The 2022 Golden Globes are a zombie awards show. They might walk like a normal Oscar precursor, and talk like a normal Oscar precursor, but without the widely viewed prime-time telecast, will anyone care?
Having been booted from their perch at NBC this year, thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s various corruption/diversity scandals, the Globes will be going ceremony-less this year. But the HFPA is not going away entirely. They’re instituting reforms, inducting new members, swearing to do better. And at Monday morning’s nominations, the controversial awards body proved they were capable of meaningful change in at least one respect — instead of the usual bonkers choices, the Globes gave a set of film nominations that were shockingly un-embarrassing. Almost normal, in fact. The HFPA are starting with the man in the mirror, and deciding that that man does not look like Ben Platt in pancake makeup.
In fact, the only thing comical about this year’s nomination announcement was emcee Snoop Dogg’s war against Irish names. (Ciarán Hinds’s first name became “Karen,” and Kenneth Branagh’s surname an unpronounceable wasteland.) Otherwise, a chastened Globes were on their best behavior. Early-season frontrunners Belfast and The Power of the Dog led the field with seven nominations apiece. Late-arriving darlings Licorice Pizza and West Side Story also performed well, as did presumed contenders Dune and King Richard. Pundits had feared Dear Evan Hansen might rear its de-aged head in the Musical/Comedy categories, but this proved misguided. With Tick, Tick … Boom! and Cyrano also in the musical mix, the Broadway adaptation was left waving through a window.
It was at the Musical/Comedy end of the ballot that the Globes made their most delightful choices. There was no Kate Hudson in Music this year. Instead, the HFPA belied their reputation for star-fuckery by spotlighting a trio of intriguing newcomers: Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman’s breakout pairing in Licorice Pizza and Anthony Ramos’s winning turn in In the Heights. Sure, none of them are fresh off the bus from Topeka — Hoffman is the son of a Hollywood legend, Ramos was in Hamilton, and Haim is one-third of the band Haim. But for the Globes, these are baby steps!
Smaller movies also got their due. In Best Director, The Lost Daughter’s Maggie Gyllenhaal nabbed the spot many had earmarked for Paul Thomas Anderson. Passing’s Ruth Negga made the grade in Supporting Actress. And, lest you chalk those up to the HFPA’s longstanding affection for Netflix, the Apple TV+ sleeper CODA earned a surprise Best Motion Picture, Drama nomination, to go along with its Supporting Actor nod for Troy Kotsur.
Of course, the Globes wouldn’t be the Globes if they just nominated everybody that awards pundits expected. (That’s what the Critics Choice Awards are for.) While Guillermo del Toro’s last film, The Shape of Water, earned seven Globe nominations, his new one, Nightmare Alley, blanked. In Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, they still found room for the quintessentially Globes choice of Emma Stone in Cruella. But just as often, they held firm. Having been presented with the opportunity to nominate Jared Leto’s prosciutto-faced performance in House of Gucci — a decision that, given the paucity of contenders in that category, no one would have dinged them for — the Globes declined, going with Ben Affleck instead. Boof.
Will any of this matter to the Oscar race? Hard to tell. Ultimately, this was a press conference previewing another press conference. But at least the HFPA can hold their head high and say that, for one day, they did not step on a rake. It’s a start.