The Golden Globes are on Sunday night, but no one will be able to see it because NBC canceled its broadcast of the ceremony following an avalanche of controversy for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. After much scrutiny, the group announced multiple plans for changes and diversity reforms in its organization. One of the changes proposed was to allow non-English language and animated films to compete in its top categories. However, that change wasn’t put into practice to produce this year’s crop of nominees.
When members of the HFPA fill out their ballots to vote for nominees, they are presented with a voting crib sheet for respective categories. Variety has learned exclusively that at the time of the group’s voting for this year’s nominees in December, no feature films that are spoken primarily outside of the English language, nor any animated films, were listed in the best drama picture or best comedy or musical picture categories. This directly conflicts with the HFPA’s June announcement that those films would be eligible to compete in the top categories moving forward.
The HFPA’s previous rules stipulated that, unlike the Oscars, the contenders in the Golden Globes’ best drama or comedy/musical categories must be composed of at least 50% English dialogue. Unfortunately, this prevented films like “The Farewell” and “Parasite” from competing for best picture, the latter of which wound up winning the top prize at the Academy Awards.
This is likely a contributing factor that explains why a critically acclaimed Japanese film like “Drive My Car” from Ryûsuke Hamaguchi was awarded the top prize by Los Angeles, New York and the National Society of Film Critics, yet wasn’t nominated in best drama. It was only recognized in the foreign language category. Winning the top award from those three critics groups is quite a feat, as David Fincher’s “The Social Network” (2010) was the last film to achieve it.
The HFPA received massive blowback from critics and the entertainment industry after the rules forced Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” to only compete in the foreign language category last year, even though the film was an American production. Directors, writers and actors condemned the policy, with criticisms arising from figures like Lulu Wang and Daniel Dae Kim. Nevertheless, the A24 feature was nominated at the Oscars for best picture and won an acting award in supporting actress for Yuh-Jung Youn.
Before the creation of its animation category back in 2006, the HFPA had no issues recognizing animated features in a significant way. Films like “The Lion King” (1994) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) walked away with the best comedy or musical prize in their respective years. The latter became the first animated movie nominated for best picture at the Oscars. However, despite films capturing the zeitgeist like Walt Disney’s “Encanto,” it was not an option in either of the top categories, only finding recognition in best animated picture, alongside “Flee, “Luca,” “My Sunny Maad” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” A silver lining: Neon’s “Flee,” an animated documentary spoken in Danish, was recognized when docs could never be included in any Golden Globes categories in previous years.
Variety reached out to the HFPA. A representative shared that members were aware of the rule changes and stated that animated and foreign language films could be voted on in all eligible categories.
“The HFPA’s entry database clearly shows non-English language and animated films were submitted as eligible for both categories and that members were free to vote that way,” a representative for the HFPA shared. “The reminders list is not part of the official ballot. It is to remind people. All members are aware that films can be eligible in both categories.
This revelation calls into question the HFPA’s sincerity regarding its planned changes. Furthermore, it questions whether pressing forward with a show this year was the best solution to its numerous internal crises.
Over the past several months, the HFPA implemented some changes to its bylaws and structure to address its controversial practices and lack of transparency and inclusivity. In October, the group added 21 new members to the organization, six of which are Black. However, newly elected HFPA president Helene Hoehne spoke with Variety in December, sharing frustration that the group was not being given credit for its steps to reform itself.
The primary question: do the Globes matter for this awards season? The answer confusingly seems to be: it doesn’t matter if they end up mattering.
The Golden Globes are one piece in the ecosystem that is the Oscar season. It’s a checkbox for talent to make as they vie for the attention of the Academy. Tonight will not include a red carpet, celebrities, nor any winners likely acknowledging their honor. Despite that, the group will continue to push forward and will likely be on television again in 2023 (if they can manage not to anger anyone else). Has the HFPA made strides towards change? Yes. Does it have a problem with messaging and communication, exasperated by a sense of entitlement to own this sector of Hollywood? Absolutely. Can its leadership do enough to bring respect to the organization? I believe so, but with thoughtful changes that feel sincere. That’s what matters most.
In an additional statement, the HFPA added: “In 2021, HFPA updated its awards rules to make animated and non-English language motion pictures released in the Los Angeles area also eligible for the Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Musical of Comedy awards.
HFPA implemented those reforms to include all eligible motion pictures in multiple categories. The HFPA compiles an informational “reminders list” with motion pictures listed in one category, and all members were advised in detail of the changes in eligibility this year so they could vote for eligible animated or non-English language motion pictures in those categories and in the Drama or Musical or Comedy categories.
HFPA members are provided with a blank ballot allowing them to vote for any eligible motion picture in any category in which they are eligible, and all members are given access to an online ballot with drop-down menus that list eligible motion pictures in each award category in which they are eligible. Considerable time was spent verifying the eligibility of animated and non-English language motion pictures for the Best Drama and Best Musical or Comedy categories, making certain they could be voted for in those categories.
The two films cited in the Variety article were clearly eligible in the corresponding Best Picture category – “Drive My Car” was eligible and included in the online ballot menu for Best Motion Picture – Drama and “Encanto” was eligible and included in the online ballot menu for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
Any suggestion that HFPA has failed to implement its updated awards rules in this area is wrong and misleading.”
Despite that, we’ll be monitoring their social media channels to see who they’re naming as winners. Quick winner predictions are down below.
Motion Picture (Drama): “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Alternate: “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical): “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Alternate: “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Lead Actor (Drama): Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros.)
Alternate: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Lead Actor (Comedy or Musical): Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” (Netflix)
Alternate: Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Lead Actress (Drama): Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” (Neon/Topic Studios)
Alternate: Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Lead Actress (Comedy or Musical): Rachel Zegler, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Alternate: Alana Haim, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Supporting Actor (Motion Picture): Jamie Dornan, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
Alternate: Ben Affleck, “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Studios)
Supporting Actress (Motion Picture): Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Alternate: Caitríona Balfe, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
Director (Motion Picture): Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Alternate: Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
Screenplay (Motion Picture): “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Alternate: “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios) – Aaron Sorkin
Original Score: “Dune” (Warner Bros.) – Hans Zimmer
Alternate: “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Germaine Franco
Original Song: “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect’ (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Carole King, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Hartman
Alternate: “Be Alive” from “King Richard” (Warner Bros) – Dixson, Beyoncé
Motion Picture (Animated Feature): “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Alternate: “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Motion Picture (Foreign Language): “A Hero” (Iran)
Alternate: “Drive My Car” (Japan)
TV Series (Drama): “Squid Game” (Netflix)
Alternate: “Succession” (HBO)
TV Series (Comedy or Musical): “Reservation Dogs” (FX)
Alternate: “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
TV Series (Limited): “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
Alternate: “Maid” (Netflix)
TV Actor (Drama): Jeremy Strong, “Succession” (HBO)
Alternate: Omar Sy, “Lupin” (Netflix)
TV Actor (Comedy or Musical): Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
Alternate: Nicholas Hoult, “The Great” (Hulu)
TV Actor (Limited): Tahar Rahim, “The Serpent” (Apple TV Plus)
Alternate: Oscar Isaac, “Scenes from a Marriage” (HBO)
TV Actress (Drama): MJ Rodriguez, “Pose” (FX)
Alternate: Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)
TV Actress (Comedy or Musical): Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO)
Alternate: Issa Rae, “Insecure” (HBO)
TV Actress (Limited): Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
Alternate: Margaret Qualley, “Maid” (Netflix)
Supporting Actor (Television): Kieran Culkin, “Succession” (HBO)
Alternate: Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
Supporting Actress (Television): Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus” (HBO)
Alternate: Sarah Snook, “Succession” (HBO)
Correction: An earlier version of the story referred to the HFPA document as a ballot. The document is a voting crib sheet. The HFPA also released an additional statement.