The show must go on. Do this year’s Golden Globe nominations show signs of change for the awards show?

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AP Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador

The nominees for the 2023 Golden Globes were announced Monday morning, as Hollywood prepares for the return of one of its most important yet derided award shows.

Martin McDonough’s film “The Banshees of Inisherin” and the sit-com “Abbott Elementary” lead the way with nominations on the film and TV side of things, but the conversation around the Golden Globes goes beyond the nominees this year.

Often thought of as the boozy, freewheeling counterpart to the prestigious Academy Awards, the Golden Globes has a now complicated place in the Hollywood awards circuit. For years, it was considered a bellwether for future awards shows, including the Oscars. Now, almost two years after a searing Los Angeles Times exposé revealed misconduct, ethical breaches and lack of diversity in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that runs the award show, the Globes are trying to paint a picture of a changing organization.

The 80th annual ceremony will be the return of the Golden Globes after NBC refused to air the show earlier this year during a massive boycott inspired by the Times’ story. In the aftermath of the controversy, the organization claims it has implemented reforms ranging from a ban on members accepting gifts from studios and a hotline members can use to report misconduct. It brought in 103 more international voters and 21 new members. Those changes have made its voting pool 51.5% racially and ethnically diverse, according to the HFPA.

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Associate teaching professor Steve Granelli. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

“This is really not the old HFPA anymore,” Helen Hoehne, president of the HFPA, told The Hollywood Reporter.
But based on this year’s slate of nominees, Steve Grenelli, associate teaching professor of communication studies at Northeastern, says little has changed about the Golden Globes and HFPA.

He found the nominations to be more “representative than in years past,” but still lacking in some areas. No female directors were nominated in either the drama or musical/comedy film categories, while five out of the 25 performers in the lead actor/actress film categories are people of color. Six out of 25 nominees in the TV leading performer categories are people of color.

More importantly, the HFPA’s “stars first” approach was still on full display.

“Look at Best Actress in a TV series, and Laura Linney and Hillary Swank are getting nominations for their work in ‘Ozark’ and ‘Alaska Daily,’” Granelli says. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Where’s Rhea Seehorn from ‘Better Call Saul’? … When there’s a movie actor who’s done television, they’re going to get nominated.”

When stardom is prioritized over the, admittedly subjective, quality of the performance, Granelli says the HFPA ends up creating slates of nominees that vary wildly, particularly in the TV categories.

“You’re asking Kevin Costner to basically be Kevin Costner [in ‘Yellowstone],” Granelli says. “You’re asking Bob Odenkirk in ‘Better Call Saul’ to be three different characters, have an array of emotions and then also be funny.”

For Granelli, there were also several surprises among the list of nominees. Some were welcome, like Zendaya’s nomination for her performance in the second season of HBO’s “Euphoria.” 

Others seemingly came out of left field. Despite the conversation around it being somewhat muted, Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon,” a silent film era portrait of Hollywood excess, earned five nominations, tied for third most in the film categories with Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans.” 

“There’s going to be some generative momentum because people are going to be talking about this, especially because it’s just coming out,” Granelli says.

Similarly, Granelli says Angela Bassett’s nomination for her supporting performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a promising sign for a performance that has already picked up steam with other awards bodies.

On the TV side of things, one show’s performance among the nominees confounded Granelli: “Pam & Tommy,” Hulu’s dramatization of the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape scandal.

“I was surprised at the amount of Pam & Tommy [nominations], that Pam & Tommy was even in the limited series category at all,” Granelli says.

The HFPA’s choice to have comedian Jerrod Carmichael as host also surprised Granelli, not because of the standup’s talent but because of his brutal honesty. With Ricky Gervais, the Golden Globes has a history of choosing hosts that roast the show. But Granelli says Carmichael is in a position to criticize the HFPA’s attempts to address the very criticisms it’s probably hoping to fix by choosing him as a host in the first place.

“I don’t understand how he’s going to not just tear apart the Hollywood Foreign Press for three hours,” Granelli says. “Jerrod Carmichael has an odd presentation sensibility where he feels like he’s getting away with what he’s saying and he’s whispering the thing that everybody’s thinking.”

Granelli isn’t holding out hope that the HFPA will be able to “fix” the Golden Globes. Even before the LA Times’ story, the Golden Globes’ credibility was questionable, he says. The HFPA’s reputation for courting big stars and being obsessed with fame is a feature, not a bug for the Golden Globes. That doesn’t mean change isn’t necessary. The diversity of nominees is still a work in progress, and the show itself could be improved in logistical ways that would benefit viewers and nominees, he says. 

“The way the Golden Globes could have actually moved forward a little bit is to remove gendered categories,” Granelli says. “I think that would have been the most consequential step that they could have taken toward really reforming the institution.”

As for the 2023 Golden Globes, Granelli says, ultimately, the only way to measure whether the HFPA has made attempts to change will ultimately come down to the winners, not just the nominees.

“After we see the slate of those who won, that’s the only time we’re going to be able to say, ‘Wow, there was a marked change,’” Granelli says.

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