In a drastic shift, the Golden Globes nominations prefer the young over the venerable

Hailee Steinfeld
Golden Globe nominee Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine Byrd in a scene from the movie “The Edge of Seventeen,” directed by Kelly Fremon Craig.
(STX Entertainment/TNS)

Between the two of them, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese have 23 Golden Globe nominations.

With “Sully” and “Silence,” they also have a couple of the most buzzed-about movies of the year.

Yet when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced its annual nominations Monday morning, both films were completely shut out.

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Instead, the group went with movies from a more upstart field for its 74th ceremony on Jan. 8th — including “Moonlight,” “Lion,” Hell or High Water,” “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Manchester by the Sea” in its best picture/drama category.

The directors of all of those movies had previously combined for just four Golden Globe nominations — and three of those were for “Hacksaw” helmer Mel Gibson.

The Globes is long known for returning to familiar wells. It’s how Meryl Streep has 30 nominations and eight wins all by herself. HFPA members tend to stay relatively static (there aren’t a lot of incoming or exiting members in a given year) and voters tend to develop relationships with faces on-screen, if not in real life.

It wouldn’t be the Golden Globes without some curve balls, and the nominations announcement Monday morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association offered several.


But perhaps hoping to end up with some of the fresher nominees the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has aimed for by inviting younger members — or maybe because it simply tired of veterans’ work — the HFPA made a decided effort to move away from the tried and true.

In the most striking example, Warren Beatty’s long-awaited comeback, “Rules Don’t Apply,” was almost completely blanked. That included no nomination for the 79-year-old hyphenate even in the actor in a comedy/musical category, where he was heavily predicted to earn a slot for playing Hollywood titan Howard Hughes — and despite the fact that he has six previous Golden Globes wins.

The one nominee the film did manage? The 27-year-old Lily Collins, who nabbed a spot for lead actress in a comedy/musical. 

Nor was Beatty the only veteran edged out of a place in a comedy/musical category. Robert De Niro, a 10-time Golden Globe nominee as well a recipient of its Cecil B. DeMille Award, was nowhere to be found, even though the 73-year-old has earned laurels for his turn as an aging stand-up in “The Comedian.”

Instead of the two legends, the category was filled with the likes of  “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds, a first-time nominee who just turned 40 in October, and Jonah Hill, the 32-year-old comic actor who wasn’t anywhere near most awards forecasters’ lists for his turn in the barely remembered summer arms-smuggling picture “War Dogs.”

“Deadpool,” incidentally, also was nominated for best comedy/musical, one of the biggest mass-culture phenomena ever to be included in the category.

The Globes have historically liked the new and shiny on the television side. In part because of when it falls in the calendar, the ceremony has historically been among the first to honor upstart series such as “Transparent,” “Mr. Robot” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which then have gone on to Emmy and other recognition.

That trend appears to be holding true — four out of the Globes’ five best drama nominees are freshman series (“Westworld,” “This Is Us,” “The Crown” and “Stranger Things”), and Donald Glover’s first-year FX show, “Atlanta,” picked up a nomination for best comedy/musical.


But when it comes to film, the HFPA tends to like its comfort-food  nominees — which is how actors like Tom Hanks have scored eight nominations over the years, not just for expected fare like “Cast Away” and “Philadelphia” but less obvious contenders such as “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Yet Hanks also came away empty-handed Monday morning. Despite a thin year for lead actors in a drama, he couldn’t muster a nomination for his role as a courageous real-life pilot in “Sully.”

The Eastwood film has grossed more than $200 million around the world and is considered a contender in multiple categories at the Oscars. Ditto for “Silence,” Scorsese’s rigorous look at faith that has been garnering strong word-of-mouth since it began screening for tastemakers almost two weeks ago.

But the 74-year-old filmmaker failed to land a nomination in the directing category for his passion project, yielding to first-timers Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), each still in their 30s.

The HFPA is made up of a very small group of people — about 80 foreign journalists with little day-to-day involvement in the creation of movies. So it’s regarded as folly to read too much significance into any one choice; the sample size of voters is simply too small, the idiosyncrasy of voting preferences too great.

Still, taken as a whole, the Globes ballot suggests a larger impulse, perhaps one that’s cultural as much as technical. The nominations Monday echo a Grammys trend last week in which records from relative newcomers like Justin Bieber (“Purpose”) beat out longtime favorites such as David Bowie (“Blackstar”) for album of the year nominations.

Awards shows have long tangled with a dilemma. As a venue for industry recognition, they tend to value dues-paying — rewarding personalities who have put together a long body of work and earned industry goodwill. But the shows also rely for income on a television world that tends to favor, particularly in its advertising dollars, younger viewers and newer talent.

The film academy, which oversees the Oscars, is among those grappling with this challenge. In the last few years, for reasons that of course went beyond television viewership, it began inviting waves of newer and comparatively younger members, and it could begin to see some shifts in voting and viewer numbers (last year saw an eight-year low) as a result.


Ratings have been falling for the Globes too. This year, the NBC telecast was down 5% in the all-important 18-49 demographic. Whether part of a conscious plan or not, the presence of younger nominees could arrest that slide.

In few places will the help be as evident as lead actress in a comedy/musical. Nominees Monday were heavily youthful, with Emma Stone from “La La Land” and Hailee Steinfeld from the teen seriocomedy “The Edge of Seventeen” joining Collins on the short list. Steinfeld, an upset choice of sorts, just exited her teenage years — she turned 20 on Sunday. The median age in her category was 28. Last year it was 45.

(Streep, it should be noted, also landed a nomination for lead actress in a comedy/musical, for her turn as a real-life shaky soprano in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Some things don’t change.)

In general, that was the pattern across acting categories, with one or two veterans popping up amid a larger group of fresher faces. In supporting male, three of the five nominees (Dev Patel, Simon Helberg and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) were all under 40, while a fourth, ”Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali, was a heretofore unknown actor barely above it.

That will lead to a scenario in which some of the most familiar Hollywood faces are absent from the winner circle.

Then again, some older actors may be ready to give up the mantle.

“Jonah Hill is probably the busiest actor on the planet,” Hanks recently said to The Times’ Glenn Whipp. “He was great in ‘War Dogs.’ I can never take my eyes off him.” The HFPA and NBC can only hope a lot of other people feel the same way.

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On Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT


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