Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises: Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift and More

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A revamped Golden Globes took the first step into its future on Monday morning with the announcement of the nominees for the 81st edition of the awards ceremony — but if anyone expected the Globes to completely abandon its did-not-see-that-coming reputation, they were sorely disappointed.

No musicals were nominated for best musical or comedy, but “May December” — a melodrama with a deliberately confrontational score — was nominated in that category. Several past TV winners and nominees (Jennifer Aniston, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams) were overlooked. And the two new categories at the Globes this year — for blockbuster movies and TV stand-up specials — also provided some novelty, as well as some surprising omissions, like John Mulaney and “Sound of Freedom.”

The Globes nearly disappeared entirely after a series of Los Angeles Times investigations in 2021 uncovered ethical lapses and a total lack of Black members within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of international journalists who had been the voting body for the Globes since its inception in 1943. The fallout reached its climax in June with the dissolution of the HFPA and the acquisition of the Globes by Dick Clark Prods. in joint venture with Eldridge. By October, the Globes reached 300 voting members that was 47% female and 60% racially and ethnically diverse. (Variety parent company PMC owns Dick Clark Prods.)

All of that change, however, did not quite dilute the maverick spirit of the Globes, which has prided itself on championing emerging talent on television (hooray for “Jury Duty”!) and making atypical film nominations in its musical and comedy categories (Joaquin Phoenix, you get this year’s honorary “The Tourist” award!).

To the extent that anything about this year’s Globes is predictable — and Variety’s Clayton Davis certainly tried! — here are the surprise nominations and omissions from this 81st Golden Globes nominations. (For the full list of nominees, click here.)

“The Color Purple,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Wonka” miss nominations for best musical or comedy

The Globes have always had a rather elastic approach to the musical or comedy category — “The Martian,” what a laugh riot! — but, generally speaking, they make room for at least one musical if there are any that merit inclusion in a given year. This year, there was a plethora of singing and dancing in the movies, first and foremost in “The Color Purple” and “Wonka,” both of which did earn nominations for their respective stars (Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks, and Timothée Chalamet) but somehow came up short in the top category. “The Little Mermaid,” meanwhile, missed out entirely, including for its golden-voiced star, Halle Bailey.

No nominations for Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James or Tyler James Williams from “Abbott Elementary”

Given the love that Quinta Brunson’s ABC comedy has received from the Television Academy at the Emmys, and that Ralph actually won for supporting actress in a comedy after the show’s inaugural season last year, that Ralph, James and Williams didn’t received nominations was a surprise. Their omissions Monday morning were particularly notable since Williams won a Globe in the supporting actor musical-comedy earlier this year. These omissions seem, perhaps, like a direct result of the fact that “Abbott” hasn’t been on since the spring because of the dual strikes, and that out of sight resulted in out of mind for the Globes — though Brunson and the show were both nominated.

Taylor Swift nominated for Blockbuster Movie — but “Sound of Freedom” misses

Leave it to the Globes to race headlong into territory that caused unending controversy for the Oscars in 2018, with a category called “Cinematic and Box Office Achievement.” To the delight of Swifties everywhere, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” — Swift’s precedent shattering concert film — was among the inaugural nominees. To be eligible, a film had to have grossed at least $150 million worldwide, $100 million of that in the U.S. and Canada, which means we have an unusual window into which films specifically did qualify but were overlooked by the Globes for whatever reason, including the year’s most unexpected (and controversial) blockbuster, the independent thriller “Sound of Freedom.” Other popular films that didn’t make the cut included “The Little Mermaid,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Creed III.”

Barry Keogan and Rosamund Pike nominated for “Saltburn”

“Saltburn,” Emerald Fennell’s sophomore feature — after she won the Oscar for original screenplay for “Promising Young Woman,” and was also nominated as director — features delightfully batty performances from its entire cast, so these surprises are pretty fun. Keoghan plays a striving (to say the least!) Oxford student who gloms onto his rich classmate Felix (played by Jacob Elordi), and Pike plays Felix’s mother Elspeth, the daffy matriarch of the Saltburn estate.

No nominations for Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon from “The Morning Show”

After Season 1 of “The Morning Show,” both powerhouse stars were nominated in the Globes’ lead actress in a drama category; for its second season, Aniston was nominated, but Witherspoon wasn’t (a reverse of what the TV Academy would go on to do for Season 2). For its recently completed third season, even though the show was nominated, and Billy Crudup received a nomination in the supporting actor category, both Witherspoon and Aniston were left out of lead actress in a television drama.

“Maestro,” “The Holdovers,” “May December,” “American Fiction” Overlooked as Screenplays

It’s hard to argue with what was included in the Globes’ best screenplay category, since massive hits like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are in here, as well as the gems that are “Past Lives” and “Anatomy of a Fall.” But given that best screenplay isn’t divided into drama and comedy-musical like the best movies categories are, it’s certainly worth noting what ends up being left out. And we’re giving side-eyes to the omissions of Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer’s screenplay for “Maestro,” Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s novel for “American Fiction,” Samy Burch’s screenplay for “May December,” as well as David Hemingson’s for Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers.”

John Mulaney snubbed for best stand-up special

The Globes also introduced a new category for best stand-up comedy special, something the Emmys haven’t ever quite done and makes total sense for today’s TV landscape. And this year’s nominees are not without some controversy: Ricky Gervais’ new special, “Armageddon” — which premieres on Netflix on Dec. 25 — is already catching heat for using an abelist slur, for example, though perhaps Gervais’ frequent stints hosting the Globes won him some favor. The absence of John Mulaney here, however, is truly shocking. His Netflix special, “Baby J,” mined considerable laughter our of the comedian’s high profile stint in rehab and marked a major shift in Mulaney’s approach to comedy. Maybe it was too raw and personal for Globes voters?

No Brett Goldstein love for “Ted Lasso”

For the three seasons of “Ted Lasso,” Goldstein has won two Emmys for supporting actor in a comedy, and has been nominated for a third. He’s been less lucky at the Globes, having been nominated only once in the supporting actor category — for Season 2 of the Apple TV+ comedy. Of course, the supporting actor category for the Globes is ultra-competitive, since it combines drama, comedy and limited series. But even so, on behalf of Goldstein’s Roy Kent, we say, “Grrr.”

More to come.

Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises: Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift and More

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