2021 Golden Globes: Winners, Losers, and Zoom

This past Sunday, the Golden Globe winners were announced and presented in a hybrid virtual and in-person format — presenters and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (on separate coasts) were in person, while winners and nominees were all virtual (with the exception of Cecil B. DeMille winner Jane Fonda). All in all, despite some minor technical issues (where were to be expected), I thought the ceremony went fairly well. Sure, Fey, Poehler, and others hounded on the HFPA [the Hollywood Foreign Press Association] for not having a single black member. The HFPA vowed to make changes in their diversity, but I’ll believe it when I see it. There were some silly bits that didn’t always work; for example, why did we need Kenan Thompson and Maya Rudolph playing fake drunk winners? (They were funny, though). 

The HFPA spread the love [a bit] on the film side, with only two films (Nomadland and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm winning two awards each), whereas The Crown ruled on the TV side. I’d definitely seen more movies than TV shows/miniseries, aside from the terrific comedies Schitt’s Creek and Ted Lasso, as well as the impressively-done The Queen’s Gambit and the well-acted The Undoing.

There were plenty of awe-inspiring speeches, and those that seemed totally off the cuff. It was also interesting to see how some people had fancy, high-quality virtual set-ups and were dressed up as if on the red carpet (like Kate Hudson and Vanessa Kirby), whereas others were totally casual and lo-fi (like now-winners Chloe Zhao and Jodie Foster). Although I somewhat missed seeing celebrities get drunk and silly — the only major awards show where they’re allowed to do so — but I must admit that it was fun to see nominees with their families, friends, and even pets. I loved seeing Foster and her wife in their pajamas, and she accepted her Best Supporting Actress award while saying she loved her wife, and then kissed her. (How awesome is it that she now feels comfortable enough to do that?). 

The Golden Globes are notoriously difficult to predict, and the HFPA tends to reward performances and films that may never show up anywhere else in the awards season; for example, last year, Awkwafina and Taron Egerton on acting awards in the comedy/musical categories, but both were snubbed at the Oscars. Also, a few years ago, Aaron Taylor-Johnson won Best Supporting Actor at the Globes, but was then also snubbed by the Academy. So, the surprising wins for Rosamund Pike, Foster, and Andra Day may not affect the the Oscars all that much, but who’s to say? This extra-long awards season has been unpredictable from the get-go. Regardless, here are my thoughts on the [film] winners and losers:

Best Film Drama
Won: Nomadland
Should have won: Promising Young Woman
Analysis: I’m very disappointed that my favorite film of 2020 — the 2020-21 season, really — was completely shut out at the Globes; I’d thought that, because the HFPA nominated PYW for multiple awards, it’d win at least something, perhaps here or for Mulligan in Drama Actress. That said, Nomadland is a terrific film (my #3), and currently the front-runner this awards season; it has over a 50% winning percentage, and it’s a good sign for the film that it won its first major award in this category. It also helps that it’s now available on Hulu.

Best Film Drama Actress
Won: Andra Day — The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Should have won: Carey Mulligan — Promising Young Woman
Analysis: As happy as I am for Day, who gives a truly remarkable, transformative [debut] performance as Billie Holiday, I still would’ve given it to Mulligan or Frances McDormand, whose movies are both extraordinarily better. (Day is the perhaps the only good thing about her movie). Day is also only the second black woman to win in this category (after only Whoopi Goldberg for The Color Purple). This surprising win secures Day’s place in the top 5, and perhaps even closer to the top; however, I still think Mulligan has a better chance (although that could just be wishful thinking)

Best Film Drama Actor
Won: Chadwick Boseman — Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should have won: Riz Ahmed — Sound of Metal
Analysis: This acceptance speech, from Boseman’s widow, Simone, was easily the most powerful, emotional one of the night [see video above]. It’s hard not to be moved by Simone’s words, and seeing Boseman’s co-star Davis’ teary reaction only adds to this. It’s easy to say that Boseman has now secured himself a posthumous Oscar; yes, he’s excellent in the role, though I don’t believe him to be the most deserving in a very stacked category. Ahmed gave one of the best performances of the year, period, in a movie that is near-flawless. 

Best Film Comedy/Musical
Won: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Should have won: Palm Springs
Analysis: I didn’t dislike Borat — it’s way better than The Prom and I refuse to watch Music — but it seems unfair to place this semi-mockumentary in a category with the superb, delightful Palm Springs, which adds some uniqueness to the concept of a time loop. Its recent WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay gives me hope, but WGA nominations don’t always translate to Oscar nods (mainly because the WGA ends up disqualifying numerous films). 

Best Film Comedy/Musical Actress
Won: Rosamund Pike — I Care A Lot
Should have won: Maria Bakalova — Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Analysis: Yes, I did just mention that I didn’t love Borat, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think Bakalova wasn’t deserving. (Also, why would the HFPA honor Cohen and the film but not his co-star?). She’s the epitome of a revelation here, and her shocking loss to Pike (whose film I have yet to see, which is no excuse, because it’s on Netflix) makes it even likelier that she’ll lose out on an Oscar nomination. 

Best Film Comedy/Musical Actor
Won: Sacha Baron Cohen — Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Should have won: Andy Samberg — Palm Springs
Analysis: Cohen’s commitment to the role of Borat, and his willingness to put himself in danger — he actually wore a bulletproof vest to MAGA-esque rallies — is not only crazy and admirable, but, like I said before, Palm Springs is a much better movie. And, Samberg has never been more charming; he actually gives a relatively dialed-down performance that is matched by the [unfairly snubbed] Cristin Milioti. 

Best Film Supporting Actress
Won: Jodie Foster — The Mauritanian
Should have won: Glenn Close — Hillbilly Elegy
Analysis: Foster’s win is yet another shock, as she had shown up very limitedly in precursors. Also, The Mauritanian was released very late in the season, although this seems to have worked in her favor. She’s solid in a role that is apparently her first time portraying a real-life person, but she pales in comparison to the other nominees. My top pick would’ve been Yuh-Jung Youn of Minari, but she was left out here. In that case, I would’ve given the Globe to Close, who has been nominated so many times that it seemed like this might finally [again] be her time. Despite the fact that Hillbilly Elegy is atrocious, Close’s performance is solid. Foster’s win here may just put her into the Oscar lineup, possibly bumping out Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman. Or, it could be an Aaron Taylor-Johnson-like snub. 

Best Film Supporting Actor
Won/Should have won: Daniel Kaluuya — Judas and the Black Messiah
Analysis: Finally, a deserving winner! (At least, among the nominees; Paul Raci of Sound of Metal is still my favorite). Kaluuya is truly phenomal and powerful as Fred Hampton, even though he’s really more of a co-lead. His was the first award given, and it got off to a poor start with him being on mute and presenter Laura Dern awkwardly waiting for the technical issues to be resolved. Thankfully, we were able to hear Kaluuya’s speech, which was memorable enough to make a case for him to win again. I wasn’t sure if he could beat Cohen (in The Trial of the Chicago 7) or Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami, but he’s on a really good path now. 

Best Film Director
Won/Should have won: Chloe Zhao — Nomadland
Analysis: Even though Nomadland‘s currently my #3 of 2020, it’s the best-directed film of the year. Chloe Zhao’s vision is wholly original, and her wins thus far in this category are up to about 75%. She is now only the second woman — behind only Barbra Streisand for Yentl (who tweeted her support for Zhao) — to achieve this honor, and the first Asian woman to do so. I’m looking forward to her breaking boundaries again at the Oscars, which may have the same lineup as the Globes (with 3 [!] women).

Best Film Screenplay
Won: Aaron Sorkin — The Trial of the Chicago 7
Should have won: Emerald Fennell — Promising Young Woman
Analysis: I’m a huge fan of Sorkin’s, having enjoyed his work in The West Wing, The Social Network, and others, and as much as I enjoyed his latest script, I still think Fennell’s is the most original and innovative. (Although, to be fair, this is a general screenplay category). Fennell is still ahead of Sorkin in wins, percentage-wise, but considering how much the Academy likes Sorkin, he will probably win. 

Best Animated Feature
Won/Should have won: Soul
Analysis: As much as I enjoyed Wolfwalkers, which has picked up some wins from critics groups, Soul is still my favorite animated film of the year. Now, there should be no doubts that it will continue to sweep awards season; Wolfwalkers is the only one capable of unseating it, but with about half as many wins as Pixar’s latest, that seems unlikely. 

Best Foreign Language Film
Won: Minari
Should have won: Another Round
Analysis: First of all, let me say that I am happy that Minari — my #2 of 2020 — is winning things, and that we got to see writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s lovely acceptance speech, accompanied by his adorable daughter. That said, it’s unfair to categorize the film as a foreign language movie, just because much of the script is in Korean. It is a deeply American film, which is why a true foreign film, like Another Round (the only other one I’ve seen), should have won. Thankfully, the Academy’s recent name switch to the International Feature Film category should ensure that Minari isn’t miscategorized here. 

Best Score
Won/Should have won: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, & Jon Batiste — Soul
Analysis: There are so many great scores here, even though not all the movies themselves are as good. Soul is the exception here, and the two-part score is excellent and unparalleled. I would also love to see The Late Show with Stephen Colbert‘s Batiste win, as he’s superbly talented and underappreciated. Also, Soul wouldn’t be the first animated film to win in this category in addition to Animated Feature, as Up did this (it was also nominated for Best Picture, which seems a reach for Soul). 

Best Song
Won: “Io Si (Seen)” — The Life Ahead
Should have won: “Speak Now” — One Night in Miami
Analysis: Up until recently, I’d thought that the Leslie Odom, Jr.-performed “Speak Now” had this in the bag, as it’s probably the best song in the bunch (which isn’t saying much). However, Diane Warren has been nominated for so many Oscars but has yet to win, so this may end up being her year. It’s not her best song, but also not her worst. The two songs seem neck-and-neck at this point, and the race is too close and early to call.