I have a few thoughts on these Golden Globe nominations, including: In what world am I living where eight men are nominated for their film scores, and somehow not included is the young luminary Mica Levi, whose music for Natalie Portman vehicle Jackie was one of the most jaw-dropping and evocative scores I’ve heard since the one she did for Under the Skin in 2013 (also snubbed)? Levi’s incomparable talent is a glaring omission on this year’s list, one that has me scratching my head and asking a lot of questions.
And, really, did everyone’s screener of Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women just get lost in the mail? I’ll assume that’s what happened. Or perhaps no one could catch it in the slim single week it was in theaters (read: Female-directed films get fucked on distribution and publicity). Because I’m racking my brain trying to figure out how a perfect film that’s as funny as it is dramatic, with such striking cinematography and patience on the part of its director — who’s working with a phenomenal cast — could not get nominated for a single award anywhere. And I have to wonder if it’s because stories about women are still seen as less important (unless directed by a man); all five films nominated for Best Drama focus on troubled men.
Yes, I know that’s par for the course, so it’s easy to simply roll your eyes and move on. But I want us to take a good hard look at what message that sends. Even if Reichardt’s film weren’t on the list, Pablo Larrain’s Jackie — which makes a solid argument that the oft-forgotten stories of women are vital — deserves to be there alongside Barry Jenkins’ brilliant Moonlight.
We can thank the indie-film gods that Moonlight was successfully hyped and brought into theaters across the country, where it could find its laurels and box office. But many other indies directed by women and people of color just won’t get there, no matter how many stellar reviews they receive. Hell, not even the studio pictures about women, made by women, will get there. Look at Mira Nair’s riveting Queen of Katwe , adapted from the true story about a Ugandan girl who uses her phenomenal chess skills to find a way out of the slums. It’s a color-drenched triumph starring two of our greatest actors — David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o — made with the kind of passion that elevates it beyond some of its potential cliché, like some of our most lauded, serious “sports” films. It’s also politically and culturally relevant. But not a peep for this big-budget gem in awards season so far.
So, no, not one woman director is on this list. Yet La La Land — a twee nostalgia piece with very little in the way of actual song or dance, which seems to mistake multiple long tracking shots (which often go out of focus) for a musical — is getting nominations like Foreigner sweeping up panties circa 1979.
Also, I have to ask: What is comedy anymore? Does anybody know? Because Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women is a great movie, but isn’t it really a drama that also has some situational humor? Are we just putting it into the comedy category because it didn’t get a spot on the drama list, which would really make the musical/comedy category some kind of B-team, rather than a completely separate award? Should there be a specific list for drama/comedy? Don’t most good dramas have some kind of comedy?
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And why are we still putting musicals and comedies in the same category, as though they have any semblance to one another? At this point, anybody can produce a “musical” and it’ll make the nominations of musical/comedy, because it’s a novelty, like every musical is handed their little participation trophy, which means worthy comedies don’t even get a chance at the nom. This year — including the dramas that are also wildly funny — I laughed my ass off at Other People, The Lobster, Morris From America, Love & Friendship, Don’t Think Twice, Ghostbusters, Keanu, Maggie’s Plan, The Love Witch and especially Hunt for the Wilderpeople. With two spots taken by “musicals,” not one of these movies gets a shot at awards.
I send a little prayer into the universe for the gods allowing Colin Farrell’s performance in The Lobster to find acknowledgment for its humor — he’s In Bruges–caliber funny in that film. But then I look at Jonah Hill on the same list; was War Dogs a musical? Because I don’t remember this ugly film that glorifies violence and guns while relegating women to Wolf of Wall Street–level subhumans being funny. But then we’re back to the question of what makes a comedy funny — so much more than drama, humor is subjective.
Isn’t Dev Patel the leading man of Lion? Are we treating our Supporting Actor categories like the B-team of the leads instead of honoring the abilities of those who are more practiced in the art of character acting, i.e., supporting their leads?
And oh, dear: Stranger Things. I enjoyed this show as much as the rest of us ’80s babies. The production design was faithfully accurate, storylines retro as can be, but this show, no matter how entertaining it was, is not the caliber for Best Dramatic Television Series. Please, do me a favor and watch the last season of The Americans, and then look me in the eye and tell me straight-faced that Stranger Things deserves to be on this list. It doesn’t, but The Americans does.