Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises: Harry Styles, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lawrence, ‘The Rings of Power’ and More

19 mins read

This is a make-or-break year for the Golden Globes, and for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the awards. And therefore an intense spotlight was on the nominations this morning.

In 2021, after a series of damning investigative stories in the Los Angeles Times — about the HFPA’s lack of inclusivity, and its shady ethical practices — Netflix, WarnerMedia and a number of personal publicists announced they would boycott the Globes, causing NBC to scrap the ceremony’s annual broadcast. Since then, the HFPA has embarked on a number of reforms, meant to curb the organization’s formerly open-secret graft and to diversify its ranks — it now has six Black members up from, well, zero (and it added 21 new members overall). In January, then in disgrace, the HFPA held a members-only private ceremony at the Globes’ home at the Beverly Hilton to bestow their awards to the films and TV shows of 2021 — but without any nominees in attendance.

But here’s the thing: as far as awards ceremonies go, the Golden Globes are pretty fun! And its early January date has also served the purpose of formally kicking off the awards season calendar. So in September, when the HFPA, NBC and producer Dick Clark Productions announced that the 80th annual ceremony would return from exile and once again be broadcast nationally — albeit on a lowly Tuesday (Jan. 10), and not in its old, more prestigious Sunday slot — many in Hollywood greeted the news with relief.

And also some skepticism. Campaigning for the Globes has certainly changed, and become much more muted. It’s still unclear which nominees will attend, and what they’ll say about it if they do. The HFPA certainly took a step in the right direction by hiring Jerrod Carmichael to be the show’s host, and he will 100% roast them, which will be delightful to watch.

But let’s get to the nominations themselves. In movies, the Globes once again neglected to nominate any women in the best director category. Otherwise, the biggest surprises of the (extremely early — why, why, why) morning were the impressive showing for “Babylon,” the less-than-impressive showing for “Women Talking,” and the utter lack of nominations for Will Smith’s “Emancipation.” Also, Brendan Fraser — who in 2018 accused former HFPA president Philip Berk of groping him, and has already said he wouldn’t attend the ceremony if nominated — was indeed nominated for his performance in “The Whale.” (Berk has since been expelled from the HFPA, not because of Fraser’s allegation, but for sending an internal email calling Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement” in 2021.)

In the TV categories, where the HFPA has always prided itself in favoring new shows, the Globes surprisingly ignored several acclaimed freshman shows, like Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” and Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

One thing about the Globes is the nominations have always been a crapshoot — ask Jordan Peele, whose 2018 horror movie “Get Out” was nominated in the comedy category. Or remind people that the “The Tourist” received multiple nominations! So to the extent that any of this is predictable — though lord knows Variety’s Clayton Davis put in the hours trying — here are the surprise nominations and omissions from the 80th annual Golden Globes nominations.


No Best Actor in a Drama Nomination for Tom Cruise for “Top Gun: Maverick”

If you want to point to the definitive moment that sent the Globes’ to the brink of oblivion in 2021, it was when Tom Cruise decided to return the three Globe trophies he’d won over the years — for “Born on the Fourth of July” (best actor, drama), “Jerry Maguire” (best actor, musical/comedy), and “Magnolia” (best supporting actor) — in protest of the lack of diversity within the HFPA.

It’s impossible to know for certain if that is why the HFPA declined to nominate Cruise for his performance in “Top Gun: Maverick,” a.k.a. the film that single-handedly saved movie theaters. The movie did earn nominations for best picture, drama and best song (for Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand”). But given the near-universal enthusiasm for the film, deep admiration for Cruise’s he’s-still-got-it charisma, and the Globes’ insatiable love of nominating gigantic movie stars, it’s rather surprising that he’s not among this year’s nominees.

Big Surprises in the Movie Actress Categories: No Danielle Deadwyler or Jennifer Lawrence

In a fairly weak year for movies on the whole, there’s actually no shortage of excellent, notable performances by female actors. Yet the Globes did manage to surprise here. The organization passed over the work of Danielle Deadwyler in “Till,” in which she plays the mother of the infamously murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till. Jennifer Lawrence earned her strongest reviews in years for her turn in “Causeway” as a soldier who’s returned home to New Orleans after a traumatic brain injury. Both Deadwyler and Lawrence are considered to be strong contenders as Oscar nominees, and the Globes has absolutely adored Lawrence in the past — she won best actress, musical/comedy for “Joy,” fer chrissakes!

You never know how it works, of course, but perhaps in their places were the nods for Ana de Armas for “Blonde” and awards perennial Olivia Colman for “Empire of Light.” (Good for them, of course! No shade.)

And over in the actress in a musical/comedy category, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” star Lesley Manville was nominated, perhaps in the slot that might have otherwise been occupied by Julia Roberts for “Ticket to Paradise.” (More on this later!)

Will Smith Not Nominated for “Emancipation”

Let’s be honest, if any awards show were going to be embroiled in a scandal involving a world famous acting nominee slapping a world famous presenter, everyone on the planet would’ve bet it would be the Golden Globes. For that matter, if any awards show were going to overlook said scandal and nominate said world famous actor the following year, everyone would’ve bet it would be the Globes.

Instead, Will Smith was banned from the Academy Awards for a decade for striking Chris Rock at the Oscars last year, and the Globes decided not to invite him to their ceremony this year for his performance as a real-life runaway slave who fights in the Civil War in Apple TV+’s “Emancipation” — which earned zero nominations overall.

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” Is Totally Snubbed

When thinking about how the HFPA arrived at the decision to completely ignore Amazon’s lavishly appointed and stirringly performed adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, one is inexplicably reminded of a certain Shania Twain hit: “So you spent almost $1 billion to mount the most expensive TV series ever made, based on the globally beloved works of the pioneer in fantasy storytelling? That don’t impress me much!”

No Nominations for “Yellowjackets” At All 

Showtime’s chilling and thrilling ensemble drama about a girls’ high school soccer team that ends up stranded in the Canadian wilderness when their plane crashes in 1996 — and the lives of the adult survivors 25 years later — aired most of its episodes in 2021, but it was still eligible for the Globes since its last three episodes aired in 2022. It’s Showtime’s first bona fide sensation since “Homeland,” received a bunch of Emmy nominations and it’s exactly the kind of show that the Globes has historically loved to champion in its first season. Instead, it got nothing. Better hope Misty doesn’t hear about it!

Harry Styles Not Nominated for “My Policeman”

If this were literally any other awards show, it would not be a surprise at all that Harry Styles was overlooked for his lovely, if lightweight, performance as a closeted gay man in 1950s England. But this is the Globes, an awards show that has existed to nominate the biggest stars possible. Styles had the added benefit of being the gravitational center of one of the most delicious celebrity conflagrations in years and years. And yet! The Globes said no thank you! The reforms are working! BUT AT WHAT COST?!

Julia Roberts Nominated! But for “Gaslit,” Not “Ticket to Paradise” 

The starry Julia Roberts and Sean Penn limited series “Gaslit,” set during the Watergate scandal, was roundly ignored by the TV Academy during the Emmy nominations — notably so! Roberts also starred this fall — opposite George Clooney — in the delightful romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise,” which was a global box office hit, and was seen as somewhat of a comeback for the beleaguered genre. A great excuse of a nomination if we ever saw one.

And yet! The HFPA chose to nominate Roberts for “Gaslit,” in which she played Martha Mitchell, the “mouth of the South.” Now the organization’s mission will need to be getting Roberts to attend the ceremony.

“RRR” Not Nominated for Best Picture, Musical/Comedy

“RRR” turns the speculative partnership of two of India’s most important revolutionaries into a three-hour, action-musical spectacular — and in doing so became one of the biggest global hits of the year. Given the international credentials of the people doing all the nominating for the Globes, many pundits pegged “RRR” to be one of the view films not in English as a near-lock to break through into the top categories. Alas, it did not, instead earning nods in the international film category and for best song.

Zendaya Nominated for “Euphoria”

Zendaya’s exclusion from the Golden Globes after her work in the first season of “Euphoria” was widely criticized at the time. But she has now won two actress Emmys for the HBO show, in which she plays the struggling high-school student Rue. If they hadn’t nominated her, there would have been a critics’ (and TikTok!) uprising, which now that we’re thinking about it, might have been fun to watch. But better to nominate her, especially since she deserves it. (She is, notably, the only nominee from “Euphoria.”)

“Women Talking” Only Nominated for Screenplay and Score

Coming into awards season, “Women Talking” has been one of those movies that have utterly captivated the people who’ve seen it at film festivals and awards screenings — it will be released on Dec. 23. Set largely in a single location, writer-director Sarah Polley follows a group of Mennonite women who must decide whether to leave their cloistered community, or stay, knowing that men within it have drugged and raped many of them. The ensemble — led by Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whishaw — are uniformly excellent, which could’ve been part of the problem: It’s impossible to single out just one or two for a nomination. But that doesn’t mean the film itself couldn’t have earned nods for best picture, drama or best director. Instead, the HFPA nominated only Polley’s screenplay and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s original score.

Adam Driver Nominated for “White Noise”

If there were going to be an actor named Adam nominated for the Globes this year, most thought it’d be Adam Sandler for his performance as a jaded NBA scout in Netflix’s “Hustle.” Instead, the HFPA went for Adam Driver’s performance as an addled college professor in Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s classic 1985 novel. Driver is the absurdist movie’s only nomination — which is one more than anyone anticipated.

“Babylon” Gets Way More Nominations Than Expected

In looking at how well “Babylon” performed — it’s the third-leading vote-getter with five, tied with “The Fabelmans” (behind “The Banshees of Inisherin’s” eight, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once’s” six) — we must look to ancient Globes history. In other words, we must look back to the extravaganza that was Baz Luhrmann’s over-the-top spectacle “Moulin Rouge!” In 2001, the Globes bestowed six nominations on “Moulin Rouge!,” with it going on to win three, including the top prize for musical/comedy. The reason we’re bringing this up is that Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” is another over-the-top spectacle, one that actually may make “Moulin Rouge” look staid and tame!

“Babylon,” which is Chazelle’s three-hour-plus take on the discontented Hollywood moment when movies were switching from silent films to talkies, is a coked-up extravaganza — and clearly, the HFPA loves it. It received a musical/comedy nomination, of course, and Margot Robbie was nominated for her performance of Nellie LeRoy, a silent film star who’s consistently tripped up by her own self-destructive tendencies. The score by Justin Hurwitz, a double-Oscar-winner for “La La Land,”  was also recognized. None of those are surprises. The ones that weren’t anticipated, and show how much the HFPA loved it, are the nominations for Brad Pitt in supporting, and for newcomer Diego Calva in lead. Globes are gonna Globe!

No Sarah Jessica Parker for “And Just Like That” 

We know, we know, you’re, like, Variety, can you stop being obsessed with “And Just Like That”? And guilty as charged! But the HFPA has always loved SJP. She was nominated multiple times for “Sex and the City,” winning in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The HFPA nominated her for “The Family Stone” in 2006; it even nominated her in 2017 for the widely derided HBO series “Divorce”!

With “And Just Like That,” Parker actually turned in some of the best work of her career, playing a post-Big Carrie Bradshaw-in-mourning. So yes, this is officially an oversight.

Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises: Harry Styles, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lawrence, ‘The Rings of Power’ and More

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