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Golden Globes 2021: Netflix leads studios in a stuck-at-home year with 10 wins

Diana, Princess of Wales (Emma Corrin) in the fourth season of "The Crown."
Diana, Princess of Wales (Emma Corrin) in the fourth season of “The Crown.”
(Des Willie / Netflix)

Netflix led the studios and networks in wins at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, a fitting coda to a year when streaming dominated the entertainment industry conversation, as much of the audience was stuck at home.

The awards ceremony was broadcast on NBC under a cloud of controversy after a Los Angeles Times investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the group that presents the prizes.

Los Gatos-based Netflix scored 10 wins in all for shows and movies including “The Crown,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7" and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

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“The Crown,” squarely in the HFPA’s wheelhouse of glamorous British fare, won four awards including best drama series. The acclaimed historical program’s fourth season also cleaned up in acting categories, winning for dramatic actress (Emma Corrin as Princess Diana), actor (Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles) and supporting actress (Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher).

Netflix’s popular chess champion series “The Queen’s Gambit” won for limited series and best actress in a limited series (Anya Taylor-Joy for her starring role).

In film, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which moved to Netflix from ViacomCBS’ Paramount Pictures during the pandemic, won for screenplay (Aaron Sorkin).

Best dramatic film actor went to the late Chadwick Boseman for his part in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Boseman, most famous for playing the title character in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” died of colon cancer in August at 43.

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Additionally, British actress Rosamund Pike won best comedy actress for the con-artist film “I Care A Lot.”

Time’s Up sends letters to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and NBCUniversal telling it that statements made at Sunday’s Golden Globes weren’t enough.

But the top prize of the night — best film drama — went to a traditional distributor, Walt Disney Co.'s Searchlight Pictures, which emerged victorious with Chloé Zhao’s film “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand. It beat Netflix’s David Fincher film “Mank,” which had the most nominations of any motion picture but came away with no wins.

“Nomadland,” which premiered this month simultaneously in theaters and on Disney-owned streamer Hulu, also won best director for Zhao.

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Disney ended up the second winningest company overall with five awards, thanks to “Nomadland” and two very different jazz-themed movies. Hulu’s “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” won best dramatic actress (Andra Day), and Disney’s Pixar won two awards for its jazz afterlife parable “Soul,” earning best animated feature and original score.

Netflix came into the ceremony with a total of 42 nominations, far more than any other distributor this year. The streamer scored 22 nominations for films, while securing 20 kudos for series.

Streaming shows and movies did well in a year when in-person entertainment options were limited because of the novel coronavirus. Theaters were closed in parts of the country for much of the year, studios delayed many of their major releases or sold them to direct-to-consumer apps, and media companies funneled many of their best series to a la carte platforms.

The COVID-19 pandemic handed Netflix and other streamers another advantage as traditional studios mostly held back their biggest and best movies while theaters remained closed in key markets such as Los Angeles and New York.

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It was a good night for streamers other than Netflix.

Amazon Prime Video scored three victories including best comedy film for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which also won Sacha Baron-Cohen the award for comedy actor; while TV supporting actor went to John Boyega for his role in Steve McQueen’s anthology “Small Axe.”

Apple TV+ notched a win for its feel-good sports comedy “Ted Lasso,” for which Jason Sudeikis won for comedy actor.

Among the traditional distributors, AT&T-owned Warner Bros. snatched a prize for its film “Judas and the Black Messiah,” which debuted on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. Daniel Kaluuya earned supporting actor for playing Illinois-chapter Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton.

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Indie distributor A24 took home the award for foreign language film with “Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung’s tale of a Korean American immigrant family that moves to a rural farm in the 1980s. Though the film is American, it was controversially placed in the Globes’ foreign language category because of HFPA rules.

Burbank-based studio STX Entertainment nabbed a win for its political-legal drama “The Mauritanian,” for which Jodie Foster won best supporting actress.

American drama “Minari” wins the best foreign language film Golden Globe over contenders from Denmark, France, Guatemala and Italy.

The Golden Globes can boost the prestige of the nominated shows, movies, networks and studios, and they can draw more attention to little-known productions, such as “The Mauritanian.” They’re still seen as a precursor to the Oscars, even in a highly unusual awards season like this year’s.

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But the impact may be dampened during a year that lacked major blockbusters. Many of the nominated movies, like “Mank,” “Nomadland” and “The Father,” are relatively obscure. The scarcity of high-profile films and the idiosyncrasies of producing a live event during a pandemic means viewership of the telecast is widely expected to fall at a time when live TV ratings are broadly declining.

The awards were also doled out under renewed scrutiny of the HFPA, an 87-person nonprofit made up of international entertainment journalists. A Los Angeles Times investigation raised fresh allegations of ethical lapses and self dealing within the organization, revealing payments made to members for activities including serving on committees. HFPA said in response that its payments were “vetted by a professional nonprofit compensation consultant and outside counsel, where appropriate.”

The nominations this year included headscratchers including “Emily in Paris,” which was up for best TV comedy or musical despite middling reviews. In 2019, more than 30 HFPA members were treated by the group to a two-night stay at a five-star French hotel to visit the set of the show, The Times reported. “Emily in Paris” lost to CBC/Pop TV comedy series “Schitt’s Creek,” which won two awards, total.

The Times investigation also revealed that HFPA has no Black voters, prompting the organization to issue a statement to The Times promising an “action plan” to achieve goals of bringing in Black members. The nonprofit faced further criticism for this year’s slate of nominations, which did not include several Black-led Oscar contenders such as “Da 5 Bloods,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” in the nominees for the group’s top award.

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Groups including Time’s Up and industry luminaries such as Ava DuVernay, J.J. Abrams and Ellen Pompeo criticized the HFPA following The Times’ investigation. The HFPA briefly addressed the lack of Black members during the ceremony, in which the group’s leadership gave a speech that lasted less than one minute.


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