Film Students and Faculty Discuss Golden Globe Nominations

Film Students and Faculty Discuss Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globes initiate’s annual discussion of not only the films and television produced over the past year but their cultural implications. The awards show, airing Feb. 28, is predicted to make history with more female and BIPOC nominations than ever before. However many wonder if the Golden Globe Awards have made enough progress to adequately reflect the current cultural landscape, especially after a year as politically and socially transformative as 2020.

“Since the 1920s, people have complained about what has and hasn’t been nominated, so awards shows are often an interesting reflection of what is valued in an industry and what is considered important,” said Kirsten Thompson, a Professor and Director of film studies at Seattle University.

In recent years, the Golden Globes have faced scrutiny over the credibility of nominations on account of racism, sexism and Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) fraud. The HFPA group, a board of journalists who dictate Golden Globe nominations, has been taken to court due to ethical conflict just this year. The Los Angeles Times listed details of the newly exposed controversy. 

“The group…was rife with ethical conflicts, with members accepting ‘thousands of dollars in emoluments’ from the very same studios, networks and celebrities they conferred trophies upon, all of it hidden behind a ‘code of silence,’” the Los Angeles Times wrote.

Doubt of HFPA’s credibility grew after information was leaked about their affiliation with the Netflix original show “Emily in Paris,” after members of HFPA were flown to Paris on an all-expenses paid trip to visit the show’s luxurious set. 

While debate circulates around the show’s credibility, the Golden Globes remain a time of reflection for film and television lovers who want to credit the performances they’ve witnessed this year. 

Nathan Silva, a second-year film studies major at Seattle U, stated that some nominations fell flat. After watching “The Prom” with a friend and being disappointed by the movie’s portrayal of queer characters, Silva was frustrated to see James Cordon’s nomination for best actor in a motion picture.

“My friend and I, we’re both part of the LGBTQ+ community. I identify as a gay person, and my friend identifies as bisexual and non-binary. When you look at his performance, it’s obvious that he’s a straight person playing what he perceives to be a gay character,” Silva said. “To a degree that seems a bit offensive, as if he was playing a gay character in a 1980s SNL skit, not a 2021 movie that’s supposed to be about gay positivity. He looks like a caricature, there’s nothing genuine in it, and I think a really poor nomination.”

Silva favored Hunter Shafer’s portrayal of Jules and stated that of all the 2020 productions he wished were nominated for an award, “Euphoria’s” special episodes were his top pick. 

“To bring the comparison where it’s someone who’s actually a part of the community, you can look at Hunter Shafer and anything she’s done with the ‘Euphoria’ series,” Silva continued. “She’s brought this huge element of ingenuity to her character because she’s a trans-woman playing a trans-woman character…when you compare something like Hunter Shafer’s contribution, where she brings her experiences, writing, and artistry to her performances to something like James Cordon, it’s ridiculous.”

While progress has been made within the Golden Globes and beyond, this year’s award show will feature historical firsts, such as a female-led director of the year category, and more nominations for BIPOC actors than ever before. Thompson expressed excitement over this year’s female nominees.

Although three female directors are nominated for this year’s award show, historically, the Golden Globes have only nominated five female directors in its 77 years of existence. Gabby Robinson, a second-year film and environmental studies double major, commented on the show’s motives behind becoming more inclusive.


“It’s definitely social pressure, I think it’s something that’s been going on for an incredibly long time…if people are no longer engaged with it, they’re gonna lose money, so I think it’s probably not only a tactic that they are using to make money but to stay involved in the awards circuit. Obviously, they’re behind massively not only with women but people who identity ad BIPOC and LGBTQ+,” Robinson said.

Huge strides in inclusivity can be observed at this year’s award shows, as 2020’s cinematic productions have introduced many new narratives to the industry. Thompson commented on social developments reflected in this year’s nominations.

“Often films, when they’re made, are as much about the current moment as they are about the content of what they tell the story of, so ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is not just about The Black Panthers as a radical political movement, but it’s also about today and changes that are being called for in addressing structural racism and white supremacy,” Thompson said.

While progress has been made, the Golden Globes are known for favoring films with an English language and American content, despite being operated by the Foreign Press Association. The Golden Globes have been criticized for its selection of “Minari” for a nomination in the Best Foreign Film category, as it is an American film. 

“The Oscars are always so tailored towards American, high-budget media when that is not what film is at all, and I feel like it’s a really inaccurate representation,” Robinson said.

This year has also been unique in regards to independent film companies, with a surprising number of the nominees being smaller, more independent films for an award show catered towards blockbuster television and film.

“This year is a really idiosyncratic year because Hollywood has pretty much held in reserve much of its unreleased films, so come 2022, we’re gonna be inundated with films that have been held up in the pipelines,” Thompson said. “Small independent films are getting greater attention because they’re not dominated or subsumed by the latest splashy Hollywood big blockbuster production, so this might be a slightly atypical year, where we’re seeing more independent films but it may not last next year.”

Due to COVID-19, streaming services have been successful in receiving nominations due, in part, to movie theatre closures. Dr. Thompson commented on this streaming phenomenon, stating that platforms like Netflix, which received 22 Golden Globe nominations, will continue to be a competitive force in the film industry.

This year’s Golden Globes indicate numerous shifts in the film and television industry, from inclusion and diversity to imagining a world without major box openings. This next week’s show will elaborate on the choices of the HFPA.