Golden Globes Analysis: If an Awards Show Announces Nominations But Nobody Cares, Have They Really Voted?

The Hollywood Foreign Press took time out from their self-improvement push to release nominations that aren’t likely to have any impact on this awards season

Golden Globes nominations 2021
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If you’re wondering what this year’s Golden Globe Awards nominations mean, here’s one answer: Voters from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the most part stuck with the usual suspects, picking high-profile contenders throughout the categories without any of the big shocks or embarrassing choices that sometimes litter the disgraced group’s nominations.  

But the real question to ask about Monday’s nominations announcement, which was conspicuously missing the kind of stars who normally deliver the news, is this: Will anybody in Hollywood care? And is the scandal-mired HFPA an organization with which studios, networks and stars want to associate in 2021?

The answer to those questions appears to be no. Every journalist who covers the entertainment industry knows what usually happens in the weeks leading up to Globes nominations: Publicists and awards consultants send out dozens of emails asking if outlets are doing reaction interviews with the nominees or taking those ubiquitous reaction statements in which delighted stars talk about how surprised and grateful they are to be noticed by the HFPA.

And as soon as the nominations are announced, media inboxes fill with those statements.

This year, nobody sent out those emails. Nobody wants to go on the record expressing gratitude to an organization that is undergoing a massive overhaul in an attempt to regain the credibility it lost by being too white and too eager to capitalize on and take advantage of the clout that its once-televised awards show gave it.

And after six months in which the HFPA added more new members than usual – six of them Black, which brings the total number of Black members to, well, six – and pledged to behave more ethically, Hollywood has not shown much interest in wooing Globes voters.

The group’s Jan. 9 awards show will not be televised, and it likely won’t be star-studded, either. The nominations announcement was a desultory affair in which HFPA president Helen Hoene vowed, “We have worked tirelessly … to be better,” and then brought out the one star who’d apparently agreed to take part, Snoop Dogg.

And yes, the nominations were credible, more or less. With “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Dune,” “King Richard” and “The Power of the Dog” on the drama side and “Cyrano,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Licorice Pizza,” “tick, tick … BOOM!” and “West Side Story” in musical or comedy, voters didn’t overlook anything crucial, except maybe “Nightmare Alley,” though one would hope that “The Tragedy of Macbeth” could have been nominated for more than just Denzel Washington’s lead performance and that “C’mon, C’mon” could have been nominated for something.

The group nominated two women for Best Director, one obvious (Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog”) and one surprising (Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter”), and five Black actors in the film categories, two of which (Mahershala Ali for “Swan Song” and Ruth Negga for “Passing”) were mild surprises.

Still, it’s hard to tell what was overlooked. While the HFPA changed its usual rules and did not require films to be submitted in order to be eligible, likely to avoid the embarrassment of too many major films not being submitted (or nominated) at all, the group said it “accommodated filmmakers/studios who requested their content to be considered only for specific categories.” (But which filmmakers, and which categories?)

So it’s impossible to say that the nominations really help “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog,” the two most nominated films, or hurt “Nightmare Alley.” Nor are they likely to boost the already sterling reputation of HBO’s “Succession,” which topped the TV categories.

In fact, as the deafening silence from nominees suggests, they don’t really mean much of anything. People in Hollywood paid attention to the HFPA because it had a television show that got better ratings than most awards shows, and because that visibility might help them on the road to the award they really cared about, the Oscar.  

At this point the visibility is mostly gone, at least for now, and this particular organization’s stamp of approval isn’t going to boost anybody’s chances.

So congratulations, nominees. And now it’s time to go back to ignoring the HFPA while they continue that work of “being better.”