NEW YORK—After a year where the pandemic nearly emptied movie theaters, Netflix dominated nominations to the 78th Golden Globe Awards on Wednesday, with David Fincher’s “Mank” leading film nominees with six nods and “The Crown” topping all television series.
The Globes, delayed about two months due to the coronavirus, tried to muster some of the awards’ usual buzz on Wednesday in a largely virtual awards season bereft the kind of red-carpet glamour the Globes annually feast on. And perhaps to account for the otherwise lack of it, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association heaped nominations on two lavish period pieces rich in royalty—both the Hollywood variety (the black-and-white “Mank” dramatizes the making of “Citizen Kane”) and the British kind.
“Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman Mankiewicz, landed nominations for best film, drama; best actor for Gary Oldman; best director for Fincher, best supporting actress for Amanda Seyfried; best score; and best screenplay for Jack Fincher, the director’s father who penned the script before dying in 2003.
“Despite a stressed pandemic year, there is a comfort of sorts in embracing traditions, perhaps it is a hopeful sign that we will get out of this eventually,” Oldman said in a statement. “The Golden Globes are such a sign of both tradition and normal.”
Netflix, which topped all studios at the Globes last year, too, led with a commanding 42 nominations, with 22 coming in film categories and 20 in television. No other studio was close. The day overall belonged to the streaming services. Disney+ (“The Mandalorian”) and HBO Max (“The Flight Attendant”) both notched their first Golden Globe nominations. Apple TV+ scored nods for “Ted Lasso,” “Wolfwalkers,” and “On the Rocks.” Amazon was competitive with Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” and Steve McQueen’s anthology “Small Axe.”
“The Crown” landed six nominations including best series, drama, and acting nods for Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor. The final season of “Schitt’s Creek” trailed with five nominations, while Netflix’s “Ozark” (four nods) and “The Queen’s Gambit” (two nods) also added to the streamer’s totals. (“Queens Gambit” star Anya Taylor-Joy was nominated for both the hit show and for the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma.”)
Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7”—also a Netflix release, about the countercultural clash at the 1968 Democratic National Convention—came in second among movies with five nominations, including nods for best film, drama; best director, and best screenplay for Sorkin; supporting actor for Sacha Baron Cohen; and best song.
“On the one hand, it is strange to be celebrating when so many people are suffering but on the other hand, at least for movie lovers, the Golden Globes are a fun thing,” said Sorkin by phone. “It’ll be a weird ceremony this year. I’m not sure what they’re planning. Who knows what it’s going to look like.”
The other nominees for best film in the drama category were Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland,” Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman,” and Florian Zeller’s “The Father.” Also nominated were the stars of each: Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), and Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”).
Netflix doesn’t report box office figures and both “Nomadland” and “The Father” are yet to open beyond a qualifying run in theaters. So the category’s total box office—a historic low of about $265,000—is due entirely to “Promising Young Woman,” Fennell’s acclaimed revenge drama.
A year after fielding no female nominees for best director—or a best feature film nomination for any movie directed by a woman—the HFPA nominated more female filmmakers than it ever has before. King, Zhao, and Fennell were nominated for best director, alongside Sorkin and Fincher.
By splitting up films between drama and comedy or musical, the Globes gave a boost to an awards season wildcard, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Baron Cohen’s film—one of the few nominees partially shot during the pandemic—was nominated for best picture, comedy, or musical, best actor in a comedy for Baron Cohen, and best supporting actress for Maria Bakalova.
Celebrating the nominations for both “Borat” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Baron Cohen said in a statement: “These two films are different, but they share a common theme—sometimes we have to protest injustice with our own farce.”
Also nominated for best picture in the comedy or musical category were: “Palm Springs,” “The Prom,” “Music,” and “Hamilton.” The film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical isn’t eligible for the Academy Awards but was for the Globes, which also nominated Miranda’s performance.
As expected, Chadwick Boseman was nominated posthumously for his performance in George C. Wolfe’s August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” as was his co-star, Viola Davis.
The other nominees for best actor in a drama, alongside Oldman, Hopkins, and Boseman, were Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal” and Tahar Rahim for “The Mauritanian.” Along with McDormand, Davis, and Mulligan, best actress nominees in a drama film were Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman.”
Gauging the awards prospects of most films has been difficult this winter, with none of the usual screenings and events happening in-person, and a number of the films once expected to lead contenders postponed. But there were still plenty of choices by the press association—an always unpredictable group of 89 voting members—that surprised observers Wednesday.
Spike Lee, whose daughter Satchel and son Jackson are Globes ambassadors this year, saw his Vietnam veteran drama “Da 5 Bloods” unexpectedly shut out entirely. Meryl Streep, who has won eight Globes from a record 32 nominations, was actually snubbed this time, for both “The Prom” and “Let Them All Talk.” Nominations for Jared Leto’s performance as a serial killer in the just-released “The Little Things” and for the Sia-directed musical “Music” were so far out of left field that they seemed likely to rank among previous wayward Globes nominees like “The Tourist.”
The press association also drew much criticism for an earlier decision to consider Lee Isaac Chung’s lauded immigrant drama “Minari,” about a Korean-American family in Arkansas in which the characters largely speak Korean, ineligible for its top award. The group instead nominated “Minari” for best foreign-language film, along with “Another Road,” “La Llorona,” “The Life Ahead,” and “Two of Us.”
The nominations announcement was also scaled down due to the pandemic. Presenters Sarah Jessica Parker and Taraji P. Henson read nominees not from a teleprompter but holding print-outs and streaming live from what appeared to be their homes.
The Globes are typically the first major show of Hollywood’s awards season, which ends with the crowning of the best picture winner at the Oscars. They’ll retain that distinction, despite being delayed nearly two months and opting for a bi-coastal ceremony to be hosted by Tina Fey from New York and Amy Poehler from Beverly Hills, Calif. The Oscars are set for April 25.
Last year’s Golden Globes culminated in awards for “1917” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” The telecast, hosted by Ricky Gervais, couldn’t buck the overall ratings trend for awards shows, drawing an average of 18.3 million viewers, down 2 percent from the previous year.
By Jake Coyle