Just days before the 78th annual Golden Globes earlier this year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA) — the organization behind those awards — came under public scrutiny for its lack of diversity and inclusion among its membership, as well as the ethics around the lavish trips and events members would accept as part of visiting sets and attending press conferences.
Three months later, the HFPA introduced a plan to increase the number of people of color within its organization, but the 2022 telecast of the awards ceremony was shelved (with the Critics Choice Awards moving its ceremony to the usual Globes date) and more than 100 public relations firms threatened to cut off access to their clients. Since then, the organization has followed through on its promise of expanding its membership and including more diverse journalists, and the 79th annual Golden Globes are moving forward with a “no submissions necessary” year. Nominations will be announced Dec. 13, and some still-to-be-announced event for winners is set for Jan. 9. After a year of so much turmoil, there are mixed feelings about these moves across the industry.
“A Golden Globe in the past could catapult you and your show into either stardom or another awards competition. I will never fully understand how the talent and the reps are willing to put a chokehold on an organization that they have courted for coming up on eight decades. I also think that this is a business — and I say this in a positive way — that has had a history of forgiving and moving on,” says Richard Licata, founder and CEO of awards agency Licata & Co.
But Licata acknowledges that there may be “some talent [who] have been talked into, ‘You don’t want the award this year — this is not the year because its octane is really low.’”
The HFPA has initiated substantive changes, but we are still within the same calendar year as the initial allegations and new promises, so it is hard to gauge the impact of those changes. A few awards season insiders who spoke to Variety with the promise of anonymity expressed the desire to quietly see what happens this year before deciding how hard to campaign for these awards in the future. One in particular also raised questions about the lack of transparency involved in the HFPA selecting nominees without submissions.
“I have a hard time trusting, let alone convincing my clients, that, ‘Oh no, of course they know who you are and know about your show,’” the publicist says.
Sources close to both the organization and those who would formally submit in a regular year tell Variety that studios are still making their content very easily accessible to HFPA voters, though. And admittedly, having the studios run the submissions process created its own issues, often because the amount of money that supported submissions was not equal.
That’s in part why Licata personally thinks it’s a “good move” for the HFPA to nominate on their own, to further prove that they have taken the concerns about their group seriously.
“I would speculate that they have looked at a lot of other programming that normally, because of their travel schedules and conference schedules, would have impeded that process,” Licata says. “They’ve been home for 18 months. They have watched a boatload of television and are pretty up to date on all the shows that they should be watching.”
On the film side, he notes, “Europe doesn’t have a boycott on them, and they’ve been having press conferences and they’ve been seeing the movies with no problem. In addition, it is my understanding that for studios that are not doing screenings or inviting them to press conferences, the new governance [is] paying for their members to go to theaters or [for] on demand. So even though they had habits in the past, which you could say were a little laissez-faire — because they wanted everything put in front of them — I think they’ve boned up on everything that’s out there.”
Although the past 11 months since the last Golden Globes ceremony have been filled with change for the HFPA, one thing that has remained constant is the sheer volume of quality contenders for voters to consider.
This category is completely open, as none of the 2021 nominees are eligible for consecutive nominations. As much as Licata is confident that HFPA members are making concentrated efforts to watch a wide berth of content, even without being steered by studios and networks, the proof of that remains to be seen when nominations hit on Dec. 13. There is a strong chance that past nominees that are eligible make the cut again, not only because they are still strong contenders, but also because they are familiar to voters. The most likely candidates there are HBO’s powerhouse “Succession,” which won this category in 2020, and Apple TV Plus’s “The Morning Show,” which was also nominated that same year. FX’s “Pose” picked up a nom in 2019 and now that the show wrapped up its groundbreaking run earlier this year, there is hope it could see a final awards surge this winter, with the Globes being one of them. Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which won this category in 2018, could also make a triumphant return, as its fourth season roared back with renewed energy. However, the HFPA has always prided itself on championing new and slightly underrated series, as well. In this category in 2021 for example, it celebrated Netflix’s “Ratched” and was only one of two awards bodies to do so in such a big way. (The other was the GLAAD Media Awards.) Along those lines, some titles to watch this time include ABC’s “Queens,” Apple TV Plus’s “Foundation” and “Invasion,” Disney Plus’s “Loki” and Netflix’s “Squid Game.”
Musical or Comedy Series
Along the lines of the HFPA championing fresh faces and fresh voices come such comedy series as Netflix’s “Emily in Paris,” which was the talk of awards season when it scored a nomination in this category in 2021, as well as Hulu’s “The Great” and Apple TV Plus’s “Ted Lasso,” which were also nominated in 2021 and could be again this time. The past few years have seen the org lean further into freshmen series in this race, though, which is why it should not be assumed all of these will make the ballot again. Instead, voters have the opportunity to continue the trend of being one of the first to celebrate something new for the calendar year’s awards seasons. The possibilities seem almost overwhelmingly endless from Netflix’s “The Chair” to CBS’s adaptation of “Ghosts,” Amazon Prime Video’s “Harlem,” Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” FX on Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs,” HBO Max’s “Hacks” and Peacock’s “Girls5eva.” Longer-running series that still feel fresh (especially because they would be first-time nominees) and will make voters’ choices even harder include HBO Max’s “The Other Two” and the final seasons of “Dickinson” on Apple TV Plus and “Insecure” on HBO. It’s almost a shame the HFPA did not extend its calendar again this season because that is a lot of quality content to catch up on before ballots are due at noon PT Dec. 10. Let’s hope they use their time wisely.
Limited Series or Television Movie
There is such a high volume of quality limited series that in most years we would declare television movies completely shut out of this race. The one question mark that still lingers, though, is Roku’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas.” It may look odd on paper to see a holiday movie being a top contender, let alone the only TV movie contender mentioned, but the HFPA nominated “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” star Jane Levy in the lead musical or comedy series actress category in 2021, and members may want to celebrate the wrap-up to that sadly short-lived series in a bigger way. Admittedly, that may still be a long shot, as Emmy-nominated limited series “Mare of Easttown” (HBO), “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon) and “WandaVision” (Disney Plus) are still in contention, as is National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha,” which scored an Emmy nom for leading lady Cynthia Erivo but not a series one. Series that launched in the last six months of Globes eligibility include some equally heavy hitters, including Hulu’s Michael Keaton-starrer “Dopesick,” HBO’s “The White Lotus” from Mike White, HBO’s Oscar Isaac-Jessica Chastain two-hander “Scenes From a Marriage,” Netflix’s adaptation of “Maid” and Apple TV Plus’s “The Shrink Next Door,” starring HFPA favorites Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, and Kathryn Hahn, who seems like she should be a HFPA fave but has somehow been snubbed thus far.
Best Picture — Comedy or Musical
The Golden Globes’ comedy-musical category often throws out the biggest head-scratchers (2021’s “Music” plus a whole lotta dramas with comedic elements that are too numerous to list here) but in defense of the category, it can shine a light on movies that don’t fit in as an “Oscar movie” or can kick-start an awards run for an off-beat film (“The Artist,” “Borat”) or actually reward straight-up comedy hits (winners “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Hangover,” nominees “Bridesmaids,” “Spy,” “Trainwreck”) or musical (winner “La La Land,” “Les Miserables”).
In 2021, the pandemic still kept some theaters shut, and many cut back on programming mostly because there was a lack of features willing to test the theatrical waters. Yet, the comedy-musical category is spoiled for choice this year, with Steven Spielberg’s anticipated “West Side Story,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick … Boom!” and Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Miranda’s “In the Heights,” Leos Carax’s “Annette,” with a score by Sparks and Cannes pedigree, feel-good “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” not to mention Joe Wright’s “Cyrano” and even the derided “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Comedies had a good 2021, and something such as “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” might have made a run at a Globes, while “Coming 2 America” could grab some attention given that it’s a glossy studio sequel packed with stars and Eddie Murphy. “Cruella,” while not a comedy, is a film with comedic elements that bravely hit theaters early this year.
And then there are the dramas with comedy elements that land the lion’s share of nods in this category. “CODA” checks all the boxes, with drama, laughs and gorgeous singing, for instance. Wes Anderson has won this category previously, with “Grand Budapest Hotel,” and should be a lock again for a nom for “The French Dispatch.” But given the Globes’ broad interpretation of “comedy,” will they place “The House of Gucci” in comedy or drama? Ridley Scott’s film certainly plays with high camp. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” goes for camp as well. Tom Hanks can be funny, so maybe “Finch” lands a nomination. Ditto Ryan Reynolds, whose “Deadpool” earned a nom and may see “Free Guy” back in contention.
Other contenders include “King Richard,” which is being sold as a feel-good, heartwarming night at the movies, and looks the type of film the Globes voters like to place in the comedy/musical category.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” could be the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” of 2022.
Lead Actress — Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
The Globes can be prescient in their nominations here. Take last year, when “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” breakout Maria Bakalova landed a nod but was bested by Rosamund Pike’s sociopath in black satire “I Care a Lot.” Also, the category produced the puzzling nom for Kate Hudson in “Music,” a film almost no one had seen and churned up controversy for its depiction of the autistic community.
However, “CODA’s” Emilia Jones is a fresh face for voters to support, as is Rachel Zegler, Maria in Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” “In the Height’s” Leslie Grace could also land a nom here.
Lady Gaga seems to have assured another Oscar nom with her delicious turn in “House of Gucci,” but her Globes categorization depends on if the films lands in drama or comedy/musical. In 2019, she won the Golden Globes lead actress trophy in drama for “A Star Is Born,” a film that competed in the drama category but maybe should have been a musical/comedy? Since music was a driving force for the story and the film yielded a hit single? (“Star” was beaten by “Bohemian Rhapsody,” another film in which music played a pivotal role.) Jessica Chastain’s lauded perf as Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” could also land here.
Lead Actor — Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Last year, Sacha Baron Cohen grabbed the Globe in this category, beating out a solid field of Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Hamilton,” James Corden for “The Prom,” Dev Patel for “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and Andy Samberg in “Palm Springs.” All solid choices in actual musicals and comedies (yes, Dickens is funny).
“In the Heights’” Anthony Ramos captured hearts and acclaim so has a shot here, while Adam Driver could double his chances with both “House of Gucci” and “Annette.” Despite the “Dear Evan Hansen” blowback, Ben Platt did originate the role on Broadway and may sneak in here.
Andrew Garfield shows another side of his talent in “Tick, Tick … Boom!” and seems assured a nom. The Globes also likes to tap newcomers so Max Harwood, who plays a gay teen longing to be a star drag queen in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” is a perfect fit for this category.
Will Smith seems to be marching toward an actor Oscar but will he be drama or comedy/musical for the Globes? Either way, he’s assured a spot.
It’s a strange year for the Globes and the HFPA can build up some goodwill in Hollywood before it will presumably be back on the air in 2023, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how this will play out. Stay tuned.