Golden Globe nominations 2021: TV, film snubs and surprises

John David Washington and Zendaya touching faces in "Malcolm & Marie."
John David Washington and Zendaya in “Malcolm & Marie.” Zendaya was snubbed for her acclaimed turn.
(Dominic Miller / Netflix)

The Golden Globes divides its movie categories between drama and comedy/musical, leading to a surplus of contenders and the ability for horrible movies like “Burlesque” to promote themselves as (god help us) best picture nominees.

On the television side, unlike the Emmys, the voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. like to constantly shake things up, turning their TV nominations into a grab-bag of random slights and citations. (“Game of Thrones” never won for drama series, and one year actually lost to “The Affair.”)

So, yes, there are surprises. And omissions too, even with the excessive number of nominations. For the sake of alliteration, we’ll call these omissions “snubs,” though they’re probably not personal … unless some star declined to pose for pictures with each and every HFPA member, as is the custom with this group. Then, well, it’s still not a snub. It’s revenge.

Who’s up, who’s down, who’s in, who’s out this year? Let’s take a look.

SNUB: Every Black-led ensemble film (in the motion picture drama category)

In a year sporting four excellent Black-led ensembles — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “One Night in Miami” and “Da 5 Bloods” — the HFPA couldn’t find room for any of them in the top film category. Not one. Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was completely shut out, in fact, which might make the filmmaker reconsider having his kids, Jackson and Satchel, serve as this year’s Golden Globe Ambassadors.


SNUB: No “Minari” acting nominations

Bad enough that the HFPA consigned Lee Isaac Chung’s moving immigrant drama to the foreign language category for questionable reasons (and failed to include it in either the writing or directing races). But to not recognize any of its actors — Yuh-Jung Youn’s turn as the loving, eccentric grandmother has won dozens of critics group prizes — ranks as one of the group’s biggest oversights of the day. (And there were many.)

SURPRISE: Those “The Mauritanian” acting nominations

Critics haven’t embraced Kevin Macdonald’s well-intentioned drama, based on the best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary,” but the HFPA loved it enough to nominate stars Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster. The recognition might prod Oscar voters into giving it a look.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. failed to nominate the HBO limited series, praised for its deft handling of sexual assault, or its creator/star.

Feb. 3, 2021

SURPRISE: “Promising Young Woman” (motion picture drama)

Focus Features submitted Emerald Fennell’s revenge thriller as a comedy, but the HFPA wasn’t laughing, moving it to drama. But voters liked it enough to reward it not only here — and with more expected nominations for lead actress Carey Mulligan and the screenplay — but also give Fennell a nod for director.


SNUB: Meryl Streep (lead actress comedy/musical, “The Prom” and “Let Them All Talk”)

The HFPA has nominated Streep 32 (!) times over the years, but ignored her this year for her lead turns in “The Prom” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Let Them All Talk.” That alone might sting. Nominating her “Prom” date Corden adds insult to injury.

SURPRISE: Kate Hudson, (lead actress comedy/musical, “Music”)

This had to be for the buzzcut, because Sia’s directorial debut was an absolute mess. And they nominated it for best picture! The “Burlesque” wing of the HFPA lives!

SURPRISE: “Hamilton” (motion picture comedy/musical)

Not a surprise that it made it in … just that it qualified in the first place. The filmed version of a stage performance is not a movie. But whatevs. Raise a glass to freedom! And better ratings for the ceremony!


SNUB: “News of the World” (motion picture drama)

You’d think that an old-fashioned Western starring an old-fashioned movie star would have done better with these voters, many of whom thrilled to John Ford’s “Stagecoach” when it premiered in 1939.

SURPRISE: “The Father” (motion picture drama)

This brutal portrait of the man losing his mind has been doing OK with critics groups, particularly for Anthony Hopkins’ devastating lead turn. This nomination boosts its profile as it (finally) nears its late February release.

SNUB: Zendaya (lead actress, motion picture drama, “Malcolm & Marie”)

The “white lady from the L.A. Times” approves this slight, though Zendaya’s acclaimed turn was the good thing about the movie.


SURPRISE: James Corden (lead actor, motion picture comedy/musical, “The Prom”)

The only possible explanation for rewarding this career-worst performance (and Corden was in “Cats”!) is that the HFPA wants him to host the ceremony next year. In which case, good for him, and please tell us how that goes because we won’t be watching.

SNUB: Kemp Powers (screenplay, “Soul” and “One Night in Miami”)

No screenwriter had a better year than Powers, who adapted his own play, “One Night in Miami,” and co-wrote the bold, beautiful Pixar masterpiece “Soul.” He’ll probably earn Oscar nominations for both movies, making the HFPA’s slight seem all the more ridiculous.

SURPRISE: “Ozark” (TV series, drama)

Three years in, HFPA voters finally relented and nominated this overrated, overheated Netflix series because, we suppose, “Succession” had to postpone production and isn’t eligible, and nominating “Perry Mason” would have been even worse.

SNUB: “I May Destroy You” (limited series and lead actress)


We suspected Michaela Coel’s pop culture sensation, which aired on HBO in the U.S., might be overlooked, as the limited series competition is brutal. But to be completely blanked? The Emmys will have to clean up this mess.

SURPRISE: “Schitt’s Creek” (TV series, comedy)

We can’t completely dismiss the HFPA’s taste in comedy since, unlike the television academy, it had the good sense to reward “Atlanta” for one of its two brilliant seasons. And, now, finally, six seasons in, comes the first recognition for the sunny “Schitt’s Creek.” Better late than never, especially if it means the cast will reunite remotely for the ceremony.

SURPRISE: Al Pacino (lead actor, TV drama, “Hunters”)

The divisive Amazon series has flown under the awards radar, but leave it to the Globes to single out a big name.