The biggest talking points from the Golden Globes 2021 nominations

Snubs, shocks and surprises – everything you need to know about this year's awards-tipped movies

By February in any other year, the Golden Globes would be done and dusted. The timeline might be different thanks to the pandemic, but regardless of month or season, there will always be plenty of big talking points to come out of the lists of nominees. Here are the debate-sparkers and conversation topics the 2021 Golden Globe nominations – announced today – have inspired.

Emerald Fennell scores a nom for her first film

Imagine making your first movie and receiving not only praise from critics, but bagging yourself a Golden Globe nomination too. That dream scenario is now a reality for Emerald Fennell, the director behind the Carey Mulligan-starring Promising Young Woman, which follows Cassandra as she avenges her friend’s rape and subsequent suicide. She’s nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay.

As well as the nods for Fennell, Promising Young Woman will also duke it out for Best Drama, while Mulligan could go home with the award for Best Actress (Drama).


Golden Globes nominations
‘Promising Young Woman’ bagged director Emerald Fennell her first nomination ever. Credit: Alamy

There are not one, not two, but three women up for Best Director

The Golden Globes doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the Best Director category and not filling it with a bunch of old white men. Natalie Portman highlighted that very fact in 2018 when presenting the award, introducing it by saying: “Here are the all-male nominees.”

Whoever has that task this year won’t have to worry about that. For the first time, more than one woman is up for the prize and, even better, there are three ladies in the running – the aforementioned Fennell, Chloé Zhao for Nomadland, and Regina King for One Night In Miami.

Chloé Zhao is the first Asian woman nominated for Best Director

History is made twice by Zhao, whose nomination has made her the first Asian woman to be recognised in the Best Director category at the Golden Globes. Nomadland is only the Chinese filmmaker’s third feature-length film and is likely just the beginning of her success – she’s signed up to direct Marvel’s The Eternals, which will arrive later this year.

Golden globes nominations
‘Nomadland’ scored Chloé Zhao a nod for Best Director. Credit: Alamy

No Black-led film was nominated for Best Drama

Just when you think representation at the Globes might be looking up, the Best Drama category brings you back down to Earth. Despite 2020 and early 2021 having a whole host of incredible Black-led dramas, not a single one made it into the final five. Movies like Da 5 Bloods, One Night In Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom deserve to be up there, while Judas And The Black Messiah was eligible and certainly will have been available to voters, despite not having been released to the public yet. Each tells – or promises to tell – compelling stories across a spectrum of life with brilliant casts filled with acclaimed actors. So why have they been ignored?

Minari was shut out of the main awards


Ahead of the nominations, there was some controversy around Minari when it was barred from entering more categories than Best Foreign Language. That move from the Globes committee sparked heated debate – the movie is mostly in Korean but tells the story of a family who have emigrated to America and live in rural Arkansas. It was shot and made entirely in the US, regardless of what language the script is in.

Part of the controversy lay in the past precedent set by the Globes. Both Babel and Inglourious Basterds were nominated outside of the Foreign Language category (Babel even won Best Drama in 2006), despite not passing the 50 per cent English threshold that the Globes requires for films to be eligible for Best Picture categories. Unlike Minari, though, these films had casts of famous white actors.

If it couldn’t be nominated for Best Picture, at least its cast could be recognised for their performances. Steven Yeun has been tipped to be nominated at this year’s Oscars and seemed likely to get a nod at the Golden Globes too. Yet his name didn’t appear on the nominations list, with co-star Yeri Han also shut out of the Best Actress categories. If you hoped Parasite sweeping the awards shows last year was a turning point for Hollywood, you might need to think again.

‘Minari’ was prevented from being nominated in the main categories. Credit: Alamy

The controversy around Sia’s Music didn’t stop it from being recognised

Sia’s film Music has also sparked controversy but from a very different angle. The star angered the autistic community when it was revealed she had cast her protégé, Maddie Ziegler, in the movie, playing a young autistic girl, instead of an autistic actor. Sia’s response to criticism didn’t help her case – instead of apologising and admitting her shortsightedness, she responded with several expletive-filled tweets before backtracking in a semi-apology.

Despite that, you’ll find Music in the nominees for Best Musical/Comedy, as well as Kate Hudson in the running for Best Actress (Musical/Comedy). Rewarding Sia for her ableist casting sends a dangerous message to filmmakers and tells marginalised communities that neither they, nor their perspectives and stories, belong in Hollywood.

Where’s the love for I May Destroy You, 2020’s best TV show?

Critically acclaimed and adored by viewers, you would expect I May Destroy You to be a shoo-in at awards season. The programme drew praise for its handling of sexual consent in all its many complex forms and used a thorny subject to make one of the most powerful pieces of television in 2020. The Golden Globes, though, seem not to be on the same page as everyone else – Michaela Coel’s brilliant show hasn’t earned a single nomination in this year’s list.

Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel is the creator and star of ‘I May Destroy You’. Credit: BBC / HBO

Paul Mescal and his chain were left out in the cold…

Many of us may have spent a lot of the pandemic appreciating Connell’s skills in Normal People, but the Globes were not with us. He’s nowhere to be seen in the TV categories, unlike his co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones, who is up for Best Actress (TV). Awkward!

…as was Leslie Odom Jr. for Hamilton

It was the same situation for Leslie Odom Jr. and his role in Hamilton. Many predicted that he would be in the running to walk home with a trophy on Globes night for that part, but he’s been snubbed too. Again, his co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda got the nod instead, butit wasn’t all bad news for Odom Jr. He will compete in a different category instead, scoring a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Drama) for his role as soul icon Sam Cooke in One Night In Miami.

Hollywood darling Zendaya got snubbed too

Thanks to Euphoria (and her phenomenal screen presence), Zendaya has transformed her image from Disney star to serious actor in recent years and, now, she’s the darling of Hollywood. Despite not having hit Netflix yet, she was eligible for a nomination for her role in Malcolm & Marie, Sam Levinson’s made-in-quarantine movie. It’s interesting to see her name not on the list, given the praise she’s received for her performance in that film. Did the age gap between Zendaya and co-star John David Washington put voters off or did the movie’s content about critics upset the journalists that vote?

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