Golden Globes Reconsidered
The “Members” page of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association website lists no members.
Instead, it contains a single paragraph which states what the organization is in general terms: a group of “international journalists based in Southern California” that attend “countless movie and television screenings” and put on “the annual Golden Globe Awards.” The membership page goes into zero detail about the makeup of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, like where the members are from or who they write for. It doesn’t even say the exact number of members the group has; “about 90” is as specific as it gets.
This is something that should be kept in mind when watching and discussing the Golden Globes. This is not the work of a large group of movie industry professionals. Nor is it even a tight-knit group of local critics whose membership is transparent and readily available. The Globes are the product of “about” 90 anonymous people, whose whims and reasoning is completely unknown when they do something like name Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody as the two best movies of the year,
And that is totally fine. I mean, I completely disagree with both of those choices, and don’t think they could have picked worse in either category given the nominees they had to choose from. But it’s their group! They have the right to celebrate whatever movies they want, from whatever filmmakers they want. I just don’t think the rest of us should really care about them or put a bit of stock into the results.
But people do. For years, the Globes have been treated like the junior varsity Oscars; the all-important preliminary step on the road to the Academy Awards. And sure, they’re usually an entertaining couple of hours of television, thanks to snarky hosts (although this year’s, Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, were almost disturbingly nice), a glitzy guest list, and a heavy supply of alcohol to help lubricate the unpredictable wheels of live television. I’m all for it on those terms; give me a good boozy hatewatch where celebrities miss their acceptance speeches because they were in the bathroom any day of the week.
The weird part is that the Globes are beloved for all the slip-ups and weirdness and also as this important prognosticator of the Oscars, even though the two shows have zero overlap in terms of voters, and little overlap in terms of taste. The Globes are treated as this crucial bellwether despite numerous alleged stories of HFPA members being wined and dined by studios and then — mysteriously, inexplicably, and totally unrelatedly — giving those same studios’ movies tons of awards. Like the time producers of the musical Burlesque “flew Golden Globes judges to Las Vegas for an all-expenses-paid trip which included luxury hotel accommodation, free meals and a private concert performed by the film’s star, Cher.” Burlesque wound up with 3 Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, and won the Best Original Song prize. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score? 36.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily bother me. What bothers me is that we know all this and still take the Globes relatively seriously. Some Oscar voters today are looking at the results and reconsidering their own attitudes towards Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody — and maybe towards other movies that didn’t fare so well at this year’s Globes, like A Star Is Born. It bums me out to think that deserving films might have their chances at Oscars hurt because of this. That doesn’t seem right. The Globes are a hell of a party and a lousy awards show. So why do we pretend it’s not?
Gallery — Crazy Golden Globe Nominees Through the Ages: