OPINION: How deserving were the 2021 Golden Globe Award winners?

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Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman who has recently lost her job and home in the recession and starts to live as a nomad, in Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland.” “Nomadland” took the major prize of Best Picture – Drama at the 2021 Golden Globes Awards. Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Bradley Hinkson

Love it or hate it, awards season is here. We all know that a lot of these major awards are meaningless in the long run to a film’s quality or lasting power. We also know that so many films don’t get any sort of attention that they deserve, and usually these nominations only scratch the surface on some great films, and sometimes even bad films are nominated. But it’s still a little fun to talk about them. 

The Golden Globes held its ceremony on different coasts with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler each hosting from different stages on different coasts and many of the stars sitting at home by their webcams. There was nothing more awkward and hilarious than right before each commercial break when these celebs were put into what were essentially “breakout rooms” and had to socialize. It went as well as you’d expect. They had to wake up poor Al Pacino from his nap. Let the man rest! 

There were celebrities doing bits to pad the time. Though, I have no complaints about Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo coming out on stage as their characters from “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar.” They are the people we need right now on the power of not only friendship, but of the name Trish. Makes you wonder why they didn’t host — maybe we can start that petition to get them to host the Oscars.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the ceremony was the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s, the voting body behind the Golden Globes, lack of Black voters. It’s contradictory to their emphasis on celebrating diverse voices in their awards when they can’t even hire some of those voices. 

So of course, they addressed this during the show by having some of the heads come up on stage. Was it done well? Oh, of course not. It was very out of touch and felt like what happens when someone gets caught doing something and they just say they won’t do it again. There was a complete lack of understanding of the bigger picture at hand of the lack of diversity in the industry itself. 

Though what do we expect from the HFPA at this point? This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and I doubt it’ll be the last.

https://twitter.com/hunteryharris/status/1366199446032236552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

But with all that baggage out of the way, who won the film awards? Were they deserved? Let’s take a look.

(No television awards because, well, most of what won are things I don’t watch. Sorry. Though I am more that ecstatic for John Boyega’s win for his fantastic performance in “Small Axe” and Anya Taylor-Joy for “The Queen’s Gambit.”)

Best Picture – Drama

Winner: “Nomadland”

Deserved?: Completely. “Nomadland” to me is an empathetic look at the life of nomads and those who try to find a metaphorical home when they don’t have a real one. It’s one of the best films of last year and it is more than deserving of its win. Especially if it got to beat “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and whatever that movie tried to do. For now, this has the clearest and easiest path to Best Picture at the Oscars.

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical

Winner: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Deserved?: Sure, why not. It’s a funny film that is nearly as successful as the first film in exposing the worst of American culture. Honestly, the Rudy Giuliani scene was such a big talking point it would have been surprising if this film didn’t win. Though I am a sucker for a good rom-com so, of course, I’m a big fan of “Palm Springs” and was kinda hoping for that even if I knew it wouldn’t win.

This category this year was kind of a disaster anyway. “The Prom” feels like a crime, “Hamilton” isn’t even a movie so who knows how that got there, and I’m not touching “Music” with a 10-foot pole.

Best Actor – Drama

Winner: Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Deserved?: Of course. Boseman was an absolute talent who will always be missed. His performance here is sadly his last, but it’s quite the performance to go out on because it’s one of his best, if not the best. It’s a powerhouse performance that would have garnered Boseman award buzz whether he unfortunately passed or not. 

It was a strong category this year, and Boseman winning just shows what kind of talent he had. Hopefully this isn’t the only posthumous award he gets this season.

Best Actress – Drama

Winner: Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”

Deserved?: Well, this was the big surprise of the night. Day kind of came into the awards conversation a bit late, mostly due to the film’s later release date, but it’s no surprise as her performance is quite stellar. Though the film never matches the quality of her performance, it’s still praiseworthy especially for her first major performance.

In no way am I annoyed at this win; she’s pretty deserving of it even if she had quite the competition with Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Frances McDormand in “Nomadland” being the front runners. It’s just the most surprising, and it’s going to be interesting to see where Day goes from here.

Best Actor – Comedy or Musical

Winner: Sacha Baron Cohen for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Deserved?: I can just kind of reiterate what I said in the Best Film – Comedy or Musical section. Cohen does seem like the most obvious choice for the impact the film had. He’s a talented performer who gets into the character so well that even in 2020, some people bought into it. 

I was rooting for Andy Samberg in “Palm Springs,” but I knew he didn’t have a chance. I don’t even want to imagine the reaction that would have happened if James Corden in “The Prom” had won. 

Best Actress – Comedy or Musical

Winner: Rosamund Pike for “I Care a Lot”

Deserved?: Pike is a dynamite actress who can rock a bob, and despite struggling to find a film that matches her power as an actress since “Gone Girl,” she’s always a delight. Though, is this the performance that deserves her an award? 

Not really. It’s the kind of solid performance Pike can do easily in a film that doesn’t even give her own character the depth Pike is trying to add.

Maria Bakalova should have been the winner here. Her breakout performance in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is a true standout that is hopefully the start of a big career for her. It’s a hilarious and committed performance that shows that she already has the talent to go for it in her roles. Hopefully we’ll see more of her soon.

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Deserved?: Without a doubt. Kaluuya is a powerhouse performer and his performance as Fred Hampton is his best to date. He brings so much of the power that Hampton had as a leader and so much of the real human who cared deeply about helping his community. Kaluuya continues to give great performance after great performance, and his path to an Oscar is much clearer now. I’ll just consider this all payback for not giving him anything for his work in “Widows.” 

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Jodie Foster for “The Mauritanian”

Deserved?: Well, I can’t say. Unfortunately I haven’t seen “The Mauritanian.” I didn’t really expect this to have any sort of award presence, and I’m sure other people were surprised at Foster and Tahar Rahim’s nominations. 

Also like many others, I love Foster, so I’m not annoyed or mad at her win, just confused. Though, I did love her giving her speech in her pajamas sitting on her couch with her wife and dog.

If there was anyone I wanted to win, it was Amanda Seyfried for “Mank,” whom is the highlight of that film with one of her best performances, or Olivia Colman for “The Father,” whom is able to take on the challenge of giving a performance just as good as the legend Anthony Hopkins. 

With this win, it will be interesting to see where Foster goes this awards season, if she goes anywhere, but this was a surprise.

Best Director

Winner: Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland”

Deserved?: Oh yes! Zhao’s direction in “Nomadland” is a wonderful blend of narrative docu-style that helps the film feel so lived-in and filled with so much empathy for the nomads she focuses on. Ever since I saw “The Rider,” Zhao has been someone on my radar, and it’s been so great to see her grow bigger. 

Am I a little heartbroken that her next film is the Marvel film “The Eternals”? A bit, hopefully her voice is still there in the end. Zhao also marks the second woman ever to win Best Director at the Globes since Barbra Streisand for “Yentl” back in 1984. Her win is not only deserved, but pretty monumental.

Best Screenplay

Winner: Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Deserved?: It’s no surprise that Sorkin won the screenplay award, but for this one? The film works well enough as courtroom drama; Sorkin’s dialogue is so theatrical and fast-paced that it works in that setting, but it fails as some sort of call to action focusing on changing a broken system. 

I mean, it’s a film that rewrites real-life leftist activist Abbie Hoffman as a centrist who likes the system we’re under and believes that it’s foundationally good and just filled with some bad apples, which, yikes. Its strong political edge and relevancy are probably what got it the win, but having it be more about changing people and not the system doesn’t work for a story about how the system screws people over makes it feel like a failure. Both “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman” have strong relevancy and better screenplays. 

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner: “Minari”

Deserved?: Absolutely! This is such a tender film that brings such a great perspective on the immigrant experience of the American dream. 

Though, this is in the wrong category. This should have been running in the normal drama category. There is nothing foreign about “Minari,” it’s an American film. It’s an American story. An American story we don’t see enough of in film, but one that is so necessary. The language has nothing to do with the kind of story this is. Am I still happy to see this? Of course, but the placing of this win is frustrating.

A special shout out to Lee Issac Chung’s adorable daughter during his acceptance speech.


The Golden Globes were, well, The Golden Globes. Many wins were expected, though some were deserving, and some were strange surprises. This year we got to have the bonus of the celebrities acting drunk and strange at home and not at the ceremony itself. 

If anything, we got a nice montage of Jane Fonda’s work, and that’s all we really need sometimes, isn’t it?