Golden Globes Voters Offer a Timid Slate of Nominees – Except for ‘Joker’

With a slate of nominations that included four best-picture nods for Netflix, Todd Phillips’ dark superhero flick and Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Parasite’ were among the few bold choices

Warner Bros.

Golden Globes voters sent a lot of different messages on Monday morning with their nominations for the 77th annual ceremony.

They told Disney that its “live-action” remake of “The Lion King” was actually an animated movie.

They told Constance Wu that their admiration for “Hustlers” didn’t extend beyond J-Lo.

They told Robert De Niro that while they loved his co-stars in “The Irishman,” for now he’d have to remain content with his nine past acting nominations, his one win and his Cecil B. De Mille Award — unless he wanted to take solace in his nomination as one of the producers of “The Irishman,” which probably softened the blow of overlooking his performance.

They told Hollywood’s indies that while they didn’t mind bold, aggressive movies if they came from Warner Bros. and starred Joaquin Phoenix, or from a arty Korean auteur like “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho, they weren’t ready to go there with the rougher, scrappier likes of “The Lighthouse” or “Uncut Gems.”

They told Noah Baumbach that while they liked “Marriage Story” enough to give it more nominations than any other movie, they didn’t think he was one of the five best directors of the year.

They told Netflix that it was indeed the future of Hollywood — or, actually, the present of Hollywood, with three of the five nominations in the Best Motion Picture – Drama category (“The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes”) and one more in Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (“Dolemite Is My Name”). That’s four times as many as anybody else.

They told Universal and “Cats” that screening a work-in-progress at the very last minute isn’t enough to get nominations — except, you know, for that new Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber song, because of course they want T-Swift and Lord Andrew at the ceremony.

They told “The Farewell” that even though it was a mainstream hit, it belonged in the foreign-language category, and that the actress they liked best from the movie was the one they’d seen before, Awkwafina, rather than the scene-stealing one they didn’t know, Zhao Shuzhen.

And they told “Parasite” that while it was also one of those foreign-language flicks, it also belonged in a couple of the mainstream categories, just like all the critics said.

The messages were contradictory and scattered, which should probably be expected from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization whose 87 voting members are split between an old guard and some more adventurous voices.

In general, though, despite the admiration for “Joker” and “Parasite,” this year’s nominations fell on the timid side, with the HFPA apparently feeling that “Uncut Gems” and “The Lighthouse” were too weird, Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” too arty, Jordan Peele’s “Us” too much of a horror flick.

But “The Two Popes” pleased them to the tune of four nominations, while they made room for their old pal Clint Eastwood (13 nominations and three wins in the past) by giving his movie “Richard Jewell” a supporting-actress nod (for Kathy Bates) and for their old pal Cate Blanchett her 10th nom for “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”

That Blanchett nomination, one of the morning’s most surprising, helped prove the essential silliness of the Globes drama and musical-or-comedy splits, which still seem to exist mostly to get more stars on the show. Her category, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, included three nominees from films that didn’t get nominations in any other category: Blanchett, Emma Thompson for “Late Night” and Beanie Feldstein for “Booksmart.”

In the TV categories, the Globes voters seemed more fickle, snubbing past winners like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Veep” in favor of shinier new series like “The Morning Show” and “The Politician.” Ava Duvernay’s “When They See Us” was a surprising shut-out, while only Kit Harington was recognized for the final season of “Game of Thrones.”

While there were no particular shockers in the film nominations, there was nothing very bold, either. No, the voters didn’t embarrass themselves, a formerly common occurrence that for several years now has seemed to largely be a thing of the past.

But they didn’t seem very forward-looking or adventurous, either. Globes voters responded to the kind of movies that they’ve always liked, and to the companies that treated them well. And in a year in which their show will be over only five days into the new year, they didn’t really do anything to suggest that this year’s shindig will be remembered for long.