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The Golden Globe Nominations: Still Weird, But Not Tipsy Quite Yet

Golden Globe statuettes, seen here in 2009, will be handed out again on January 6 to nominees announced today.
Frazer Harrison
Getty Images
Golden Globe statuettes, seen here in 2009, will be handed out again on January 6 to nominees announced today.

Are the Golden Globes an awards milestone that sometimes suggests where the season might be going? A genuine opportunity to recognize a fresher batch of shows and films than sometimes dominate the Emmys and Oscars? A boost that has legitimately helped some good but under-the-radar projects raise their profiles? A special chance to acknowledge talent that doesn't get recognized enough?

Or are they the kickoff to a process that starts with a small group of journalists with widely varying credentials, continues through nominations that are often called "weird" because they are weird, and ends with everyone drunk and suspicious that it's harder to get a Globe (or a Globe nomination) if you're unlikely to show up?

Well, they're all those things, of course.

The nominations came out Thursday morning, and yes, they were a little weird. A little infuriating. But also a little lovely, and a little welcome, and a little encouraging.

Film nominations

Unlike the Oscars, the Globes divide films for most purposes into "drama" and "musical or comedy." So rather than a single best picture category, you have a best drama category that includes Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, If Beale Street Could Talk and A Star Is Born. The best musical or comedy category includes Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, Green Book, Mary Poppins Returns, and Vice. Some notable films not appearing on either list: First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke; Damien Chazelle's First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong; A Quiet Place, a critically acclaimed horror film nominated only for its score; and Widows, a heist film directed by 12 Years A Slave's Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis.

The line between a comedy/musical and a drama is a weird one; entrants can generally decide where to submit a film for consideration, although the rules say the submission should be in the category that "best matches the overall tone and content" of the movie. So it's the submitter who decides that the often devastating Eighth Grade should be a comedy (?) and the often funny Can You Ever Forgive Me? should be a drama (?), even though both films have a mix of dramatic and comedic elements. The leads of both films — Elsie Fisher and Melissa McCarthy — were nominated in their respective categories as well, so feel free to switch them in your head if you prefer.

It's also the submission that determined that A Star Is Born, the year's most successful musical thus far, should not be submitted as a musical, but as a drama.

Perhaps the most puzzling omission of all on an individual level is in the director category. The gorgeous, luscious film If Beale Street Could Talk was nominated for best drama, and Barry Jenkins, also the director of Moonlight, was nominated for the screenplay he adapted from James Baldwin's novel. But Jenkins was, in a baffling move, not nominated for his direction of the film, which may well be its most deserving single aspect. Fortunately, Regina King was nominated for her supporting performance in the film — her second nomination of this year, in addition to one for her work in the TV series Seven Seconds.

Other notes: The most-nominated film, Vice, which is Adam McKay's take on Dick Cheney, has six nominations but remains unseen by most people who aren't awards voters. All three actresses at the center of The Favourite (musical or comedy) scored nominations, for Olivia Colman in the lead and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in supporting. The enormously popular Black Panther landed a rare drama nomination for a superhero film, and the also enormously popular Crazy Rich Asians was nominated in comedy.

There's lots more to explore in the full list of nominations.

Television nominations

There's no real juggernaut this year on the TV side. HBO did very well with the limited series Sharp Objects and the comedy Barry, Amazon continued to see a strong awards showing from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and added multiple nods for Homecoming and the limited series A Very English Scandal, and Hulu is still chugging along with The Handmaid's Tale. But there was also lots of love for the last hurrah of FX's The Americans, as well as for the network's The Assassination of Gianni Versace and two nominations for its marvelous series Pose — including one for great Broadway star Billy Porter.

The nominated dramas come from all over the place: The Americans and Pose from FX, Homecoming from Amazon, Bodyguard from Netflix (which originally aired on the BBC), and Killing Eve from BBC America. Notably, nothing nominated in the drama category Netflix made itself.

On the comedy series side, Netflix has its new series The Kominsky Method (which earned nominations for its leads, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin), Showtime has the Jim Carrey vehicle Kidding, Amazon has Maisel, HBO has Barry, and NBC has the one and only broadcast TV series nominated for outstanding comedy series (or drama series or miniseries/movie), its terrific The Good Place (whose lead, Kristen Bell, was also nominated).

More notes: Donald Glover was nominated for his performance in his series Atlanta, but the series itself received no other nominations. Stephan James — also in If Beale Street Could Talk this year, but not nominated for it — was nominated for Amazon's Homecoming, as was Julia Roberts.

The ceremony is coming to you January 6, 2019, and it will be hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg. We'll see you then.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: December 5, 2018 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of this story implied Netflix brokered an international distribution deal of Bodyguard with the BBC. In fact, Netflix acquired the show in a deal with ITV.
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.