golden globes 2021

Who Should (and Will) Win at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards?

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The Crown are both Globes front-runners, but under very different circumstances. Photo-Illustration: Vulture, Netflix and Amazon Studios

Let’s be honest: Every year is kind of a weird year for the Golden Globes. Relative to other awards shows, the Globes are boozier, more random, more GIF-able, and proud of it. But this year is extra-extra weird.

The ceremony, to be broadcast Sunday night on NBC, is being held in a pandemic, which means Tina Fey will be co-hosting from New York, Amy Poehler will be co-hosting from Los Angeles, and presenters will appear in person but nominees won’t. There will not be a red carpet, but E! and NBC will still host pre-shows featuring celebrity interviews. And on top of that weirdness, just a few days before the Golden Globes, an L.A. Times story called out the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for all kinds of shadiness, giving the event even more of a “Why does this even matter?” vibe than usual.

And yet the Globes will go on, and therefore we at Vulture are making predictions about who and what will win, with Nate Jones handling the prognostication on the film side and Jen Chaney making educated guesses about this year’s TV winners.


Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Best Motion Picture — Drama

The Father
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

With a lineup of presumptive Best Picture contenders, this will be the most anticipated matchup of the night. The Globes have a reputation for attempting to predict the eventual Oscar winner here, though with 1917 and Bohemian Rhapsody they’ve recently gone for splashy picks that upended conventional wisdom. For that reason, we shouldn’t rule out Mank, the nominations leader, or even Promising Young Woman, a buzzy dramedy that feels of a piece with previous winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. However, the smart money is still on one of our two early front-runners, Nomadland or Chicago 7, to prevail. Of those, I’m going to venture that the power of Aaron Sorkin, a longtime HFPA fave, will propel Chicago 7 to victory over the more muted Nomadland.

Should win: Nomadland
Will win: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian

In the acting races, the Globes like to cement a sense of inevitability: You have to go back to 2017 to find the last time they snubbed a performer who would go on to win the Oscar. (It was Mahershala Ali, who lost to Nocturnal Animals’ Aaron Taylor-Johnson in an upset that still boggles the mind a full presidential term later.) While some voters this year may be inclined to hand Hopkins his first-ever Golden Globe, I suspect the opportunity to turn the ignition on the Chadwick Boseman steamroller will be too good to pass up.

Should win: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Will win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

The Best Actress race feels like a three-way contest between Davis, McDormand, and Mulligan, and because the HFPA decided to slot Promising Young Woman in Drama, the trio are competing against each other here. Everything’s lined up for the Globes to put their stamp on the category, and I expect they’ll prefer to reward a new face over two past winners. They’ll go with Mulligan, and thereby crown the British ingenue our new Oscar front-runner.

Should win: Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Will win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Palm Springs
The Prom

When all the major Oscar players run in Drama, the Musical/Comedy categories become the Globes’ own Star Wars cantina, a wretched hive of scum, villainy, and filmed performances of Broadway musicals the HFPA nominated seemingly just to prove they could. I suppose that makes the scruffily charming Palm Springs the Han Solo of this metaphor, which should be fine consolation when the trophy goes instead to the only nominee with the winning combination of Oscar buzz and political heft. Astoundingly enough, that’s Borat.

Should win: Palm Springs
Will win: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
James Corden, The Prom
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Dev Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield
Andy Samberg, Palm Springs

This feels like one of the night’s easier picks. Baron Cohen won this award for the original Borat, and with no other heavyweights in the race, he’ll be up there saying “Dziękuję” again.

Should win: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Will win: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Kate Hudson, Music
Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot
Anya Taylor-Joy, Emma.

Once Meryl Streep didn’t get nominated for The Prom, this race got easier to predict. The Globes thought enough of Bakalova to bump her up to Lead (she’s running in Supporting everywhere else), and the Bulgarian breakout feels like the kind of winner voters will want to see at the podium.

Should win: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Will win: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Jared Leto, The Little Things
Bill Murray, On the Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami

Does the HFPA love Baron Cohen enough to give him two trophies in one night, something only four other actors have managed? It’s possible, but with the comedian and Chicago 7 also expected to show up elsewhere, this category is ripe for a surprise. But maybe not the good kind of surprise. In trying to prepare myself emotionally for the possibility of a Jared Leto win, I wound up accidentally convincing myself that it was certain to happen. A Leto upset would be a perfect storm of name recognition, behind-the-scenes campaigning, and utter insanity — in other words, the perfect Globes pick.

Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Will win: Jared Leto, The Little Things

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Helena Zengel, News of the World

I can’t help thinking about how the Globes probably thought they were priming their girl Glenn Close for her long-awaited Academy Award when they gave her Best Actress in a Drama for The Wife two years ago … only for Colman, the Musical/Comedy winner, to snatch the trophy on Oscar night. As fate would have it, they’ve now got the chance to magnanimously hand the Academy a do-over.

Should win: Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Will win: Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Best Director — Motion Picture

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Regina King, One Night in Miami
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

With Mank leading the field in nominations, and Nomadland seeming perhaps not a quintessential Globes movie, a lot of pundits are pegging Fincher to steal this. But I keep coming back to the fact that the HFPA liked Nomadland enough to give it a Screenplay nom when, if they hadn’t, they probably could have gotten away with snubbing it there. I think Zhao is on track to continue her winning streak.

Should win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Will win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture

The Father
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

How much do the Globes love Aaron Sorkin? So much that they gave him this award for Steve Jobs when the film itself wasn’t nominated for the top prize. This is Chicago 7’s safest win of the night.

Should win: Mank
Will win: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Motion Picture — Foreign Language

Another Round
La Llorona
The Life Ahead
Two of Us

The Globes got in hot water when they categorized Minari as a foreign-language film, rather than a drama, and on nomination morning they followed it up by snubbing the movie in every other category. Many theorize they’ll choose to make it up to Minari by handing it this trophy, but I’m skeptical — it seems they just didn’t like it. Another Round, the Danish binge-drinking dramedy that ends with a killer dance sequence, seems more HFPA’s speed.

Should win: Minari
Will win: Another Round

Best Motion Picture — Animated

The Croods: A New Age
Over the Moon

Pixar is on something of a cold streak in this category, which for them just means they haven’t won since Coco. But while the Irish fantasy Wolfwalkers is a trendy dark-horse pick, I don’t know if its cult is big enough to pull off a Spider-Verse. Let’s go chalk with Soul, which just so happens to feature the voice of Globes co-host Tina Fey.

Should win: Soul
Will win: Soul

Best Song

“Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Io sì,” The Life Ahead
“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami
“Tigress & Tweed,” The United States vs. Billie Holiday

The Globes have an even more mixed track record in Song than the Academy, having passed over “Remember Me” and “Let It Go” in favor of a Greatest Showman track and a U2 song, respectively. While I suspect “Speak Now” will have the advantage at the Oscars, the HFPA’s taste leads me to predict they’ll go instead with “Io sì,” a big hook-y Diane Warren power ballad — in Italian!

Should win: The bizarrely snubbed “Húsavík” from Eurovision
Will win: “Io sì,” The Life Ahead

Best Original Score — Motion Picture

The Midnight Sky
News of the World

Two chances for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who were nominated alongside Jon Batiste for Soul and by themselves for Mank. As luck would have it, they’re also our front-runners. Soul comes in having won most of the precursors so far, but Mank’s score has the monumental sweep that voters tend to favor, and provides a way for David Fincher’s film not to go home empty-handed.

Should win: Soul
Will win: Mank


Photo: Apple TV+

Best Television Series — Drama

The Crown
Lovecraft Country
The Mandalorian

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is an unpredictable bunch, and they’re at their least predictable when it comes to television. That said, the voters tend to veer more toward the new and unexpected in the Comedy category than they do with Drama. Which is why I think The Crown, which has one previous Golden Globe in this category to its credit, will likely win for its compelling, conversation-generating season that focused on Charles and Di.

Should win: The Crown
Will win: The Crown

Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy

Emily in Paris
The Flight Attendant
The Great
Schitt’s Creek
Ted Lasso

Schitt’s Creek cleaned up at the Emmys, but the Globes have paid it no attention until this year. If they reward the series, they will appear to be following the lead of the Emmys, and the HFPA hate to look like they are following the lead of the Emmys. In the interest of giving the Globe to something fresh, an HFPA tradition, I think The Flight Attendant, The Great, or Ted Lasso could win. I’m really torn about which will prevail because I’m not sure international critics responded to Ted Lasso the same way that Americans have. But I’m going to assume that optimism — and home-baked biscuits — will win the day.

Should win: Anything but Emily in Paris, which I enjoyed as a frothy lark, but come on.
Will win: Ted Lasso

Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Normal People
The Queen’s Gambit
Small Axe
The Undoing

The real winner here should be I May Destroy You, but the HFPA didn’t even bother nominating it. That said, all of these are worthy nominees. I could see Small Axe winning, but the fact that it straddles the line between film and TV may dissuade some from voting for it. (Or not! I must again emphasize: This is guesswork.) Unorthodox, The Queen’s Gambit, and Normal People are each lovely character studies, but all the buzz that has surrounded Queen’s Gambit will likely push it into the checkmate column.

Should win: I May Destroy You, but since it’s not here, Unorthodox
Will win: The Queen’s Gambit

Best Actor in a Television Series — Drama

Jason Bateman, Ozark
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Al Pacino, Hunters
Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Golden Globe voters have a soft spot for veteran big stars, which suggests that Pacino has an advantage here. This is his 19th nomination and he’s won 4, not including his Cecil B. DeMille Award. But also: He’s been nominated 19 times and only won 4 times. Not sure his fifth Globe will be for Hunters, necessarily. A case could be made for Josh O’Connor, who found nuance in Prince Charles even when he was behaving reprehensibly. On the other hand, Jason Bateman has been nominated for Ozark every season and never won; Odenkirk also has been nominated multiple times for Better Call Saul and gotten nothing; and Matthew Rhys doesn’t have a Golden Globe, which is wild because we all saw The Americans. This could be an opportunity to reward their good work this year and make up for what has gone unrecognized before.

Should win: Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason
Will win: Jason Bateman, Ozark

Best Actress in a Television Series — Drama

Olivia Colman, The Crown
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Emma Corrin, The Crown
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sarah Paulson, Ratched

Olivia Colman won this last year for stepping into Queen Elizabeth’s boots for the first time. She could win again, but my money’s on the Globes pulling a signature move and anointing The Crown’s up-and-comer, Emma Corrin.

Should win: Laura Linney, whose work in the third season of Ozark was extraordinary.
Will win: Emma Corrin for bringing young Princess Diana to life.

Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy

Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Nicholas Hoult, The Great
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Eugene Levy is an international treasure, but I am continuing to bet that the HFPA will zag away from the Schitt’s Creek sweep we saw at the Emmys. Continuing the logic established by my Best Comedy Series prediction, I am thinking Jason Sudeikis emerges victorious, and deservedly so. Obviously all of these performances are crucial to the success of their respective series, but in my opinion, Sudeikis has to hit some really tough notes by being simultaneously earnest and naïve, but not too corny. He — sports analogy incoming — scores in every scene.

Should win: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Will win: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Best Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy

Lily Collins, Emily in Paris
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Elle Fanning, The Great
Jane Levy, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

I am torn between two predictions here. On one hand, I can completely see the Globe going to Catherine O’Hara, who did things with Moira Rose that no other actress would have ever even thought to do. On the other, I can just as easily imagine the Globe going to Kaley Cuoco, who is very good in The Flight Attendant, a newer show that could benefit from the publicity of a Globes win. I don’t know the answer here, but my conclusion is:

Should win: Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Will win: Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Bryan Cranston, Your Honor
Jeff Daniels, The Comey Rule
Hugh Grant, The Undoing
Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

With all due respect to all these wonderful actors, this should go to Ethan Hawke, who was off-the-charts great in The Good Lord Bird. The prevailing wisdom among award prognosticators is that this award will be handed to Hugh Grant, who has only one Globe to his credit, or Mark Ruffalo, who has none. Given how many nominations The Undoing received, I can see this going to Grant. While I still think Hawke cleared a higher bar, I will still enjoy his acceptance speech.

Should win: Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird
Will win: Hugh Grant, The Undoing

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
Shira Haas, Unorthodox
Nicole Kidman, The Undoing
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

This has been a big year for the big-eyed wonder that is Anya Taylor-Joy. She was riveting in The Queen’s Gambit and, as deserving as others are in this category, I suspect the Globe voters will opt for Joy.

Should win: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit
Will win: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role

John Boyega, Small Axe
Brendan Gleeson, The Comey Rule
Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Jim Parsons, Hollywood
Donald Sutherland, The Undoing

John Boyega gave a widely acclaimed, typically strong performance as cop/cop reformer Leroy Logan in Small Axe. He’s also one of the very few actors of color nominated for a Globe on the TV side, and HFPA members, recently called out for, among other things, having no Black members, may want to recognize him to counteract that excessive whiteness narrative. I’m a big admirer of Boyega; my issue is that his performance is in no way a supporting one. He’s the main character in Red, White and Blue, which I still consider a film in an anthology as opposed to an episode in a miniseries. I am more inclined to give the award to Brendan Gleeson, who really was giving a supporting performance in The Comey Rule and depicted Donald Trump in a way that felt like something I hadn’t seen. He made him as scary as he should have seemed all along.

Should win: Brendan Gleeson, The Comey Rule
Will win: John Boyega, Small Axe

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Supporting Role

Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Julia Garner, Ozark
Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
Cynthia Nixon, Ratched

I’ll get right to the point: This is Gillian Anderson’s Globe to lose for her transformation into Margaret Thatcher.

Should win: Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Will win: Gillian Anderson, The Crown

Who Should (and Will) Win at the Golden Globes This Weekend?