Golden Globes 2021: Nomadland starring Frances McDormand wins best dramatic film

Chloé Zhao becomes only the second woman, after Barbra Streisand, to win best director

The 78th Golden Globes Awards, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), have been announced in a lively, largely virtual event that linked the east and west coasts of the United States. Tina Fey, broadcasting from (where else?) 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, and Amy Poehler, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, addressed remote nominees on couches and kitchen stools throughout the world.

Chloé Zhao's Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as a financially embarrassed senior adrift in a lonely America, won best dramatic film and, already winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, solidified its status as favourite for best picture at the Oscars. Ms Zhao became only the second woman — after Barbra Streisand nearly 40 years ago — to win best director at the Globes.

Chadwick Boseman, who died tragically young last August, became a rare posthumous acting winner for his role as a troubled jazz musician in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Few moments in Globes history have been so moving as the acceptance speech from Boseman's widow Taylor Simone Ledward.

“He would thank God,” she said through tears. “He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices.” Boseman took the prize for best actor in a drama.


In a huge shock, Andra Day, probably the least fancied of the five nominees, won best actress in a drama for her brilliant turn as the title character in The United States vs Billie Holiday.

Sacha Baron Cohen took a few amusing digs at Rudy Giuliani, his reluctant co-star in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, when accepting the award for best musical or comedy film. Cohen also triumphed as best actor in a comedy or musical. "Donald Trump is contesting the result," he said. "He's claiming that a lot of dead people voted. Which is a very rude thing to say about the HFPA."

Alas, none of the Irish nominees grabbed a Globe. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolfwalkers, from Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon, lost best animated feature to Soul, the latest from Pixar, but the historical fantasy remains in serious competition for the upcoming Oscars.

Brendan Gleeson, nominated for playing Donald Trump in The Comey Rule, lost to John Boyega for best supporting actor in a TV series. Normal People, the hit Sally Rooney adaption, couldn't get past The Queen's Gambit for best miniseries.

It has been a difficult year for the organisers. As well as the ongoing pandemic, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has presented the awards since 1944, has had to cope with embarrassing revelations in the Los Angeles Times.

The paper claimed that the non-profit organisation had paid nearly $2 million dollars to its members. It was suggested that the makers of Emily in Paris, which received two nominations, had treated voters to a luxury stay in Paris. Adding embarrassment upon embarrassment, the Times also noted that not one of the 87 members is black.

Fey and Poehler, in their split-screen opening monologue, could not reasonably ignore that last awkwardness. Fey described the HFPA as “around 90 non-black journalists”. She ended by noting that: “You’ve got to change that. We’re looking forward to that change.”

The HFPA will have been relieved that the first two awards went to black (British, as it happened) actors. Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor in a film for his turn as Fred Hampton, prominent member of the Black Panther Party, in Judas and the Black Messiah. John Boyega won for Steve McQueen's Small Axe.

They will have been less happy that Kaluuya's audio went dead as he began his acceptance speech, but the technical problems were soon ironed out. Three representatives of the HFPA emerged shortly afterwards to make an awkward commitment to change. "We must have black journalists in our organisation," Helen Hoehne, a German member, deadpanned.

There were more surprises. Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian actor who came from nowhere to steal Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, was expected to take best actress in a musical or comedy, but a visibly surprised Rosamund Pike received the prize for the thriller I Care a Lot.

“In my movie I had to swim up from a sinking car. I’d rather do that than be in a room with Rudy Giuliani. Maria, I salute your brilliance and your bravery,” she said.

Jodie Foster, curled up on the couch with her wife and dog, seemed equally astonished to pass out Amanda Seyfried, strong favourite for Mank, in the best supporting film actress race. "I am a little speechless. I just never expected to be here again," she said. Foster won for her role as lawyer Nancy Hollander in Kevin Macdonald's Guantanamo Bay drama The Mauritanian.

In the TV section, the Globes continued its love affair with The Crown. Josh O'Connor, who plays Prince Charles, and Emma Corrin, Princess Diana in the Netflix show, won lead acting prizes. Gillian Anderson, Margaret Thatcher in the current season, took best supporting actress for a TV series. The show also won best drama series.

Under normal circumstances, the presentation of the Cecil B DeMille Award — the Globe's lifetime achievement gong — to Jane Fonda would have generated the most rapturous of standing ovations. Ever the professional, Fonda made the best of the more low-key ceremony. The word "diversity" appeared more than once in a speech that implicitly addressed the HFPA's awkward controversies.

“There is a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry,” she said. “A story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who we offer a seat at the table and who is kept out of the room where decisions are made. Let’s all of us — including those who decide who gets hired and who wins awards — let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent.”

The Globes have only limited value as predictors for the upcoming Academy Awards, but the winners here can now claim to have a precious commodity: momentum. We will learn if that matters when the Oscar nominations emerge on March 15th.


Best Motion Picture – Drama


Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Director – Motion Picture

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made For Television

The Queen’s Gambit

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Supporting Role

Gillian Anderson, The Crown

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a by Motion Picture

Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian

Best Television Series – Drama

The Crown

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language


Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Josh O’Connor, The Crown

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Schitt’s Creek – Pop TV

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Soul: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Emma Corrin, The Crown

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture Made For Television

Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Best Motion Picture – Animated


Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role

John Boyega, Small Axe

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah