Why the 2021 Golden Globe nominations are raising eyebrows

In the lead up to the Oscars, the Golden Globes nominations mark the beginning of awards season. Thanks to COVID-19, the presentation of the 78th annual Golden Globes Awards is also a little different this year. Airing February 28 on NBC, the ceremony will be hosted virtually and bicoastally for the first time with hosts actresses and comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presenting from New York and Los Angeles, respectively. 

The Globes’ nominations always tend to hold industry and awards watchers in suspense — and disbelief. This year’s nods turned out to be no different with snubs and surprises that are sending shockwaves through the Internet. While there are many nominations to celebrate, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association may also face its fiercest year yet of criticism for its rather “interesting” choices. Here are some standouts from this year’s nominations:

Finally, women are being recognised for their work behind the camera

In the shadow of viral moments such as Natalie Portman presenting the 2018 Golden Globes’ Best Director category with, “Here are the all-male nominees”, it seems maybe the awards are starting to realize its representation bias. In a first for the Globes and awards show history, three female directors have been recognized for the best director category, a significant moment following decades of not having any female nominations in the category. 

In the Globes’ 78 year history, only five female directors have ever been nominated, and of those five, Barbara Streisand was nominated twice. Streisand is still the only woman to ever win a Golden Globe for best director. This year, Regina King, for One Night in Miami, Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman become the sixth, seventh and eighth women to receive the best directing nod. With King and Zhao in the running, this would be the first year a woman of Asian descent has ever been nominated for the category and the second time a Black female director has been nominated. 

Zero nominations for Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You

Photo: @imaydestroyyou/Instagram

As with any awards, it’s as much about who wasn’t nominated as it is who was. Undoubtedly the loudest upset has been the complete omission of the critically acclaimed BBC/HBO limited series I May Destroy You, which got exactly no nominations. 

The oversight incited fierce reactions from Hollywood stars, industry insiders, and even TV writers from other shows. Deborah Copaken, a writer for Netflix’s Emily in Paris, which garnered two nominations, even wrote a blistering op-ed for The Guardian expressing her utter dismay.

“Am I excited that Emily in Paris was nominated? Yes. Of course…. But that excitement is now unfortunately tempered by my rage over Coel’s snub. That I May Destroy You did not get one Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s what is wrong with everything,” Copaken writes. Yikes.

Netflix dominates, any way you slice it

Photo: Vicky Gharat/Pixabay

Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 became the year where there was little difference between sitting on the couch to watch TV and going to the movies. And television, with its episodic nature and ability to provide just the right length of escape, has become an undeniably important part of our collective pandemic experience. 

The Golden Globes nominations, and perhaps all the awards shows this season, certainly reflects this. Last year Netflix became the first outlet ever to lead both film and TV nominations at the Golden Globes, only to do it again this year with even more nods collecting a staggering 42 nominations across both movie and television categories. Following Netflix’s lead, streaming services, such as Amazon Studios with 10 noms and Hulu with 9 noms, fared well in comparison to other traditional movie studios and cable and TV distributors. How many of those nominations land an award is yet to be seen. 

No love for Black film and TV

Photo: @maraineyfilm/Instagram

In a year that gave us Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, Da Five Bloods, Insecure, Lovecraft Country, P-Valley, Judas and the Black Messiah, and of course, I May Destroy You, critics are pointing out a strange lack of representation from an otherwise strong year of film and television representing the Black experience. 

In some instances, projects were nominated on a whole, such as Lovecraft Country for Best Television Series — Drama, while none of its actors were recognized. And in others, entire projects, like Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods or Issa Rae’s Insecure were missed out completely despite garnering high praise and awards elsewhere. 

If for no other reason than to witness what a virtual awards show is like, the Golden Globes will be a curious one regardless. Taking place in just over weeks, there’s plenty of TV and film to catch up on, that is, if you care to get over the snubs. 

Check out the 78th annual Golden Globes awards here.

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