This year’s Golden Globes will be the first film awards season event to unfold in the grim and globally buzzkilled new world of Covid restrictions, but some traditions are sacrosanct: the world of snubs. Christopher Nolan’s colossal metaphysical thriller Tenet was lauded by many in the business, but was sent away almost empty-handed in nominations (one nod for Ludwig Göransson’s score). It is also disappointing that the overwhelmingly moving and mysterious Pixar animation Soul gets only two nominations – animation and score. Surely it deserved best film musical or comedy?
In terms of diversity, the Globes have not disgraced themselves, with three out of the five director nominees being women: Emerald Fennell for the brilliant rape-revenge satire Promising Young Woman, Regina King for the true-life 60s encounter One Night in Miami and Chloé Zhao for the docudrama Nomadland – although some will be disappointed to see the relative failure in the best film categories of the big black-ensemble pictures such as One Night in Miami, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah.
Of course, the streaming giants are crowding out the rest. Netflix has 22 film nominations in total, way ahead of the next contender Amazon Studios, with seven. Disney must content itself with joint third place with a mere five.
As far as frontrunner movies go, I have a hunch that it is Nomadland that will wind up with the bragging rights, and with its nominations for drama, director and actress (Frances McDormand) might very well be in tune with this year’s sombre and ruminative zeitgeist. It is not about Covid but rather the social consequences of the 2008 financial crash, with sixtysomethings and newly penniless retirees forced to move into Winnebagos and roam around the country looking for seasonal work in giant Amazon warehouses and the like. It is a wonderful film, that speaks to a new thoughtfulness in the air.
In the nominations tally, Nomadland with four nods is outclassed by David Fincher’s Mank, the league leader with six. This is the dreamlike alt-reality riff on Herman J Mankiewicz (charismatically played by Gary Oldman), the screenwriter who, after a career of what he felt was tinseltown hackwork, found himself sharing the screenplay Oscar with Orson Welles for Citizen Kane. (The movie was scripted by Fincher’s late father Jack, who gets a posthumous screenplay nomination.) The film mischievously amplifies the famous or notorious dissident theory advanced by Pauline Kael that Mankiewicz was Kane’s true driving force – which some have found intolerable and others fascinating. I am in the latter category.
Florian Zeller’s The Father also has four nominations, with Anthony Hopkins as the ageing dementia sufferer and Olivia Colman as his daughter; it has devastated all who have seen who have seen it. This too is a serious and heartfelt film with overwhelmingly disturbing and moving sequences from the point of view of the person with dementia, and may also be a Globe winner that addresses our sober new mood.
Fennell is a brilliant young film-maker who has scored a dazzling triumph with her debut movie Promising Young Woman, the rape-revenge suspense satire starring Carey Mulligan as a mysterious avenger faking falling-down drunkenness in clubs, so that predatory men can take her back to their place where she has a surprise in store for them. It has nods in director, drama, actress and screenplay.
But my feeling is that this is the year for Nomadland and The Father.