Golden Globes 2021: A stunning year for women filmmakers. And, again, for Netflix

Donald Clarke on the female-led best-director nominees and the streaming giant’s 42 nods

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has recognised a healthy wad of Irish talent with its nominations for this month's Golden Globe Awards. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolfwalkers, produced by Cartoon Saloon, in Kilkenny, was an inevitable nominee for best animated feature. Brendan Gleeson also landed a predicted nod as best supporting TV actor for his role as Donald Trump in The Comey Rule.

Pundits expected Normal People, Element Pictures' adaptation of Sally Rooney's hit novel, to get its two nominations, but those tipsters may been surprised at how the mentions fell. The series received a shortlisting as best limited TV series, but Paul Mescal, the male lead, failed to score in the corresponding acting race. Daisy Edgar-Jones, electric as Marianne, was, however, nominated as best actress in a limited series. To this point, the English actor, shut out at the Emmys when Mescal was nominated, has been somewhat underacknowledged.

For the first time, a majority of the nominees for best director were women. To this point, only five have been nominated in the category throughout the awards' history

"It's brilliant news during a very trying lockdown for everyone," says Ed Guiney, producer of Normal People. "I'm so proud and thrilled for the entire team. And it's amazing for Daisy to be properly highlighted, although obviously sad that Paul didn't get a nod."

Saoirse Ronan missed out on a nomination for her role in Francis Lee's Ammonite. That handsome film, featuring the Irish actor and Kate Winslet as lovers in 19th-century Dorset (and which will have its Irish premiere next month), opened to some acclaim at Toronto International Film Festival but has registered only limply with awards predictors.

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The film nominations, which traditionally offer vague pointers towards Oscar success, spread the wealth liberally. The best-drama-film nominees comprise The Father, a searing story of dementia starring Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins; Mank, David Fincher's drama set amid the creation of Citizen Kane; Chloé Zhao's Nomadland, featuring Frances McDormand as a boomer adrift; Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman, a revenge scorcher; and Aaron Sorkin's characteristically talky The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Mank scored the most film nominations, with an impressive six, but Zhao’s picture, first to win both the Golden Lion, at Venice Film Festival, and the People’s Choice at Toronto, remains favourite for the best-picture Oscar. The Trial of the Chicago 7 was in second place, with five nominations.

Two stories stand out. It has been a stunning year for women filmmakers. For the first time, a majority of the nominees for best director were female. Zhao, Fennell and Regina King, director of One Night in Miami, are all up for that gong. To this point, only five women have been nominated in the category throughout the awards' history.

Second, the domination of Netflix continues. The streaming giant clocked up a huge 42 nominations across television and film. The Crown, the digital studio's most prestigious series, secured six mentions. Netflix productions and acquisitions taking nominations in the film section included The Prom, Mank, Pieces of a Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Their rivals at Amazon can console themselves with strong showings for One Night in Miami, story of a meeting between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Sam Cooke, and the surprisingly resilient Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Sacha Baron Cohen's mockumentary competes in best musical or comedy film against The Prom, Palm Springs, Disney+'s filmed version of Hamilton and – one of the day's big surprises –Sia's Music, a directorial debut for the Australian singer.

The rise of Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian breakout star of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, has been one of the more inspiring stories in the current, unusual awards season. An Oscar nomination seems certain

Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian breakout star of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, secures a predicted nomination as best actress in a comedy or drama. Her rise has been one of the more inspiring stories in the current, unusual awards season. An Oscar nomination seems certain.

Taraji P Henson and Sarah Jessica Parker presented the nominations online from remote locations. Like every other awards ceremony, the Golden Globes have had to alter eligibility rules in response to the Covid emergency. The ceremony is still scheduled to be broadcast live from the Beverly Hilton, in Los Angeles, on February 28th. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host for the fourth time.

The members of the Hollywood Press Association – about just 90 members – have been voting on the Globes since 1944. The ceremony is usually that bit more informal and boozy than the Oscars. It will interesting to see if the party atmosphere survives Covid rearrangements.