The Golden Globe nominations are here, and as always, there are a few noteworthy snubs and oddities among the recognized films. As the end of 2018 fast approaches, various awards bodies are weighing in, listing what they feel is the best the year had to offer. On the heels of the National Board of Review and American Film Institute unveiling their respective top 10 lists, the Hollywood Foreign Press became the latest to name their selections. While there's still plenty of time for things to change ahead of Oscar Sunday in February 2019, the race is starting to become clearer.
In these initial stages, there have been some pleasant surprises - including from the Globes. Marvel Studios' Black Panther scored a huge nod when it was nominated for Best Picture - Drama, and Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is in the running for Best Animated Feature. After being shunned by NBR and AFI, Adam McKay's Vice got a much-needed boost by earning six nominations (the most of any film), including Best Picture - Comedy or Musical and Best Director. Looking over the full list, there's a lot to celebrate - but there are some serious head scratchers as well. Here are the biggest Golden Globes snubs.
On-paper, Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic had all the makings of a serious awards contender, and following the raves it got at festival screenings, it felt like it'd be a legitimate contender. Unfortunately, things haven't gone the way many initially expected, and First Man's awards prospects continue to sink. Ignored entirely by NBR and AFI, First Man picked up just a pair of Golden Globe nominations. Claire Foy was among the five in Best Supporting Actress, and Justin Hurwitz received a nod for his memorable musical score. Those two are very much deserving of their accolades, but fans of First Man can't help but feel it deserved more.
While detractors felt First Man was too cold and emotionally distant to truly connect with viewers on an emotional level, the film was lauded for its impressive technical merits, with Chazelle continuing to evolve his craft. First Man features some of the young filmmaker's strongest direction, particularly the awe-inspiring moon landing sequence that was done primarily in-camera with practical effects. The film itself, which told a touching story about grief and overcoming personal loss, had a case for Best Picture - Drama, and Gosling's understated (but effective) performance as Armstrong could have been in competition for Best Actor - Drama. Maybe if First Man performed better at the box office, things would have turned out differently, but it turned out to be not much of a factor.
Widows Gets Shut Out
At least First Man has a couple of nominations to celebrate. Steve McQueen's acclaimed heist movie was shut out entirely. Widows' awards prospects were always an iffy proposition, but in the months leading up to its release, it was hard to argue against its pedigree. McQueen is an award-winning filmmaker for his work on 2013's 12 Years a Slave, and the stacked cast was spearheaded by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis. Once the reviews started to come in and Widows earned widespread praise for its technical and thematic mastery (the film goes deeper than your typical crime entry), it seemed like it could put together a campaign.
But now, Widows' chances are essentially nonexistent. Like First Man, it didn't appeal to NBR and AFI voters, and the Globes didn't go for it at all, either. This despite McQueen's sensibilities translating very well to a more mainstream realm (the standout tracking shot is intricately crafted and rich) and the cast delivered compelling performances across the board. Davis was typically excellent as the leader of the makeshift group, commanding the attention of viewers with her screen presence. Gillian Flynn's screenplay also tackled heady and complex subject matter, striking a nice balance between genre thrills and substance. For many, Widows was one of the best films of the fall, but it isn't awards voters' cup of tea.
First Reformed Shut Out
One of the movies that's gained much traction early in awards season is Paul Schrader's First Reformed, a drama centering around New York minister Toller (Ethan Hawke) dealing with questions about faith and morality. Released by indie darling A24 as a counter-programming option over the summer, First Reformed managed to leave a sizable impression. It did very well at the Gotham Awards and New York Film Critics Circle, thrusting Hawke to the forefront of the Best Actor race. First Reformed was also noted by the NBR and AFI as one of the year's best films, further solidifying its status as a legitimate contender as we build towards the Oscars.
First Reformed hit its first speed bump of the season when it earned zero Golden Globes nominations. Hawke's performance and Schrader's screenplay had picked up multiple notices up until this point, so the drama's omission is bound to raise a few eyebrows. It's very much still in the thick of things (the various guilds have yet to name their nominations), but it will still be interesting to keep an eye on First Reformed and see if it misses out with other key organizations.
Sam Elliott's A Star is Born Performance
Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star is Born has been considered the one to beat ever since it premiered at the fall festivals. It has the positive reviews, it has the box office, and it has the undeniable star power of Cooper and Lady Gaga behind it. There are few things awards voters love more than films about the entertainment industry, which is another reason why it's resonated so well. Remember, La La Land received a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations, so the expectation was A Star is Born would do quite well on the circuit. Indeed, it's done just that, scoring four wins from the NBR (including Best Director and Best Actress), a spot on on the AFI list, and five Golden Globe nominations. There will certainly be more nominations to come in the next few weeks.
It's hard to say with a serious face the juggernaut of the season has been snubbed, but the Golden Globes failed to mention Sam Elliott, who gave a poignant performance as Bobby in the film. The veteran actor has long been presumed as one of the favorites in the Best Supporting Actor category (an award he won from NBR), so it was fascinating to see the Globes bypass him. That isn't to take anything away from the five thespians who were nominated in that field, but considering all the love A Star is Born has been getting so far, it was odd Elliott couldn't come along for the ride. This doesn't seal his Oscar fate, but this is still a situation to watch closely.
Better Call Saul Gets Shut Out
Breaking Bad is rightfully hailed as one of the finest television dramas of all-time, and spinoff Better Call Saul is certainly a worthy successor to that legacy. Now four seasons in, the show brilliantly expands its universe without relying on its parent program as a crutch. Even without the Breaking Bad connections fans enjoy, Better Call Saul stands on its own merits as a top-notch character drama fueled by masterful storytelling and terrific acting. The fourth season, which ran earlier this year, was just as acclaimed as its predecessors as Vince Gilligan and company set the stage for a highly entertaining and compelling fifth year. And yet, the Globes didn't notice.
This isn't a matter of eligibility, either. Better Call Saul was in contention for this year's Golden Globes, yet walked away with no nominations. To be fair, Saul never got much love from the Hollywood Foreign Press (its three career nominations are all for Bob Odenkirk's performances), but it's nevertheless surprising to see it be completely shut out. Better Call Saul continues to rank among the best programs on the air, and the cast has never been better. Odenkirk definitely deserved another nomination, as did Rhea Seehorn, who continues to impress as Kim Wexler. Perhaps one day, Saul will have a Globes breakthrough.
Atlanta Misses Best Comedy Series
Another critical darling that had a curious showing at the Golden Globes is Donald Glover's Atlanta, which aired its second season earlier this year. Noted for its ambition and creativity, the show took home the award for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy for its first season. Glover also won Best Actor for his performance, so it looked like Atlanta was set to be a permanent fixture at the awards show (as long as it maintained its level of quality, of course). The second season received widespread acclaim, but failed to leave much of an impact.
Glover was once again nominated for his acting, but Atlanta was snubbed in Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy this time around. To be fair, the field was stacked with deserving shows like newcomers Barry and Kidding, as well as returning stalwarts The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Good Place. Perhaps since Atlanta won the Globe before, the voters decided to give another program a shot this year, but it's still strange it isn't in the running this year. Glover remains at the top of his game artistically, and 2018 was a huge year for his already impressive career (see: "This is America" and Solo). Maybe Atlanta will be back at the Globes for its third season.
Bohemian Rhapsody Nominated For Best Drama
More on this exact category in a moment, but Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody stands out as one of the most surprising nominations of the entire list. This is namely because it does not have the best critical reception. Most everyone agrees Rami Malek's transformative performance as Mercury is fantastic, but the movie surrounding him doesn't match the actor's talent. Bohemian Rhapsody earned negative and lukewarm reviews, particularly for its safe handling of some aspects of its subject's interesting life. As transcendent and legendary Queen's music was (and continues to be), the movie that told their story was seen as a letdown.
Despite that, the Hollywood Foreign Press definitely enjoyed it, selecting it as one of the five films for Best Motion Picture - Drama. You could make an ultra competitive race out of all the movies Bohemian Rhapsody beat out to earn its spot: First Reformed, First Man, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and others could have been alternatives - and all of those have a better reputation amongst film critics. Since NBR and AFI skipped over Bohemian Rhapsody, it seems unlikely it'll factor into the Oscar Best Picture race, so this will be one of the weirder moments of the entire season.
Is This A Drama or a Musical?
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes divide Best Picture into two separate categories: Drama and Musical or Comedy. Frequently, there's a debate about where a specific title will fall, and oftentimes the results are highly confusing. While Ridley Scott's The Martian has moments of levity, few would consider it an outright comedy. Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is laced with the legendary director's trademark dark humor, but it's hardly a "comedy" in the traditional sense of the genre. Films like Mary Poppins Returns and Crazy Rich Asians read as sound examples for what should be nominated in Musical or Comedy.
Looking at the Drama field, there are two selections that don't seem like the best fits. We speak of A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody - movies that feel tailor-made for the Musical or Comedy category. They're as defined by their catchy soundtracks as they are their dramatic narratives (if not more), and music is clearly an integral part of their DNA. Yes, musical set pieces are woven in a little more organically than something like La La Land (Jackson Maine and Ally's concerts, Queen's Live Aid set), but the films are still driven by their songs and would have fit as Musicals. There probably won't be an explanation given for this, so viewers will have to try to figure it out for themselves.
Of course, this list isn't meant to be all-inclusive, but these were some of the more noteworthy Golden Globes snubs we noticed after the nominations came out. What they mean for the rest of awards season remains to be seen, and debates will continue to rage on about what should and shouldn't be nominated.