clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Winners and Losers of the 2020 Golden Globes Nominations

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has once again come through with a list of nominees that is both star-studded and intermittently absurd

Ringer illustration

Just as awards shows themselves declare the winners and losers of the year in film and television, so do websites like this one declare the winners and losers of awards shows. This time, it’s for the Golden Globes, the quirky, messy, more free-spirited younger sibling of the Oscars. The Ringer’s Alison Herman and Miles Surrey sort through who’s up, who got left out in the cold, and what this all means for the big(ger) show in February.


Winner: The HFPA

Catch-22! Knives Out! Booksmart! The Golden Globes are undeniably the most chaotic awards show, featuring drunk celebrities mugging and stumbling their way through an objectively low-consequence event. But the tone is set by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s slate of nominations, always a baffling grab bag of blatant sucking up to famous people (congrats to up-and-comer Beyoncé on the Best Original Song nod!) and wildly specific results due to the HFPA’s minuscule sample size (those guys really love The Kominsky Method!). The combination yields the best of both worlds: The stakes make it hard to resent the snubs and poor picks, while the randomness always yields a few pleasant surprises. When They See Us, Watchmen, and Jeremy Strong can console themselves with the pride of a job well done. Meanwhile, maybe the HFPA has too little experience with Southern accents to know just how over-the-top Craig’s was in Knives Out, or maybe the over-the-topness was the draw. Either way, congrats to him, Catch-22 star and executive producer George Clooney, and Beanie Feldstein, who deserves the world. —Alison Herman

Winner: Joker’s Oscar Chances

Joker officially became a legitimate Oscars play in September, when it won the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival. Since then, the film has inspired so many memes and a regrettable number of hot takes, and grossed more than a billion dollars at the box office. But if you were hoping the Joker discourse would dissipate as other movies stole some of its buzz—sort of like how the A Star Is Born hype train died by the time the Oscars arrived last awards season—sadly, the Golden Globes had other ideas. Joker nabbed four nominations—for Best Original Score, Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance (in a motion picture–drama), Todd Phillips for Best Director, and Best Motion Picture–Drama—all of which portend to more awards-season love in the coming months.

Phoenix’s nomination is perhaps the least surprising—the one thing everyone might agree on is that he gives a really committed performance and is an obvious front-runner—and a Best Motion Picture nod is somewhat tempered by the fact potential Oscar nominees at the Globes can be split between drama and musical/comedy sections. (Also, if I’m being honest, Hildur Gudnadottir’s Joker score did slap.) But seeing Phillips sneak into Best Director ahead of buzzy auteurs like Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and Greta Gerwig (Little Women) is the most compelling evidence of Joker’s staying power this awards season. We live in a society—one where Joker could be a legitimate player at the Oscars. —Miles Surrey

Loser: Tim Allen’s Accent Jokes

A tip for freelancers and gig-economy workers the world over: When your paycheck is coming from an organization with “foreign” in its name, leave the accent material at home, and let it stay there for the rest of eternity. The star of Last Man Standing somehow found time between lightning-speed line readings to mock the HFPA president’s pronunciation of his name, call attention to his zesty pronunciation of Les Misérables, and otherwise point out the wacky strangeness of people from other places making notable works of art. Read the room, man—“the room” meaning both the literal physical space and the culture at large! —Herman

Winner: Parasite

Parasite is one of the most heralded foreign films in recent memory, elevated by more excellent work from director Bong Joon-ho and a prescient narrative of class warfare. And while the film couldn’t compete in either best-picture category—there is a separate Foreign Language Film category, and unlike the Oscars, the Globes don’t let foreign films cross over—it was eligible to stand against its peers in other categories. The result: Best Director and Best Screenplay nominations for Bong (he cowrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won) to go along with Best Foreign Language Film, where it’s the clear front-runner.

The #BongHive has been buzzing for months, and if the Globes are any indication, Parasite still has plenty of momentum heading into the Oscars, where it could—somehow; seriously, how has this not happened before?—become the first Korean film to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. This is awesome news; the only bummer is that “Jessica, Only Child” can’t be considered for Best Original Song. (No offense, but Jessica’s rap is definitely better than whatever the cats sing in Cats.) —Surrey

Loser: Game of Thrones

While Harington squeezed into the Best Actor race, he was the only representative for Thrones’ final season. Usually, the problem with the Globes is that they tend to favor shows with lots of star power (see: Big Little Lies, The Morning Show), and, on those merits, Thrones seemed like an obvious contender by virtue of being one of the most popular shows in television history. But we have to give credit where it’s due for the HFPA: It didn’t fall for the Thrones hype in the same way the Emmys did in September.

That last season was viewed as a massive disappointment by most fans, disillusioned by years of White Walker build-up amounting to one (literally) dark battle, and Bran Stark sitting on the Iron Throne because he was deemed to have the “best story.” (Really, I could keep going about the problems with late-era Thrones.) The Globes would’ve been one of the final chances to celebrate Thrones on the big stage, but after Monday’s nominations, there will be only one last look at Harington’s handsome, perpetually mopey face. —Surrey

Winner: Buying Your Way to Prestige

Who knows what the members of the HFPA actually think of The Morning Show—but they sure like the idea of Jennifer Aniston at their party, and ultimately that’s what matters to Apple TV+. After just over a month on the marketplace, the streaming service already has its first taste of awards recognition, with its (often bad, often deliriously so-bad-its-good) flagship drama earning dual nods in the Lead Actress, Drama category as well as an overall nomination for the show. This is surely what Apple’s executives envisioned when they chose a Big Little Lies–style celebrity vehicle for the service’s highest-profile launch; and tellingly, Reese Witherspoon got an invite for her work on The Morning Show rather than Lies, which was in contention in the same category. The HFPA has now validated Apple’s entire approach in a way critics thus far have not, and viewers don’t seem to be. Thus are the advantages of concentrating one’s lobbying efforts on an organization with membership in the double digits. Apple managed to score a new infusion of PR for a watchable yet far-from-perfect show about a human being named Bradley Jackson who really loves the news. All it cost the company was $20 million for each nominated performance. —Herman

Winner: Netflix

Last year, Roma’s relative solitude on Netflix’s awards slate made the movie an unfair lightning rod for various awards bodies’ streaming anxieties. If the HFPA is any indication, the jitters have worn off this year, in part because Netflix’s offerings are robust enough that no one movie or show will become a scapegoat. On the film side, Marriage Story led all movies with six nominations, while The Irishman also had a predictably strong showing, Eddie Murphy’s work in Dolemite Is My Name was justly recognized, and The Two Popes, about two iconic British thespians just hangin’ out, made for the most on-brand, “Globes gonna Globes” pick. In TV, The Kominsky Method, The Crown, and Unbelievable all cleaned up, while The Politician proved Ryan Murphy is officially famous enough to merit a bump from the HFPA’s policy of grading celebrities on a curve. With The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag in its arsenal, Amazon is hardly hurting, but there’s also no doubt who won this particular round of the Streaming Wars. —Herman

Loser: When They See Us

The biggest exception to Netflix’s big morning was Ava DuVernay’s four-part miniseries about the Central Park Five, which suffered a steep fall from its 16 Emmy nominations with a total Globes shutout. It’s possible to read into these tea leaves: Maybe the HFPA felt When They See Us already got its due at the Emmys, where Jharrel Jerome gave one of the night’s most endearing speeches; maybe Unbelievable inadvertently took all the Netflix slots in the Limited Series category; maybe the subject matter was too painful and specifically American for an international voting body that tends to favor more uplifting stories. Sometimes, though, there isn’t a reason, just an oversight. Apologies to When They See Us, a fine piece of work that doesn’t need the HFPA’s validation. —Herman

Loser: Jeremy Strong

Whether you love or hate Succession’s Kendall Roy—he is my Techno Gatsby, my Hypebeast Baby Yoda, and I will protect him to the ends of the earth—it’s hard to deny that Jeremy Strong gave one of the most impressive performances of the year. As Kendall, Strong wore decades of psychological abuse in his unbearably sad eyes and was surprisingly not-terrible at rapping about how much he loves his dad when he was in the right mood. (It was lyrics like “since I stan dad I’m alive and well” that made you want to curl up in a corner and die.)

But while Succession emerged as a Globes hit this year, securing nominations for Best Television Series–Drama, as well as acting nods for Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin, that love somehow didn’t extend to Strong. Instead, the Globes felt it was necessary to nominate Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington in Best Actor in a TV Series–Drama, for a season even he’ll admit was disappointing. This is a genuine travesty—though it’s sadly on brand that the tremendous actor playing Kendall was overlooked and overshadowed by the (also great) performers playing his relatives. By the way, all of these sentiments also apply to the Globes’ ignoring Sarah Snook’s Shiv Roy—an equally egregious slight for an excellent and layered performance. Basically, if the Globes simply nominate the entire cast of Succession in the future, I don’t think we’ll have a problem. I want to see Cousin Greg and Kendall win Globes and then awkwardly celebrate on a private jet (Cousin Greg will vomit in the middle of bad turbulence). —Surrey

Winner: Old Guys

The Globes’ love of star power also extends to some of the more [clears throat] senior players toiling through awards season. (The HFPA members are apparently the only people in the world who watch The Kominsky Method, which is great news for Netflix.) There is no category that epitomizes this more than Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, where Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) is the most youthful nominee at the ripe age of 55. His category is rounded out by Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; 63 years old), Al Pacino (The Irishman; 79), Joe Pesci (The Irishman; 76), and Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes; 81).

It’s not a knock against any of the performances—I haven’t seen The Two Popes, but everyone else put in some of the best work of their career in their respective films—but it is indicative of the kind of content the HFPA will lean toward. (Now is a good time to also note that only three nonwhite actors secured Globes nominations this year.) The Best Supporting Actor category is a fun one, and it’s gonna be competitive as hell. It’s also just incredible that the category’s median age—70.8 years old—makes it eligible for retirement. —Surrey