Golden Globes 2021: Who should win, who will win and are any of them Irish?

Wolfwalkers, Brendan Gleeson and Normal People could win in the controversy-hit awards

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, best known for handing out the Golden Globes, will be relieved that Ricky Gervais is not returning to host this year's event. The members and their guests were happy — well, happyish — to endure the English comic's broad digs in previous years.

Recent revelations in the LA Times may, however, have provided just a little too much comedy gold for the HFPA to comfortably bear. The paper suggested, among other things, that the organisation paid members nearly $2 million to serve on committees and to view competing films.

“Our compensation decisions are based on an evaluation of compensation practices by similar nonprofit organisations and market rates for such services,” an HFPA spokesperson responded.

This is not to suggest that the reliably sharp Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will entirely avoid the topic. Reacting with some imagination to the Covid crisis, the HFPA is embarking on the first bi-coastal staging of the Globes. Fey will be at Manhattan's Rainbow Room — situated within 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the building that lent its name to her biggest TV hit — while Poehler returns to the Beverly Hilton in LA, the Globes' usual home.


Recent awards shows such as the Emmys have confirmed that largely online events can (for one year, anyway) work effectively.

Like the upcoming Oscars, for which the Globes offer erratic predictions, eligibility rules have been changed and dates have been shifted. Monday morning’s ceremony (Sunday evening on the LA clock) arrives nearly 14 months after the 2020 event.

As ever, there is Irish talent among the nominees. Brendan Gleeson stands a decent chance of winning best TV supporting actor for his performance as Donald Trump in The Comey Rule.

The hit adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People will, however, have to go some way to get past The Queen’s Gambit and Small Axe in best limited series. Daisy Edgar-Jones, English star of Normal People, also has a fight on her hands as best actress in a limited series.

Still, you never know. With fewer than 90 HFPA members voting, it takes only a tiny surge to turn around the result.

The nation's best hope comes, however, in the more buzzy film section. Both the Golden Globe for best animated feature and the equivalent Oscar category currently look like two-horse races between Soul, Pixar's latest heart-tugger, and Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolkwalkers, another critical smash from Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon.

The Irish operation has already clocked up three Oscar nominations in the feature section, but, after triumphing with the Los Angeles and New York Critics Circles, Wolkwalkers looks like their best chance yet to convert to a win. A triumph at the Globes would suggest, ahead of the Oscar nominations on March 15th, that momentum was behind the Marble City team.

What else to look out for? Despite the shifting of release dates — many of the nominated films are, alas, not yet available to stream in this territory — the Globes have ended up with an arresting list of competitors. David Fincher’s Mank, based around the writing of Citizen Kane, tops the nominations chart with seven spots. Aaron Sorkin’s Trial of the Chicago 7, another historical drama, is just behind with six nods.

But the frontrunner for best dramatic film might still be Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland. Following Frances McDormand’s financially embarrassed senior as she roams the US, the film has been in prime spot since winning the Golden Lion at Venice in early September.

Nomadland will face fierce competition from Mank, Trial of the Chicago 7 and Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman, a striking feminist revenge drama, but Ms Zhao should take best director at a stroll. She would thus, after Barbra Streisand in 1983, become only the second woman to win that prize. Eight women have been nominated in Globe history and three of those are in competition this year: Zhao, Fennell and, for One Night in Miami, Regina King.

Chadwick Boseman is likely to become a rare posthumous acting winner for his role as a troubled jazz musician in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. At time of writing, the African-American star of Black Panther is at a tight 1/4 for the Oscar with major bookmakers.

By splitting some of their film awards between “drama” and “comedy or musical”, the Globes offer opportunities to movies that would otherwise be left out of awards conversation.

The great beneficiary this year is likely to be Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (to give the thing its full title). Sacha Baron-Cohen is a mild favourite for best comedy actor. The film is also a nose ahead for best musical or comedy.

The story of the season, however, is the apparently unstoppable rise of Maria Bakalova. The Bulgarian actor, who plays Borat's unfortunate daughter, could well skip past Michelle Pfeiffer and Rosamund Pike to take best musical or comedy actress. A place in the best supporting actress race (these things are complicated) at the Oscars seems likely for the hitherto unknown performer.

Here is another oddball possibility. Should the filmed version of Hamilton win best comedy or musical — and it could — then it would be the first winner in that category to have been deemed ineligible at the Oscars (again, it’s complicated).

The biggest losers from the downscaling of the ceremony are the recipients of the lifetime-achievement awards. Jane Fonda would, in normal times, have received an ecstatic reception when getting hold of the Cecil B DeMille Award. Norman Lear, creator of such legendary comedies as All in the Family and The Jeffersons, takes the Carol Burnett Award, the equivalent TV gong.

Wiseacres will be keeping an eye on how Jackson Lee and Satchel Lee deport themselves as Golden Globe Ambassadors. Following in the footsteps of Laura Dern (1982) and Melanie Griffith (1975), Spike Lee's children will, as the latest honoured children of the stars, be doing various mid-level hosting duties.

When the HFPA appointed the Lees, they cannot have suspected that Da 5 Bloods, their dad’s latest film, would receive not a single nomination. Awkward!


Best film – drama 

The Father
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Will win: Nomadland
Should win: Promising Young Woman

Best film – musical or comedy 

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Palm Springs
The Prom

Will win: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Should win: Palm Springs

Best director

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Regina King, One Night in Miami
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Will win: Chloé Zhao
Should win: Chloé Zhao

Best actress in a film – drama

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Will win: Frances McDormand
Should win: Vanessa Kirby

Best actor in a film – drama

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian

Will win: Chadwick Boseman
Should win: Riz Ahmed

Best actor in a film – musical or comedy 

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
James Corden, The Prom
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Dev Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield
Andy Samberg, Palm Springs

Will win: Sacha Baron Cohen
Should win: Dev Patel

Best actress in a film – musical or comedy 

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
Anya Taylor-Joy, Emma
Kate Hudson, Music
Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot

Will win: Maria Bakalova
Should win: Maria Bakalova

Best supporting actress

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Helena Zengel, News of the World

Will win: Amanda Seyfried
Should win: Helena Zengel

Best supporting actor

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Jared Leto, The Little Things
Bill Murray, On the Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr, One Night in Miami

Will win: Daniel Kaluuya
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya

Best film – foreign language 

Another Round 
La Llorona 
The Life Ahead 
Two of Us

Will win: Minari
Should win:Another Round

Best screenplay 

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Jack Fincher, Mank
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton, The Father
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Will win: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Should win: Nomadland

Best film – animated 

The Croods: A New Age 
Over the Moon 

Will win: Soul
Should win: Wolfwalkers

Best score – film 

Alexandre Desplat, The Midnight Sky
Ludwig Göransson, Tenet
James Newton Howard, News of the World
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Mank
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, Soul

Will win: Soul
Should win: News of the World

Best original song – film

Fight for You, Judas and the Black Messiah
Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead
Speak Now, One Night in Miami
Tigress & Tweed, The United States vs Billie Holiday

Will win: Speak Now
Should win: Fight for You