The nominations for the Golden Globes, made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are notoriously capricious and unpredictable, satisfying no one and startling many. This year’s nominations are no different, with some obvious choices (like The Shape of Water and Game of Thrones) alongside some real curveballs.
In a field as crowded as this one — there are dozens of TV shows and films nominated for awards, with few clear frontrunners in any category going forward — it’s hard to make sweeping pronouncements about trends in the industry. But changes in the TV industry are evident in the nominations, and the set of sexual assault allegations in Hollywood made an impact in at least one category as well.
Here are three winners and three losers in this year’s list of Golden Globes nominations.
Winner: All the Money in the World
Almost nobody has seen All the Money in the World yet. Ridley Scott made a last-minute decision to reshoot Kevin Spacey’s scenes from the movie with Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty after sexual assault allegations about Spacey came to light. And Scott insisted the movie would still be ready for awards season. (The film’s release date, which was originally slated for December 22, was delayed by only three days.)
But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has seen the film, and they like it. All the Money in the World received three nominations: one for Plummer, one for star Michelle Williams, and one for Scott himself, whose strong directorial decision-making seems to have paid off. The film is screening too late for most critics’ groups to include it in their voting and to be included in most year-end lists, but the Golden Globes could give the movie the push it needs to be a strong contender when Oscar nominations are announced in mid-January, following the Globes.
Winner: Jessica Biel
Biel’s work in The Sinner is the best she’s ever been onscreen, and the star-loving HFPA sat up and took notice, slotting her into the “Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television” category alongside Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon from Feud, and Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon from Big Little Lies. Before today, those five names would seem a particularly difficult puzzle for a “What do they have in common?” Jeopardy! category, but no more.
The Sinner itself was also nominated in the Best Limited Series or Movie Made for Television category, which also had to have been heartening for Biel, who was a producer on the USA murder mystery.
The series, which aired over the summer, drew solid ratings but seemed to lack the sort of media buzz that often is necessary for Globe nominations (about which more in a bit). But it looks like HFPA members will always follow the stars — and Jessica Biel was right there to guide them along. Here’s a GIF of her performance from BoJack Horseman, which also hit new heights in 2017: The Year Jessica Biel Was Good.
Loser: The Big Sick
One big way that the Golden Globes are different from the Oscars is in the way they treat films: In most categories, they’re split out by Drama and Comedy/Musical. That split can lead to some controversy (as it did already this year with the characterization of Get Out as a comedy), but it also means that comedies and musicals, which get much less prestigious awards attention than their dramatic cousins, can get a little love, too.
That’s what’s so baffling about the total shutout of The Big Sick, one of the year’s funniest, smartest, most well-made comedies. In its place are four comedies (The Disaster Artist, Get Out, I, Tonya, and Lady Bird), all of which richly deserve the attention they’ve been getting from critics’ groups so far this year. But though it’s an eyepopping, expensive showstopper, there’s no way the fifth nominee in the category, The Greatest Showman, can hold a candle to The Big Sick.
Perhaps the problem simply is that 2017 is the rare year where the list of comedies and musicals is just as stacked as the drama list: The four non-Greatest Showman comedies noted above all make appearances in the acting categories as well, along with the terrifically fun Baby Driver and three less solid movies (Battle of the Sexes, Victoria & Abdul, and The Leisure Seeker) that are also ostensibly comedies.
Winner: Christian Slater
It doesn’t matter how popular Mr. Robot is, or even how good it is. The Globes will continue to nominate Slater for their crazy, all over the place supporting actor on television category (which combines supporting actors from dramas and comedies and limited series and made-for-TV movies), even when he’s brushing aside nearly everybody from Game of Thrones in order to do so. And, look, season three is Mr. Robot’s best season, so it’s nice to see it recognized. But this is still a little weird.
Losers: female film directors
2017 brought a number of great films from female directors, and three of them persisted in the cultural conversation as having awards-season potential: Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman, Dee Rees for Mudbound, and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. (Battle of the Sexes was also co-directed by a woman, Valerie Ferris.) Two of these films, Mudbound and Lady Bird, have been major players in awards conversations thus far.
So it was a shame to see the Globes opt for an all-male slate of directors. None of the five — Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Ridley Scott (All the Money in the World), and Steven Spielberg (The Post) — are unworthy picks. But they’re predictable, which isn’t usually the Globes’ modus operandi. They also slighted Jordan Peele, whose directorial debut in Get Out has won several awards from critics and industry groups so far this year.
Losers: TV viewers
Yes, technically the big winner of the Globe TV nominations was Big Little Lies, which hauled in a remarkable six nominations — and probably would have even in the more competitive drama series categories (where it will properly belong in the future, now that it’s returning for a second season). It’s very rare for a TV series to do that well at the Globes, which have limited categories and opportunities for most shows, but Big Little Lies pulled it off.
But the real problem here should be evident in the phrase “limited categories and opportunities for most shows.”
The Golden Globe TV nominations always feel lazily slapped together by a bunch of people who mostly know about TV from reading the table of contents of a People magazine while waiting to check out at the supermarket. Whether the Globe TV nominations are good or bad or pretty boring (as they are this year), they never feel idiosyncratic, quirky, or infuriating enough to have been put together by people who are deeply engaged with the medium on some level.
The disappointment only grows more acute the deeper we get into the era of Peak TV. An awards body that eschews the safer choices of the Emmys could pull off some really crazy shit. The Globes renominated Will & Grace for best comedy on television over Insecure or The Good Place or Better Things or Superstore or Speechless or literally dozens of much better other comedies. But Will & Grace got the hype. And while Will & Grace is an enjoyable enough little show, that should tell you everything right there.
Truth be told, the Emmys are currently the most reliably surprising TV awards show. And that should never, ever be the case. The HFPA needs to figure out why it even has TV categories if it’s not going to do anything with them.