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Golden Globes 2021: Our critic picks who should, will win

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland."

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Get ready for an unpredictable, unprecedented, mid-pandemic version of the Golden Globes.

It’s only fitting that after the craziest year in modern memory, the first awards show would be the Globes, a famously chaotic event in the best of times. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, returning for the fourth time, will have to virtually sync their routine from opposite coasts — Fey at Manhattan’s Rainbow Room and Poehler at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. That spot, the Globes’ traditional home base, is usually filled with celebrities in varying states of inebriation. Not this year. While some nominees and presenters may be in attendance, many are expected to beam in from "locations across the world," according to a Globes news release. In that sense, the show (Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC/4) will be a test-run for the Oscars, which will put together its own virtual ceremony in April.

As for the nominations, the division between motion pictures and television seem more arbitrary than ever thanks to COVID-19. After all, most of us have been watching everything at home. "Nomadland," for instance, which is favored to win best dramatic picture, premiered on Hulu the same day it opened in theaters. Disney-Pixar’s "Soul," a shoo-in for best animated film, was released only on Disney+ in the U.S. Meanwhile, the streaming service Netflix handily outpaced the traditional film studios with 22 nominations. Among Netflix’s high-profile contenders are David Fincher’s "Mank," the August Wilson adaptation "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" and Aaron Sorkin’s "The Trial of the Chicago 7."

On top of all this comes a recent wave of bad press for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes. An expose in the Los Angeles Times detailed the HFPA’s hefty payouts to members who serve on its various committees. The Times also revealed that the HFPA has no Black members — not a good look, especially when so much of the entertainment industry is striving for diversity. Former host Ricky Gervais would have had a field day with this material.

So who’ll win? Here’s our best guess at how Sunday’s Globes ceremony will play out.

BEST MOTION PICTURE — DRAMA

"The Father"

"Mank"

"Nomadland"

"Promising Young Woman"

"The Trial of the Chicago 7"

SHOULD WIN "The Trial of the Chicago 7." Aaron Sorkin’s drama about a legal case that pitted the counterculture against the establishment has a crackling energy and an intriguing dramatic turn from Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman.

WILL WIN "Nomadland." A topical issue (economic calamity) plus one of our greatest actresses (Frances McDormand) should add up to a winning combination.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE — DRAMA

Viola Davis, "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom"

Andra Day, "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday"

Vanessa Kirby, "Pieces of a Woman"

Frances McDormand, "Nomadland"

Carey Mulligan, "Promising Young Woman"

SHOULD WIN Davis. Though her screen time is limited, Davis fills it impressively as the larger-than-life singer who helped create the music we call the blues.

WILL WIN Mulligan. Critics have been captivated by her performance as a predator who poses as prey. But don’t forget McDormand, who could snag her second Globe here.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE — DRAMA

Riz Ahmed, "Sound of Metal"

Chadwick Boseman, "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom"

Anthony Hopkins, "The Father"

Gary Oldman, "Mank"

Tahar Rahim, "The Mauritanian"

SHOULD WIN Boseman. The late actor had an amazing run, but this final performance, as a volatile jazz musician, suggests he was just getting started.

WILL WIN Boseman.

BEST MOTION PICTURE — MUSICAL OR COMEDY

"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"

"Hamilton"

"Music"

"Palm Springs"

"The Prom"

SHOULD WIN "Palm Springs." In a notably weak category, this hipster version of "Groundhog Day" is the most impressive entry.

WILL WIN "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm." Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequel to "Borat" feels like a retread, but its antipathy toward all things Trump should score points with the HFPA.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE — MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Maria Bakalova, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"

Kate Hudson, "Music"

Michelle Pfeiffer, "French Exit"

Rosamund Pike, "I Care a Lot"

Anya Taylor-Joy, "Emma"

SHOULD WIN Hudson. Her turn as an addict who cares for an autistic girl is an unexpected highlight in a film that has been largely reviled.

WILL WIN Bakalova, whose notorious hotel room scene with Rudy Giuliani briefly dominated the news cycle last year. You couldn’t buy a better awards campaign.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE — MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"

James Corden, "The Prom"

Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Hamilton"

Dev Patel, "The Personal History of David Copperfield"

Andy Samberg, "Palm Springs"

SHOULD WIN Samberg. This is another weak comedy category, but Samberg brings some charm to the role of a slacker stuck in a time loop.

WILL WIN Cohen, as the incompetent foreign correspondent Borat. (Which would be amusing coming from the HFPA.)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Glenn Close, "Hillbilly Elegy"

Olivia Colman, "The Father"

Jodie Foster, "The Mauritanian"

Amanda Seyfried, "Mank"

Helena Zengel, "News of the World"

SHOULD WIN Zengel. As a frontier girl raised partly by the Kiowa people, she’s impressively fierce while saying barely a word.

WILL WIN Seyfried, whose performance as a witty screen siren is a bright spot in "Mank." Don’t be surprised, however, if Colman or Close wins this race.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sacha Baron Cohen, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"

Daniel Kaluuya, "Judas and the Black Messiah"

Jared Leto, "The Little Things"

Bill Murray, "On the Rocks"

Leslie Odom Jr., "One Night in Miami …"

SHOULD WIN Odom. As the soul icon Sam Cooke, Odom oozes sophistication and charm. Plus, he can sing almost as well as the man himself.

WILL WIN Kaluuya. Ever since his breakout turn in "Get Out," he’s been inching closer to big-time gold. Playing the Black activist Fred Hampton could be the push he needs.

BEST DIRECTOR

Emerald Fennell, "Promising Young Woman"

David Fincher, "Mank"

Regina King, "One Night in Miami …"

Aaron Sorkin, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"

Chloé Zhao, "Nomadland"

SHOULD WIN Zhao. She’s one of a record-setting three women to be nominated in this category. If she wins, she’ll be only the second female director to do so after Barbra Streisand, for 1983’s "Yentl."

WILL WIN Zhao.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"Fight for You" — "Judas And The Black Messiah"

"Hear My Voice" — "The Trial of the Chicago 7"

"Io Sì (Seen)" — "The Life Ahead"

"Speak Now" — "One Night In Miami …"

"Tigress & Tweed" — "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday"

SHOULD WIN "Speak Now." As performed by Leslie Odom, Jr. (who co-wrote it), it’s a smooth soul track that echoes the Black pop classics of the Civil Rights Era.

WILL WIN "Speak Now."

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