Every year, we say we’re not going to watch the Golden Globes. “They’re pay-for-play opportunists who trade awards for access,” we plea in the mirror. “Remember Pia Zadora?” And yet, just like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III, they pull us back in. Maybe it’s the pandemic insisting upon things to look forward to amidst the threat of impending doom. Or, more likely, we just love TV and the people who make it too much to not want to root for them to get recognition — no matter how dubious the award.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an enigmatic collective of 93 non-American journalists who nonetheless live in LA, give out their trophies every year, and the picks are virtually impossible to guess. Sometimes, it’s recognition of the best work in film and TV that year. Other times, it’s whatever buzz-worthy show or movie or performer catches their ear (or which studio influences them with lavish trips to Paris — we’re looking at you Netflix). And yet, despite our hemming and hawing about them, we still impart upon them enough cultural influence that the Globes themselves become worthy of discussion.
It’s a weird field this year: a heady mix of deserving entries and strange categorizations, seasoned veterans and hot newcomers, and an overwhelming sense of whiteness pervading the vast majority of 2021’s nominee pool. So, in light of that, we thought it might be interesting to not just try to predict who will win the Golden Globe for almost all of the categories this Sunday, but who shouldn’t even be in the field in the first place. Naturally, we share who we’d like to see in their stead.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Who’s Gonna Win? My money’s on The Trial of the Chicago 7, the talkiest and most accessible of these films — Aaron Sorkin’s self-congratulatory, verbose approach, in addition to his pedigree, makes this one far more palatable to HPFA voters than the others.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? Unfortunately, the very same film that’ll win is the one that shouldn’t be here; we were mixed-to-positive in our review, but in the final estimation it’s just too shaggy and messy (and plays too Sorkin-smugly) to hold up to audiences outside the glad-handy limousine liberal crowd. In that light, it makes perfect sense why it’d have such a strong showing at the Golden Globes.
Who’s Missing? Netflix had much stronger awards candidates than Chicago 7 and maybe even Mank in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods. But befitting the Globes’ allergy to diversity, it probably tracks that they wouldn’t put those in there. Plus, Minari deserves to be in this category rather than the other one, but we’ll get to that one soon enough.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States. vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Who’s Gonna Win? Mulligan’s got some real awards heat as an elusive, complicated femme fatale in Promising Young Woman; it’s the kind of turn that holds your attention, and that tends to earn you some crowns. One can cross their fingers for Frances or Viola Davis (both giving strong performances in challenging films), but this turn feels awards-calibrated.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? The whole field is solid, though we’d maybe kick off Davis on account of Ma Rainey herself feeling incidental to the film she’s in (the original August Wilson play focuses much more on the backing band working out their issues). But that’s a super minor complaint.
Who’s Missing? I’m really missing Han Ye-ri from Minari and Nicole Beharie from Miss Juneteenth in here.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian
Who’s Gonna Win? It’s an even-split between Boseman and Hopkins, most likely — do you celebrate a great final lead turn from a gone-too-soon actor, or celebrate a late-career masterclass like Hopkins puts on in The Father? Tough to say, but as a recognition of his swan song, it’ll probably go to Boseman.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? Of the field, it’s strangely Oldman who impresses the least (though admittedly, we haven’t seen The Mauritanian so we don’t have an inkling about Rahim’s performance). He’s had his flowers; I’d be happy to oust him for someone else.
Who’s Missing? I’m very sad that our predictions that Steven Yeun’s turn in Minari would lead to awards gold haven’t borne fruit yet; it deserves to, and he really should be on this list.
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Who’s Gonna Win? I’m gonna have to give it to Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a sequel that has enough flash-in-the-pan political relevance (Rudy’s pants, anyone?) to stick in the minds of HPFA voters.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? In any other world, I’d give this to the limp Ryan Murphy-produced musical adaptation The Prom — trust me, we’ll get to him soon enough. But bow howdy, Music has no place in this field, a completely offensive motion picture that doesn’t just flop as a mother-daughter indie drama, but perpetuates horrid stereotypes about autistic people (and how to treat them) that have no place near awards recognition. (HPFA voters probably just saw Sia in the name and checked the box without even thinking.)
Who’s Missing? I’d have loved to have seen Promising Young Woman in this category since it certainly has more of a wry sense of humor than half of these candidates. But Freaky, Love & Monsters, or even David Byrne’s American Utopia would have fit in really nicely in this field. Maybe even Miss Juneteenth, a film as joyous as it is overlooked.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Kate Hudson, Music
Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
Rosamund Pike, I Care A Lot
Anya Taylor-Joy, Emma.
Who’s Gonna Win? It’ll go to Bakalova for Borat, and rightly so — it’s been a good long time since we’ve seen a debut this audacious and mesmerizing. I’m not mad at this one.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? I’m tempted to give this one to Pfeiffer for French Exit, which isn’t nearly as charming as it thinks it is. But purely by virtue of the material, and her inability to elevate it, I’ll replace Hudson in Music in a heartbeat.
Who’s Missing? I’m rather partial to Kathryn Newton’s delightful double-turn in Freaky, and if we’re including Hamilton in the mix, I don’t see how Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton didn’t give one of the most heart-rending performances of the year in the final act of that show. Oh, and lest we forget Rachel McAdams, who really lifts up Eurovision Song Contest to its modest charms.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
James Corden, The Prom
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Dev Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield
Andy Samberg, Palm Springs
Who’s Gonna Win? Unless Lin leverages his existing cultural heat to win a Golden Globe for the role he’s been playing for a straight-up decade, I’ve got good odds on Andy Samberg for Palm Springs — a lovely, bittersweet lead turn in an unexpectedly solid comedy that’s just dramatic enough to lend him some street cred. (I feel like HFPA will focus on Cohen for Chicago 7.)
Who Shouldn’t Be There? What the hell is James Corden doing here, especially for his turn as a swishy gay stereotype transported from the ’90s in The Prom? Shoo, go away, and take your overly-earnest-theater-kid schtick with you.
Who’s Missing? Let Vince Vaughn have a later-career moment in the sun for Freaky, I beg of you. Or give it to either Keanu or Alex Winter (or both!) for Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Best Motion Picture – Animated
The Croods: A New Age
Over the Moon
Who’s Gonna Win? Pixar’s Soul looks to be the frontrunner here, and it’s admittedly a good one — a welcome return to Pixar’s honorable brief of “existentially-poignant movies with cute silly characters”. My heart of hearts, I’d give it to the stunning Wolfwalkers, but if we have to pick Pixar, you could do a lot worse than Soul.
Who Shouldn’t Be There? I haven’t seen the second Croods, and the first Croods is actually not too bad; that said, my instinct says that one is a bit more disposable than the two Pixar entries, or even Over the Moon (which benefits from a cute song and some long-overdue representation).
Who’s Missing? I’d have loved some love for the Spanish-German stop-motion drama The Wolf House, or you could even bring the kiddies in with the delightful Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.
Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
The Life Ahead
Two of Us
Who’s Gonna Win? Minari in a landslide, not just because it’s a great film but also due to their need to make up for its blatant miscategorization out of Best Feature Film (more on that later).
Who Shouldn’t Be There? Strangely enough, Minari — it’s a masterwork, but woefully misplaced here, a category typically intended to highlight films that exist outside of the English-speaking world. While it technically fits, its marginalization in this category feels like a slap in the face to a film that is maybe one of the most American stories to come out in the last several years.
Who’s Missing? Beanpole, Vitalina Varela, Bacurau — plenty of other great foreign language flicks could have filled Minari‘s spot, though the rest of the field is pretty solid.