“They say that Heaven is like TV. A perfect little world that doesn’t really need you. And everything there is made of light and the days keep coming. Here they come. Here they come.” – Laurie Anderson
The Globes tossed more than a few surprises into the mix of Oscar season (I for one came in dead last at Gold Derby in my predictions, I hang my head in shame). It was one surprise after another and then Borat. Another surprise and another and then Borat again. And then Borat some more and even yet more Borat.
There is probably no greater example of the two Americas than the side-by-side roll-out of CPAC in Florida with a massive in-person crowd and the Golden Globes’ hybrid show, with masked first responders in the audience and the nominees/winners safe and protected behind the Zoom cameras. These two worlds contrast each other in every way possible, and hate each other with a war-like passion.
Sacha Baron Cohen did just make Globes history for winning twice playing the same character. Other than his and one other political speeches, the show mercifully let its audience off the hook for a change and kept it light and funny and, at times, moving.
Andra Day shot to the top of the list for Best Actress for playing Billie Holiday, brilliantly I might add, in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. She was so surprised she could not catch her breath and, like so many other winners, made sure to thank her co-nominees. Chadwick Boseman became the third posthumous winner, after Peter Finch for Network and Health Ledger for The Dark Knight to win the Globe prior to winning the Oscar.
Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah and Jodie Foster was the lone white winner who took the opportunity to kiss her wife on TV, a history-making moment for Foster fans and the Globes.
Chloe Zhao won Best Director and Nomadland was a bit of a shock win in Best Film — Drama, as many believed The Trial of the Chicago 7 would win Best Drama. I have long believed Nomadland and Zhao had this because it was time to finally award a woman and a woman of color especially in the top prizes, because to many in Hollywood “time’s up.” But I kept hearing how much people liked Chicago 7 more than just about any other movie so it threw a wrench in the works a bit.
That ending isn’t fully written yet. It’s rare to win Picture and Director at the Globes and go on to win the same at the Oscars. That’s usually true. It’s true unless there is a strong motivation to make history, which there most definitely is in this case, regardless of whether Nomadland has the SAG ensemble nomination.
You can’t really compare Nomadland to any movie because the motivations for people voting for it don’t just have to do with the movie itself. Remember, the awards race is always going to be about how much people generally like seeing someone win. And this year, the still-mostly white voters aren’t going to necessarily want to see yet more white people (white men especially) win. That’s been true for all of the critics awards thus far.
New York: First Cow
Los Angeles: Small Axe
National Board of Review: Da 5 Bloods
National Society of Film Critics: Nomadland
I often joke that it’s the year without white men but there are many factors that are contributing to this: the Trump factor, for sure; the way culture on the Left is evolving; and, of course, the Thunderdome — Twitter — making sense of all of it, always at the ready for a hot take which turns into a hashtag and before long a movement. That is why Matt Neglia from Next Best Picture, early on, tweeted that the Globes were off to a good start with two Black winners.
The night, and the nominations overall, are in keeping with this year’s awards theme. First the HFPA had to be publicly shamed for its history of having a lot of people from different countries that mostly have their membership status for life (like the Supreme Court) but no black members in all of their history. They were scolded by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and then three of their members took to the stage to awkwardly apologize. And then they had a night of unprecedented wins by black contenders and no one knew what to do with that.
What every voting body from critics awards to the Oscars wants is good headlines the following day and I imagine the winners last night might give some entertainment writers pause on just how to position their headlines to reflect the night’s wins at the Globes. They could not have been more equitable.
For instance, Andra Day is only the second black actress to win Best Actress in Drama at the Globes in all of their history (Whoopi Goldberg was the first for The Color Purple). Halle Berry is still the only black actress to win Best Actress at the Oscars. There isn’t any way to make your brain agree that this is in any way representative of Hollywood or the country. Chloe Zhao is the first woman of color to win Best Director when, prior to last night, the only woman to win in Best Director at the Globes in their history was Barbra Streisand for Yentl, who did not get a Best Director nomination at the Oscars.
This year’s awards race has been and will continue to be about equity, as opposed to the outdated “equality” which has not produced the kind of effective change that would change the numbers. And in so doing, it will keep up with the general idea of film awards overall in the last couple of decades: good people doing good things. In this case, Hollywood doing something good by making their awards more equitable and allowing more people into their tight circle of success and achievement.
This is definitely the biggest driver in 2021 and has been evident from the beginning of the year, after the many months long protests for Black Lives Matter which has transformed American culture on the Left. It is revolutionary to some, threatening to others, but there is no denying it will define 2021.
That is the main driver, but it isn’t the only one. There are others, like the changing landscape of film delivery: Hulu, Netflix and Amazon all won awards last night, for instance. COVID has shut down real life so we don’t have box office to measure success in any way. It is all one flat line. It is all virtual and if it’s virtual it can be defined any way people want it to be. Box office might come to matter again and that will shift power in a different direction.
Questions that remain:
Andra Day does not have a SAG nomination, so can she still win Best Actress? Jodie Foster also doesn’t have a SAG nomination. Can she win the Oscar? Will Chicago 7 win at the SAG? Or will something else? When your driver is making cultural change and making history, all bets are off in terms of stats. But let’s go through a few anyway.
Here are the winners who won both the Globes in Picture and Director since 2000, the year I started:
2000 – Crouching Tiger (Best Director Globes, Best Director DGA) — Steven Soderbergh, Traffic (Best Director, Oscar) – Gladiator (Best Picture)
2001 – Gosford Park (Globes Director). A Beautiful Mind (DGA/Oscar best Director, Globes/Oscar Best Picture
2002 – Gangs of New York (Globes Director), Chicago (Globes/Oscar Best Picture, DGA Best Director), Roman Polanski (Oscar Best Director)
2003 – Return of the King (Globes/DGAOscar Best Picture, Best Director)
2004 – Million Dollar Baby (Globes/Oscar Best Director, Oscar Best Picture), The Aviator and Sideways (Globes Best Picture)
2005 – Brokeback Mountain (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director, Globes Best Picture), Crash (Oscar Best Picture)
2006 – The Departed (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director/Oscar Best Picture). Babel/Dreamgirls (Globes Best Picture)
2007 – Diving Bell (Globes Best Director), Joel and Ethan Coen (Oscar/DGA Best Director and Best Picture), Atonement/Sweeney Todd (Globes Best Picture)
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director/ Best Picture)
2009 – Avatar (Globes Picture/Director), Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (DGA/Oscar Best Director, Best Picture) — EXPANDED BALLOT
2010 – The Social Network (Globes Picture/Director), Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (DGA/Oscar Best Director, Best Picture)
2011 – The Artist (Globes Picture, DGA/Oscar Best Director, Best Picture), Hugo (Best Director, Globes)
2012 – Argo (Globes Director/Picture, DGA Director, Oscar Picture), Ang Lee, Life of Pi (Oscar Director)
2013 – Gravity (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director), 12 Years a Slave (Globes/Oscar Best Picture)
2014 – Boyhood (Globes Picture/Director), Birdman (DGA/Oscar Best Director, Oscar Best Picture)
2015 – The Revenant (Globes Picture, DGA/Globes/Oscar Best Director), Spotlight (Oscar Best Picture)
2016 – La La Land (Globes Picture, Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director), Moonlight (Globes/Oscar Best Picture)
2017 – The Shape of Water (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director, Oscar Best Picture), Three Billboards/Lady Bird (Globes Picture)
2018 – Roma (Globes/DGA/Oscar Best Director), Green Book (Globes/Oscar Best Picture)
2019 – 1917 (Globes/DGA Best Director, Globes Best Picture), Parasite (Oscar Best Director/Best Picture)
Because Chloe Zhao won both Picture and Director, we only have those stats to rely on, as opposed to what appears to be the most common pattern that Best Director only at the Globes leads to Best Director and sometimes Best Picture at the Oscars:
Million Dollar Baby
La La Land
The Shape of Water
But now we are dealing with films that won both Picture and Director at Globes:
Return of the King+ (SAG ensemble win)
Brokeback Mountain* (SAG ensemble nom)
Slumdog Millionaire+ (SAG ensemble win)
The Social Network* (SAG ensemble nom)
Argo+ (SAG ensemble win)
Boyhood* (SAG ensemble nom)
La La Land*
There are, by my count, only two films that have won both Picture and Director at the Globes and then went on to win Picture and Director at the Oscars since 2000 and they were:
Return of the King (Globes/PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble)
Slumdog Millionaire (Globes/PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble)
Nomadland doesn’t have SAG ensemble. The films that won Best Picture/Best Director at the Globes and just won Best Picture at the Oscars:
Argo (Globes/PGA/DGA/SAG ensemble)
Why all of this matters is that there has to be a driver bigger than just the film itself. What is motivating people to pull the lever on a certain movie? With ROTK and Slumdog it was a no-brainer. They rolled through awards season like juggernauts, winning everything in their path. Slumdog Millionaire was such a predictable winner it soured my friend David Carr on the awards race forever.
Nomadland will already be making history by becoming the first film directed by a woman of color to win Best Picture and Best Director. It will also be the first film written and directed by a woman to win Best Picture (Kathryn Bigelow did not write The Hurt Locker). And finally, it should go without saying that it will be the first film written/directed and EDITED by a woman, the same person, to win. Joel and Ethan Coen won for writing and directing No Country for Old Men, which they also edited.
Given everything covered here so far, I see no reason why Nomadland won’t ride the horse all the way to the finish line. It’s a tough sell to beat making history, even if the movie itself is liked more. Not impossible but hard to imagine by this point.
But remember: what wins is what people are going to feel good about seeing win, both the night of and how they will define their own image when they celebrate it. Given all of that, we have to assume people will feel happy and hopeful to see Chloe Zhao win.
I would caution one thing: without that SAG ensemble nomination, or win, that does present a situation that could lead to a potential Best Picture upset. That would then kick it over to Minari or Chicago 7. I don’t particularly see this as happening but that pesky SAG and the actors overall always matter.
It’s not over yet, friends. We’ll do the acting categories in a day or two.