The Extremely Chaotic 2021 Golden Globe Nominees: 17 Craziest Snubs and Surprises
In a wild year, the wildest awards group really upped its game. “Emily in Paris?” Sacré bleu! No “I May Destroy You?” Unforgivable! A look at the year’s most shocking nods.
After what has been the industry’s strangest, most volatile and unpredictable year, there was a lot of curiosity about just how chaotic the typically, how shall we say it, whimsical the Golden Globe Award nominations were going to be.
Well, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association came in hot Wednesday morning: Hella chaotic! The very first nomination read was a Best Series nod for Netflix’s couture comedy Emily in Paris, a TV show that made international news for being bad.
Of course, it is also a show that was very, very popular, with fans remarking that they were addicted despite not thinking it was all that good. When it comes to the Golden Globes, popularity—and star pedigree—is as much of a benchmark as quality when it comes to cherry-picking its often inexplicable slate of nominees.
That’s how to explain Kate Hudson and the film Music showing up in the Best Comedy/Musical categories, which, judging by social media reactions, was the first time many people, even entertainment journalists, became aware that this movie existed. Well, not only is it real, it is co-written and directed by Sia, and it is already controversial! The role of an autistic child was cast with dancer Maddie Ziegler, who is not autistic and has never appeared in a feature film, and Sia did not take to the criticisms kindly.
The randomness is part of the fun with the Golden Globes. The organization’s surprise championing of under-the-radar shows, or of genres that typically wouldn’t be rewarded by traditional awards groups is part of the appeal. And the barely veiled star fetish that routinely sees A-list celebrities popping up on nominee lists for small films and mediocre performances is, if nothing else, worth being amused by. (It would have been more shocking for James Corden to not be nominated for The Prom, for example.)
And so from the good (an admirably diverse year!) to the bad (how could they shut out I May Destroy You?) to the downright awkward (Spike Lee’s children are this year’s Golden Globe Ambassadors, yet Lee’s movie, Da 5 Bloods, was completely snubbed), here are our highlights dispatched from the eye of the storm: the Golden Globes’ maelstrom of chaos.
Emily in Paris - SURPRISE
The truth is that smart pundits begrudgingly had this show on their predictions, figuring that a quote-unquote “international” series that became as widely seen as this one would be catnip for an awards group with basic tastes that fancy themselves cosmopolitan. It’s just hilarious that it was the first nominee of the morning, heralding the havoc that would follow. (Star Lily Collins earned a Best Actress nod, too. C’est la vie.)
What We Do in the Shadows, Insecure, Better Things PEN15, Ramy, Dave - SNUB
It’s an appropriate reaction to shrug and sigh “of course” when Emily in Paris gets a nomination. But then you look at all the comedies that were slighted and revert back to being infuriating that Mademoiselle Beret and her Instagram filters were included in their stead. (Like most categories, however, Best Comedy is fairly solid outside of the Paris oddity: The Flight Attendant, The Great, Schitt’s Creek, and Ted Lasso is a great mix of cool factor, nice factor, and legitimately good factor.)
Kate Hudson and Music - SURPRISE
Yes, Sia has co-written and directed a movie in which Kate Hudson plays a woman with a shaved head named Kazu Gamble. She performs musical numbers as envisioned in the mind of a young autistic girl controversially played by a performer who is not on the spectrum. And yes, Hudson did get nominated in the Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical performance over Meryl Streep.
Spike Lee and Da 5 Bloods - SNUB
Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods has been a major award-season player thus far, and the director, his film, and stars Delroy Lindo and Chadwick Boseman were expected to factor heavily into Wednesday’s Globe nominations. Making its complete shutout even more awkward: His son, Jackson, and daughter, Satchel, were already selected to be this year’s Golden Globe Ambassadors, the celebrity children who hand out trophies on stage. It’s a pretty egregious blight, too, as the film’s omission comes at what is otherwise a great year when it comes to diversity, at least by Golden Globes standards.
Three Women in Best Director - SURPRISE
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Regina King (One Night in Miami), and Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) stack a Best Director category that has been called out on stage in the past for turning a cold shoulder to deserving female directors. They become just the sixth, seventh, and eighth women to ever be nominated in this category at the Globes.
I May Destroy You - SNUB
The TV series that appeared at number one on almost every critic’s best-of-the-year list and thus could arguably be called quite literally “the best TV show of the year” is somehow not considered even worthy of a single nomination from the HFPA. Maybe it’s the subject matter, maybe it’s the cerebral nature of the storytelling, maybe it’s the lack of stars, but pundits were defeatists heading into nominations, assuming it would be snubbed. That’s a pretty dismal assumption to have about an organization that hands out awards for the best of the year! A reminder that last year both Watchmen and When They See Us were snubbed in this category. Hmm, I wonder if there’s a pattern here...
James Corden in The Prom - SURPRISE
OK, to be honest, it would have been more surprising for Corden not to be nominated for The Prom, the feel-good Netflix musical directed by Ryan Murphy about queer acceptance and high-school dances. Despite Corden’s performance turning out to be a controversial entry into the “straight actors playing gay roles” debate, some wondered whether The Prom could feasibly be the morning’s most nominated movie. The shock is that the Globes showed restraint, having resisted showering the star-studded musical with love, passing over Murphy, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells and just rewarding Corden and the film itself.
Paul Raci in Sound of Metal - SNUB
While Paul Raci has racked up an impressive haul of critics’ prizes for his subtle, devastating work in Sound of Metal, Golden Globe recognition would have given the kind of publicity boost that a performance like this in a smaller film by an unknown performer needs to make it to Oscars. (His co-star, Riz Ahmed, did get a nod.)
Jared Leto in The Little Things - SURPRISE
With apologies to all Emilys in Paris, this was the true biggest WTF nomination of the morning. The Little Things, which premiered on HBO Max last weekend, was ravaged by critics, and cursed to the high heavens by yours truly, who was unforgivably bored while watching. Yet Leto, who did net the most positive notices from the film, ends up an award nominee? (For more on “actor who is OK in an otherwise dreadful film who is now a Golden Globe nominee”: Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy.)
Lovecraft Country - SNUB AND SURPRISE
While a HBO thriller-horror series with excellent special effects and buzzy performances is exactly the kind of series you’d think the Globes would embrace, its awkward history with diversity in television had some wondering how it would fare. The rub on Lovecraft Country: A deserved Best Drama nomination, but a confusing shutout of leads Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett, who are the definition of the Hot Industry Stars the Globes normally can’t wait to hand trophies to.
Ratched - SURPRISE
Copy and paste everything said about Netflix’s Emily in Paris here and apply it to Netflix’s Ratched. The nod for the Ryan Murphy series (the Globes really can’t resist him) and star Sarah Paulson came in spite of tepid critical notices. Still, the show was hugely popular on the streaming service, and the Globes like rewarding a big hit, even if it sometimes sends critics stark raving mad to the looney bin.
The Boys, P-Valley, Bridgerton, We Are Who We Are - SNUB
Ratched aside, the Best Drama lineup is pretty much exactly what you expect from the Globes, and from most award shows this year: The Mandalorian, The Crown, Lovecraft Country, Ozark. It’s kind of a staid list when the Globes, notorious for out-of-the-box recognition of fun, experimental genre series, could have championed a satirical superhero series like The Boys; a gritty and revelatory strip-club set drama like P-Valley; the corseted, sexy soapiness of Bridgerton; or the swoony-scary coming-of-age angst of We Are Who We Are.
Emerald Fennell, Chloé Zhao, and Aaron Sorkin: Double Nominees - SURPRISE
When something is as provocative and as unique as Promising Young Woman—and from a distinctly female gaze—it’s never clear how celebrated it will be by major awards groups. The Globes, however, went gaga for it, not only giving it Best Picture and Best Actress, for Carey Mulligan, but double-nominating its star Emerald Fennell in borth Best Director and Best Screenplay. More expected were the sweeps by critical darling Nomadland and Trial of Chicago 7—while more divisive, it does come from awards favorite Aaron Sorkin. Both Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao and Sorkin join Fennell as double writing-directing nominees, while scoring best picture and acting nods as well (Frances McDormand and Sacha Baron Cohen, respectively).
The Minari Cast - SNUB
Controversy brewed when Minari, an American film about an American story set in America, was placed in the Best Foreign Language film category. But the cast was still eligible in the acting categories, and got shut out. It’s an infuriating pattern. When films with Asian casts are celebrated by awards groups, like Parasite, Slumdog Millionaire, or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, its cast ends up largely ignored. At the very least Minari’s Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung should have been nominees.
John Boyega in Small Axe - SURPRISE
The discourse surrounding whether the Small Axe anthology is TV or film has been exhausting, and it is competing in different categories at different awards. It’s considered TV here, where one of the film’s lead actors, John Boyega, is nominated for supporting actor. It’s all just confusing.
The Non-Lin-Manuel Miranda Hamilton Cast - SNUB
Why decide to let a taped Broadway performance of Hamilton be eligible in the film categories and not pummel its stars with nominations? Instead, only Lin-Manuel Miranda got nominated, over Leslie Odom Jr., who beat him for the Tony Award. Not nominating Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo is also a choice.
Leslie Odom Jr. and Andra Day singing and acting nominees - SURPRISE
Both Leslie Odom Jr. and Andra Day pulled a Mary J. Blige/Cynthia Erivo this year, being nominated for original songs they wrote and performed in the films they also scored acting nominations for, with Odom being nominated for One Night in Miami and Day for The United States vs. Billie Holliday.
A Random List of Surprises
- Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster nominated for late-entry The Mauritanian
- Helena Zengel for News of the World cracking the Best Supporting Actress race
- Sacha Baron Cohen a double nominee for Borat Subsequent Movie Film and The Trial of Chicago 7
- Rosamund Pike nominated for one of those “what movie is that?” films, I Care a Lot
- Anya Taylor-Joy a double nominee for Emma. and The Queen’s Gambit
- The Rose family all nominated for Schitt’s Creek
- Jane Levy for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. That’s nice!
- The Father performing so well: Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay
- Mank, of all of the year’s movies, leading the film nominees
A Random List of Snubs
- No Cristin Milioti for Palm Springs! Rude!
- No Mrs. America in Limited Series, and only Cate Blanchett gets in from its starry cast
- Nothing for Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Let Them All Talk, First Cow, and Ammonite
- It did not deserve anything, but truly surprising that Wild Mountain Thyme, the kind of ridiculous rom-com the Globes love, didn’t get anything
- No Pete Davidson nomination for his King of Staten Island leading-man debut
- No Tom Hanks, who gave two great leading performances this year in News of the World and Greyhound