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Golden Globes Add New Category Names and Definitions – and Not Because of Pandemic

The changes, which focus on acting, directing, foreign-language and TV categories, are unrelated to recent changes made because of the coronavirus


The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made a number of changes in its rules for the Golden Globe Awards, but none of them have anything to do with the coronavirus.

While the HFPA has in recent months changed its eligibility requirements to reflect theater closings due to the pandemic, its new revisions — which were approved in March but not announced until Wednesday — largely concern definitions and clarifications in the acting, foreign-language and television categories.

In the acting categories, for instance, the new rules define a “lead cast member” this way: “Lead cast members in a motion picture must be the central characters who appear in a substantial portion of the motion picture and who drive the narrative of the motion picture,” and specify that supporting cast members must appear in at least 5% of the film’s total running time.

They also spell out that voice-only performances and roles in which the actor’s face is not visible are not eligible for acting awards.

For directing awards, the new rules define eligible directors as “the individual(s) who have exercised all traditional theatrical feature film directorial functions in connection with original photography and have received an on-screen ‘Directed By’ credit.”

The rules now also spell out details about the Best Foreign Language Film category, with many of the changes seemingly designed to ward off the kind of problems that beset the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film category last year. They define a foreign-language film as “a motion picture drama or musical or comedy with more than 50% non-English dialogue,” and then specify, “For purposes of determining whether a motion picture is more than 50% English or non-English, dialects, pidgins and other local usages of English shall be considered English. The use of subtitles to make such dialects, pidgins and local usages of English understandable to a broad range of English speakers does not affect the classification of such dialogue as English.”

Last year, two films initially accepted by the Academy in the international category, Austria’s “Joy” and Nigeria’s “Lionheart,” were disqualified for having too much English, with the use of subtitled pidgin in the former film a bone of contention.

The Globes rules also acknowledge that a foreign-language film can have more than one country of origin, “provided that each country of origin must have a role in the production of the motion picture (filming location, setting, residence of key personnel such as producers, actors, directors, etc.) in addition to providing financing for the motion picture.”

Changes in the television categories center around anthology series like “Black Mirror,” which now compete alongside limited series and TV movies. To reflect the addition of anthologies, three category names have been changed: Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Additional revisions specify that active and lifetime members of the HFPA can vote for the Globes; place the responsibility for accuracy on the individuals submitting entries, although the HFPA will attempt to correct errors and omissions; and emphasize that members must report all gifts and favors valued at more than $95 “from a potential entrant in the Golden Globes Awards competition” to the HFPA and its accounting firm.

The HFPA has yet to announce the 2021 date for its ceremony, which normally takes place in early January.