Immediate Takeaways from the 2021 Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globes are sort of like Whose Line is It Anyway? (1998-2007, 2013-): everything’s made up, and the points don’t matter. Except, since they are the first major awards show of the Hollywood season to announce their nominees, the Globes always have a way of making everyone crazy. This is even though we are all well aware that the Academy Awards, the thing people actually care about,  rarely take any cues from their weird and quite drunk younger sibling of a show. To quote the wonderful David Ehrlich, “the Golden Globes are like the Babadook in that they only have power if you give it to them but also it always seems to feel like they might kill us all at any moment.” 

Why are the Globes regarded in such a fashion? Well, the nominees and winners are decided upon by a small group of journalists named the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations (HFPA), and they are infamous for choosing star-power over art, and constantly making unfortunate decisions. This year was already on that path when the HFPA decided that even though Minari (2020) was an American-made movie by an Asian-American director, it would be classified as foreign and therefore could not compete for the Best Motion Picture award. 

So why then am I about to launch into a list of takeaways from the nominees? Well, dear reader, it is because, to paraphrase Ehrlich, the Hollywood machine continuously decides to give the Globes power, and so I elect to take them seriously enough to recognize that they might have an impact on casual movie-goers and the broader pop culture landscape. Even if cinephiles and serious artists do not take the Globes seriously, the average person who is saner than us entertainment journalists who does not spend months out of the year obsessing over what will break into awards season is most likely influenced by what the Globes elevate to awards statute. And so, here I am, giving the Globes their power by highlighting a few major takeaways, and stick around to the end for the full list of nominees:

Female Director Nominations Make History

(From left to Right) Emerald Fennell, Chloé Zhao, & Regina King

Before this morning, only five women had ever been nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes, and Barbra Streisand currently stands as the only woman ever to win the award. Now that the dust has settled on the nominations, the total number of female director nominees is now eight, resulting in, for the first time ever at any major awards show, a Best Director category where female directors outnumber male directors. The three female nominees this year are Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman (2020), Chloé Zhao for Nomadland (2020), and Regina King for One Night in Miami (2020). Each of their films has been touted as among the best of the year, and Nomadland in fact is many bookkeepers odds-on-favorite to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Nonetheless, we have seen time and again that female directors are passed over for their exceptional work, so it is invigorating to see these three remarkable filmmakers nominated for their outstanding work. I can only hope that one of the filmmakers will finally join Streisand by winning the award, which is the next hurdle that the HFPA can easily find a way to trip over. 

Black-Led Films Blanked in Best Motion Picture

Publicity still from “One Night in Miami” (2020)

While the Globes gained some goodwill for their decisions in the Best Director category, their failure to nominate any of the Black-led films from this year in the Best Motion Picture – Drama category is stunningly asinine, even for the Globes. Even though One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020), and Judas and the Black Messiah (2020) were showered with nominations in other categories, and even though each movie is critically adored, they were passed over for white-led ensembles. Adding another layer to this, the Globes blanked Spike Lee’s masterful Da 5 Bloods (2020) entirely. Instead, they nominated The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) which I previously wrote about on the site and is widely regarded as an enjoyable but flawed film. Instead, they nominated The Father (2020), which has not yet seen any major kind of release, and carries festival reviews that note it as an impressive acting showcase for Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins, but is otherwise a shallow melodrama. These choices continue to reveal the HFPA as a major part of Hollywood’s dangerous and shameful tradition of ignoring Black talent in favor of mediocre whiteness. 

Netflix Dominates Everything

In an entertainment year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced theaters to close and has pushed many traditional studios to the brink of financial ruin, Netflix has carried on with business as usual thanks to their place as the preeminent streaming service in the world. They simply have the ability to put out more content without disruption or fear of not making money because they are not focused on box office returns, and so while the rest of the competition pushed releases and sold off properties to streamers, Netflix continued pumping out content. I note this because it is the context for a truly jaw-dropping reality: Netflix secured 42 nominations this morning while all other distributors combined only managed 83. Across film and television, Netflix wiped the floor with everyone else in the game, and therefore I can only imagine how Ted Sarandos looked watching the nomination telecast. The highlights include two nominees for Best Motion Picture – Drama, two nominees for Best Television Series – Drama, and all but one nomination in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, to point out but a few. Netflix is all but assured of a cleaning up on awards night.

Anya Taylor-Joy’s Big Year Officially has Awards Clout

Anya Taylor-Joy at the premiere of “Emma.” (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy’s star has been rising steadily since she stole every scene in Robert Eggers horrifying The Witch (2015). The 24-year-old actress has already compiled an impressive resumé across indie films, television, and major productions, including a starring role in Split (2016) and a criminally underseen turn in Thoroughbreds (2017). Therefore it was only a matter of time before Taylor-Joy skyrocketed out of critical acclaim into the realm of the bonafide star. Well, we’ve reached that point, and the Golden Globes are the first major awards show to send the point home with nominations. Taylor-Joy started the year with an effortlessly charming and grounded turn as Emma Woodhouse in Autumn de Wilde’s Jane Austen adaptation Emma. (2020). The film suffered from releasing into theaters just before the pandemic hit, and so became lost in the initial shuffle to VOD release. Nonetheless, the Globes have blessed Taylor-Joy with a well-earned  Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical nomination. However, it is Taylor-Joy’s work in the record-shattering Netflix mini-series The Queen’s Gambit (2020) that made her a household name and secured her a second Globes action nomination, this time for Best Actress – Limited Series. It’s Anya Taylor-Joy’s awards season, we’re just living in it. 

Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) Might be a Real Contender

I have already spent column inches discussing how the Globes don’t really matter, but I still have to hedge my bets because every once and a while they actually sway opinions. This year, it is their decision to bestow three nominations on Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm that leaves me wondering if Sacha Baron Cohen and company may just have a road to the Academy Awards. Do I mean that Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm will go all the way to a Best Picture nomination? To quote my beloved Larry Rheinhartsen, good God no. Is it possible that the buzz and love for supporting actress Maria Bakalova will propel her to a Best Supporting Actress nomination now that the Globes have reminded everyone that she was the best part of the movie? Stranger things have happened. Awards prognosticators have debated whether or not the now-infamous Rudy Giuliani scene would endear the film to awards voters because of how expertly it takes down a loathed public official, but until now, that prognostication had no awards fodder to back it up. It may be nothing, but this could be the power the Globes take for themselves this year, knighting Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm a legitimate contender in some way, shape, or form. 

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Yes, Hamilton has been nominated as a movie for the Golden Globes. No, it is still ineligible for the Academy Awards. It is simply the gonzo HFPA rules at play here. 
  • Ted Lasso (2020-) getting some awards love is the serotonin rush I needed today. 
  • It was no surprise that Gillian Anderson was nominated for The Crown (2016-), but you better believe her nomination now gives me an excuse to break out my terrible Thatcher impression until we exit awards season. 
  • Above all, wishing that we could be celebrating Chadwick Boseman’s nomination today with the actor still alive instead of mourning the loss of such a titanic figure. 


Best Motion Picture, Drama

The Father



Promising Young Woman

The Trial of the Chicago 7 

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

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

Best Director, Motion Picture

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

David Fincher, Mank

Regina King, One Night in Miami

Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Jack Fincher, Mank

Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, The Father

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm



Palm Springs

The Prom

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

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

Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman, The Father

Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian

Amanda Seyfried, Mank

Helena Zengel, News of the World

Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Jared Leto, The Little Things

Bill Murray, On the Rocks

Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami

Best Motion Picture, Animated

The Croods: A New Age 


Over the Moon



Best Picture, Foreign Language

Another Round

The Life Ahead

La Llorona


Two of Us 

Best Original Score, Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat, The Midnight Sky

Ludwig Göransson, Tenet

James Newton Howard, News of the World

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Mank

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste, Soul

Best Original Song, Motion Picture

“Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah

“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7

“Is Si (Seen),” The Life Ahead

“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami

“Tigress & Tweed,” The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Television Series, Drama

The Crown

Lovecraft Country

The Mandalorian



Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Olivia Colman, The Crown

Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Emma Corrin, The Crown

Laura Linney, Ozark

Sarah Paulson, Ratched

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Josh O’Connor, The Crown

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Al Pacino, Hunters

Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy

Emily in Paris

The Flight Attendant

The Great

Schitt’s Creek

Ted Lasso

Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

Lily Collins, Emily in Paris

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Elle Fanning, The Great

Jane Levy, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

Don Cheadle, Black Monday

Nicholas Hoult, The Great

Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

Normal People

The Queen’s Gambit

Small Axe

The Undoing


Best Performance by an Actress, Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America

Shira Haas, Unorthodox

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People

Nicole Kidman, The Undoing

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

Best Performance by an Actor, Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture made for Television

Bryan Cranston, Your Honor

Jeff Daniels, The Comey Rule

Hugh Grant, The Undoing

Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird

Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Best Supporting Actress, Television

Gillian Anderson, The Crown

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown

Julia Garner, Ozark

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek

Cynthia Nixon, Ratched

Best Supporting Actor, Television

John Boyega, Small Axe

Brendan Gleeson, The Comey Rule

Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Jim Parsons, Hollywood

Donald Sutherland, The Undoing

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