By K. Austin Collins and Alison Herman
The 2017 Golden Globes nominees were announced bright and early Monday morning, and with them comes the beginning of Peak Awards Season. (And also some extra awards for your favorite TV actors.) Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s just psyched to drink champagne on national television? Read on for your early Winners and Losers.
Winner: ‘La La Land’
K. Austin Collins: Getting nominated for a Best Comedy Golden Globe must feel like seeing all your competitors get food poisoning the morning of a triathlon — all of your would-be competition is over on the Best Drama side. For Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, which is up for seven awards, the field has been decimated. No Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea to thwart its chances at best picture, no Casey or Denzel in the way of the (very good) Ryan Gosling, no Natalie Portman or Amy Adams to steal Emma Stone’s glory. On the other hand, she’ll have to duke it out with Meryl (Florence Foster Jenkins), who isn’t technically a front-runner but, then again, isn’t she? In life, I mean. There’s also Annette Bening, who’s won twice in this category and could again for her fascinating Dust Bowl–era attitude in 20th Century Women.
As for the movie, which is up against Deadpool and Sing Street in the Musical or Comedy category: a clean sweep seems likely in those major categories, at least, save Best Actress, where competition is steep. I’m not sure the same can be said for its would-be competitors over on the Drama side. That’s called momentum. It makes the Oscar race a little exciting — even if that’s more than I can say for the movie.
Collins: … That’s it? We could all see a nomination for Portman coming, thanks to her striking, if maybe overdone, turn as a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. She’s no Isabelle Huppert, who’s up in the same category for Elle, but she’ll probably win. I would also have assumed some love in the Best Picture–Drama category (better that than the awkwardly inspirational cross-racial adoption drama Lion) and maybe even director and screenplay — not so much because it deserved the nods, but because the tear-streaked, narratively abstract biopic so clearly wanted them.
My biggest disappointment is for the now twice-snubbed Mica Levi, whose music for both this and the 2013 sci-fi thriller Under the Skin has been severely underregarded by fancy awards institutions like the Oscars and the Globes. I suspect the movie itself will fare well at the Oscars, which at least give awards for costumes. And Larraín still has a shot at the Globes to win for his Spanish-language film Neruda, which is up for best foreign-language film.
Winner: Tom Ford’s Gift Basket Assembler
Collins: It’s technically against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s rules for the awards tchotchkes to be too lit: voting members cannot accept gifts with a market value in excess of $95. So, of course, the Manchester by the Sea crew sent a poster — a humble gift for a tragic movie. Not so for Nocturnal Animals, whose distributor Focus Features sent voting members of the HFPA two bottles each of director Tom Ford’s signature fragrances — one for men, one for women, each valued at over $100. They were recently (as in last weekend, as in a couple of days ago, as in it was already too late) told to return one bottle.
I’m not saying that’s why Tom Ford is up for best director and best screenplay, but I’m saying that two major nominations for his admirably ambitious and stylish but unsatisfying mess of a movie are … unexpected. (I’ll concede that the movie’s hairstyling may have helped.) On the other hand, Nocturnal Animals won the Silver Lion (second place) at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, and that’s a prize which, like the Globes, has an international jury, so maybe we had some notice. None of that explains the supporting actor nod for the memorable but not remarkable Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who may really only be here for literally taking the piss (albeit naked, on an outdoor toilet, and it wasn’t a piss, but you know what I mean).
Winner: ‘Hell or High Water’
Collins: Hell or High Water has been the awards dark horse that turns out, with every critic’s year-end list, to be less and less of a dark horse. It’s always seemed like a sure thing to me: it’s enjoyable, it’s well-made, it stars Jeff Bridges, so why not? It also happens to be a rare indie movie, awards-wise, that has become a hit. The Globes seem to have cherry-picked most everything that people love about it (save Chris Pine): It’s up for Best Picture–Drama, screenplay, and, of course, supporting actor (for Bridges). Ironically, the worst thing about the movie is the racism of the Bridges character, which always struck me as a little lazy and half-assed. That affects the writing, but not the performance, which is Bridges at his studied, evocative best.
Losers: Great Men
Collins: In: black gay love, L.A. freeway dance numbers, Michelle Williams’s ugly cry, Deadpool. Out: great men? It’s unsurprising the HFPA didn’t totally take to the austere, moody Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-brewing passion project about the persecution of Jesuit priests in 17th-century Japan. That movie is its own worst enemy, awards wise: a late starter and a slow burn. It is also pretty astonishing. And like Clint Eastwood’s Sully, starring certified movie star and HFPA-friendly name Tom Hanks, it’s up for nothing. I’m not sure it bodes poorly for either movie’s Oscar chances, where they can and should make a showing in the technical categories. But there may be a message here. Manchester’s success proves the awards committees aren’t quite sick of heroic suffering — but the shutout of Silence and Sully suggests it’s heroes, themselves, who’ve run their course. (Unless your name is Deadpool.)
Losers: My ears / Winners: Bathroom breaks
Collins: Here’s the thing about kids’ movies: the music. The music. There was a particular displeasure to watching a chipper Anna Kendrick announce Monday morning that a song called “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from Trolls, was a nominee. Trolls indeed. This is where we begin to be glad the Golden Globes don’t have performances of the nominated songs — and when we start to plan our potty breaks for the Oscar telecast. Then again, there’s a lovely tinge of irony to the fact that at least three versions of “believe in yourself!” will be performed for an Oscar crowd full of losers and losers-to-be. The nominee to watch out for is the Lin-Manuel Miranda–penned “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana), which isn’t too bad, and which stands the strongest chance of topping “City of Stars,” from La La Land, a song that seems like a sure bet by virtue of the movie it’s paired with. Actually, I’m not so hot on La La Land’s music, but look at my choices: it’s between hopping aboard the Lin-Manuel Miranda train or joining Team Gosling. I choose Gosling.
Loser: The TV Categories
Alison Herman: Look, the Golden Globes are in something of a tough spot. They’re either simply repeating what the Emmys gave us earlier in the year — yes, People v. O.J. deserves all the acting awards in the world, but it’s not gonna feel quite as exciting this time — or they’re prone to pissing people off with their extremely on-brand new additions. Hence the persistent good fortune of Mozart in the Jungle, putting the “foreign” in “Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” and the unsurprising breakout of The Crown over an Emmys-esque “we goofed!” like The Americans. The Globes like three things: international talent, fresh meat, and dope parties. And while we’re not actually privy to the latter, The Crown fits the first two criteria like gangbusters.
In TV, there’s not really such a thing as “snubs”; given the sheer volume, it’s more surprising that anything does break through the noise than that any particular show does not. (That said, pour one out for Silicon Valley and Orange Is the New Black, cruelly ousted from the field despite strong showings from both this year.) Even so, it’s hard not to find the TV nominees largely uninspiring, a grab bag of inevitabilities and eyerolls. Now, let’s turn to the exceptions.
Herman: Maybe it’s the Emmy momentum still in the air, but the leader of ABC’s domestic-sitcom pack is the rare show to earn a first-time series nomination over two years into its run, especially in a class as insanely overcrowded as “half-hours that are good right now.” (Golden Globe eligibility rules aren’t as formally strict as the Emmys’, merely making the tautological stipulation that comedies must be “primarily … comedic,” dramas dramatic, and so on. But let’s be real: Transparent is contending as a comedy for one reason and one reason only.) Combined with first-time nominations for Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, that’s an extremely rare late — or late for the Globes, anyway — breakthrough, and for a show that very much deserves it. “Being Bow-racial,” an episode that aired all of two weeks ago, is one of the series’ best, topping a year that also included Norman Lear homage “Good-ish Times” and police brutality bottle episode “Hope.”
Winner: ‘This Is Us’
Herman: This Is Us landed both a series nomination and two supporting actress nods — which is insane, because the supporting field isn’t restricted by category, so Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz were competing against every other non-lead actress on television. As a fall show, This Is Us is a chance for the HFPA to plant its flag where the Emmys have yet to tread, and as a ratings bonanza, it’s a chance for the group to cozy up to an ascendant power, just like it did with Empire. In the Golden Globes word cloud, “starfucker” is right next to “drunk celebrities” for a reason.
But, guys: This Is Us is also not good. Moore and Metz certainly deserve some kind of award for putting up with garish old-age makeup and a one-note character literally defined by her weight, respectively, but an acting prize ain’t it. As Empire goes to show, though, Golden Globes success can be fleeting, with the crucial distinction that Taraji P. Henson’s absence is worth mourning. There are just too many excellent ensemble comedies right now to cede precious supporting space for long.
Loser: The ‘Atlanta’ Supporting Cast
Herman: Atlanta is a show that awards bodies are rightfully catching onto and wrongfully channeling their admiration for through the leading actor, comedy category. Donald Glover is an insanely talented multihyphenate who deserves all the credit in the world as Atlanta’s creator and one of its primary writers. But by Glover’s own design, Atlanta is not a showcase for his comedic chops the way, say, oft-cited peer Master of None is for Aziz Ansari’s. Glover gives a deliberately subdued straight-man performance as Earn Marks, the better to play off a veritable sounding board of talent that’s nowhere to be found on the nominations list. By all rights, one of those This Is Us spots belongs to Zazie Beetz for her showcase episode alone; supporting actor is harder to narrow down thanks to the still-looming People v. O.J., but surely the HFPA could have made room for either Lakeith Stanfield or Brian Tyree Henry. We can only hope for another unscripted mic grab from Stanfield.
Herman: A mini-explainer:
Q: What is a “Graves”?
A: Glad you asked! Graves is a television show.
Q: Why haven’t I heard of it?
A: It’s on Epix, which, like your friendly neighborhood source of steeply discounted electronics, is trying to break into the original #content game. Epix opened with a comedy starring Nick Nolte as an ex-president, and while the bet didn’t initially pay off with critics, with a trade group of 90-something foreign journalists who really like celebrities, anything is possible.
Q: Isn’t “comedy about an ex-president” the plot of the upcoming sixth season of Veep?
A: It is, but to be fair, Graves got there first.
Q: Is “Nick Nolte, Graves” for best actor in a TV comedy or musical the most Golden Globes–y nomination of this entire group of Golden Globes nominations?
A: No shots to Billy Bob Thornton, but yeah, it totally is.
Winner: The Hourlong Drama
Herman: Drama as a whole is in a less-awesome place than comedy right now, especially when the Globes insist on counting hourlong genre grab bags Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as comedies. (Good for Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom for staying in the mix past their initial nominations/wins, by the way.) This makes the nomination short list for drama considerably, uh, shorter, and opens the category up to even more new blood than we expect from the Globes. A whopping four out of five finalists are freshman series, with only Game of Thrones staying in the mix from years past.
This was especially good news for Westworld, which netted a series nod and two extremely well-deserved acting nominations for Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood. Poor Jeffrey Wright fell victim to the Great Limited Series Streak of 2016, but there’s always next year. Stranger Things and star Winona Ryder, too, started building momentum for the 2017 Emmys. We’ve already covered The Crown and This Is Us. For now, let’s just reiterate that the HFPA is even more vulnerable to outdated British accents and questionably executed ’70s flash backs than you are.
Winner: People You Like but Your Mom Has Never Heard Of
Herman: Like fame and critically acclaimed Amazon productions, this transcends the TV-movie divide. The Golden Globes love to be hip with the kids, which is great for, well, the kids. “Kids” in this case means various cool young folks you (meaning, the internet) have had your eye on for a while but the Olds (meaning, the membership of most awards-bestowing bodies) have not. This includes Issa Rae, inheriting the Gina Rodriguez Memorial Spot for Trendy and Insanely Talented Comedy Actress thanks to her work on Insecure. The label also applies to Riley Keough, who’s more of a pleasant surprise: Where Rae carries the possibility of the Globes honoring someone before the Emmys even have a chance, Keough’s nomination for her exemplary work on The Girlfriend Experience, which aired this spring and was subsequently snubbed by the Academy, reads more doubling back to gently correct the Emmys’ mistakes.
Last but not least is Lily Collins, surprise contender for her work in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply. She’s Phil Collins’s kid, she was in a YA blockbuster magically invisible to anyone over 25, and now, she’s in the same category as Meryl Streep and Annette Bening. The Golden Globes: Anything can happen, especially when it’s shiny and new!