LOS ANGELES — There’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to the mercurial Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its Golden Globe nominations, but this year saw a number of surprises, like the dominance of Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney film “Vice,” and a number of truly shocking exclusions.
THEY CHOSE THE WRONG SAM
This was supposed to be Sam Elliott’s year. The veteran character actor delivered a powerful performance as Jackson Maine’s brother in “A Star Is Born,” which many still think will earn the 74-year-old his first ever Oscar nomination. But the HFPA had a different plan for the baritone-voiced Elliott (a two-time Globes nominee), and instead, surprised with a supporting actor nomination for Sam Rockwell’s turn as George W. Bush in “Vice.”
“COLD WAR” ICED OUT
Poland’s “Cold War,” one of the most highly acclaimed foreign language films of the year, was shockingly shut out of the foreign language category. There were a few locks, like Mexico’s “Roma,” from director Alfonso Cuaron, Lebanon’s “Capernaum” and even Japan’s “Shoplifters.” But Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cannes-winning romance between two mismatched people was supposed to be one as well. Belgium’s “Girl,” a Netflix film, was the surprise inclusion here. The film about a transgender girl training to be a ballerina has been the subject of some criticism for its depiction of trans people.
When it comes to television the HFPA has tended to favor the new, but many were surprised to see “Atlanta” left off the list for best television series, musical or comedy, which included such unexpected choices as “Kidding” and “The Kominsky Method.” Donald Glover scored an acting nomination for the series, however.
AND THE FEMALE DIRECTORS?
Following in the footsteps of the American Film Institute, none of the 10 films nominated for best picture (comedy/musical and drama) were directed by a woman, nor were any of the five directing nominees women. It is surprising in a year that has had acclaimed and awards buzzy films such as Marielle Heller’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” Tamara Jenkins’ “Private Life” and Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace.” Jenkins’ film, and the performances from Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn was shut out completely.
MOSTLY CRICKETS FOR “A QUIET PLACE”
John Krasinski’s celebrated mostly-silent horror sensation “A Quiet Place” got only one nomination, and a curious one at that, for Marco Beltrami’s score of all things. Krasinski was expected to be a bigger player, for director (his debut), screenwriting, and even acting alongside his wife Emily Blunt, who did get her own best actress nomination for “Mary Poppins Returns.”
CRITICAL DARLING “FIRST REFORMED” SHUT OUT
Paul Schrader’s punishing drama “First Reformed” about a protestant minister played by Ethan Hawke got a handful of Independent Spirit Award nominations, was selected by the National Board of Review and AFI as one of the top films of the year and won big at the Gotham Awards. But the film and Hawke were left out completely. The studio behind it, A24, had a difficult year in general with the Globes, securing only one nomination for Elsie Fisher’s breakout performance in the coming-of-age movie “Eighth Grade.”
NO LOVE FOR MICHAEL. B JORDAN
Michael B. Jordan had a banner year, both critically and at the box office, with his tour de force supporting performance in “Black Panther,” and then reprising his role as Adonis Creed in “Creed II.” Then again, the HFPA also snubbed him for the first “Creed” as well (Stallone won that year for the film).
THE “FIRST MAN” QUESTION REMAINS
Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong drama “First Man” remains a big awards season question mark, and the Golden Globes didn’t really help to shine a light on which way it might go. Chazelle didn’t get a nomination, nor did screenwriter Josh Singer or star Ryan Gosling. But the film did score two interesting nominations, Justin Hurwitz for his score, and Claire Foy for her supporting role as Armstrong’s wife Janet.
AN OFF YEAR FOR THE PEARSON FAMILY
NBC’s “This is Us” was conspicuously left empty handed when it came to the Globes nominations. Just last year it was up for drama series, supporting actress (Chrissy Metz), and actor (Sterling K. Brown, who won).
DYSTOPIAN SHOWING FOR ‘THE HANDMAID’S TALE’
The Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel has been an awards darling since the beginning, and even became the first streaming series to win the Golden Globe for best television series in its first year. But this year, it was left out of the drama category entirely. Elisabeth Moss got the sole nomination for the series for best actress, a prize she’s won before.
SOME HAPPY SURPRISES
Charlize Theron and Robert Redford both scored lead acting nominations for films that seemed to have slipped off the awards radar: Theron, as a stressed-out mother in “Tully,” and Redford, as a gentleman bank robber in “The Old Man and the Gun.”