Just like a virus, it is hard to keep a bad awards show down. Only one year after the Golden Globe Awards appeared to be all but dead – with a zombified version taking place in a celebrity-free Los Angeles ballroom, the only evidence of its non-televised existence being a widely mocked Twitter feed – Hollywood’s third- (fourth-?) biggest night is somehow back.
On Monday, those wacky players inside the allegedly reformed Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced nominations for its 2023 Golden Globes ceremony, with lots of love for the season’s most critically acclaimed productions, including The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Avatar: The Way of Water and Tar on the big-screen side, and The White Lotus, Abbott Elementary, Only Murders in the Building and Pam & Tommy on the small-screen end of things.
And for a brief moment, it seemed as if everyone inside and outside the entertainment industry conveniently forgot just what it was that we were all upset about in the first place. Art-house studios that have seen their theatrical box-office revenues crash got some good news (Searchlight’s dark comedy The Banshees of Inisherin led the movie pack with eight nominations) and streamers fighting it out for Wall Street’s love got to burnish their stocks with bragging rights (HBO and Netflix each got 14 nominations). If you squinted real hard, it all looked like we were back in the comforting, non-terrifying territory of awards season circa 2019.
It didn’t take long for the illusion to wear off, though. A slightly more careful glance at the Globe nominations reveals all the cracks and fissures that underscore why the awards show and its governing body deserved to burst into flames.
Take the recent announcement that the HFPA has hired comedian Jerrod Carmichael to host its upcoming Jan. 10 show, which will be back on the air thanks to a one-year NBC deal. Given that the whole HFPA mess started with a Los Angeles Times exposé that revealed the organization had not a single Black member, it makes good, crass, PR-blessed sense that the folks at the Globes would hire Carmichael, a Black and gay comedian who is a huge rising star, to play MC this year.
But what about the rest of this year’s show, whose nominees include a cross-section of power players who have long washed their hands of the HFPA?
Brendan Fraser scored a nomination for Best Actor (Drama) for his starring role as a 600-lb. recluse in Darren Aronofsky’s dark drama The Whale – but the actor’s entire comeback tour these past few months has hinged on how he walked away from Hollywood after being allegedly assaulted by Philip Berk, the one-time president of the HFPA, during a 2003 Globes luncheon (an incident that Berk has disputed). Fraser has already said that he won’t attend any Globes ceremony. Will other performers who have been singing the actor’s praises follow suit? Or is that too much solidarity to expect from an industry that can stomach as much hypocrisy as Fraser’s Whale character can pepperoni pizza?
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise, whose blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick netted two Globe nominations including Best Picture (Drama), is no friend of the HFPA, either. In 2021, the actor famously returned the three Golden Globe statuettes he had previously won, so disgusted was he with the organization in the wake of the L.A. Times story. If the industry’s biggest star – the man who is being credited far and wide with saving Hollywood postpandemic – won’t forgive or even acknowledge the Golden Globes, do they truly exist?
And what about the fact that no women were nominated in the Best Director category, excluding leading contenders Sarah Polley (Women Talking), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King) and Chinonye Chukwu (Till)?
Right now, it is all a guessing game as to how the industry will react: there is no way that the NBC ballroom will be half-empty next month, but how enthusiastically will studios market their wares as being “Golden Globe-nominated,” if the organization still carries the whiff of a gag gone sour? Regardless, the Globes are already setting up one Hollywood institution for failure: the Oscars. Because if audiences – already less than enthused with this year’s big fall movie offerings, if they have even ventured to go out to movie theatres at all – do not tune in for the Globes’ messy comeback, then there is a good bet to be made that they will pass on watching the Academy Awards, too.
One thing that is guaranteed: be sure to keep an eye on Ricky Gervais’s Twitter feed the evening of Jan. 10. If the former Globes host doesn’t take at least a dozen shots at his former employer, then that would be a bigger shock than anything that could happen at the awards show itself.