SAG, BAFTA, and ultimately the Oscars, the problem of being able to translate a genuine moment of happiness for a winner, including any shockers that the awards provide – like Day and Jodie Foster winning for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and “The Mauritanian” – has not been solved.
They’re at the mercy of spotty internet connections (like Mark Ruffalo for “I Know This Much Is True”), strange background noises (like Jason Sudeikis having a hissing noise after winning for “Ted Lasso”) or having a losing battle with the mute button (like Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah”). This has only heightened the need for someone to curate a method that can be easily executed and set up by celebrities, especially the technically challenged.