My Immediate Reactions to the 2021 Golden Globes Winners

Shocks, Surprises, and Snubs (Oh My?)

I want to just start off by saying, this year's Globes was really not that bad as far as winners and nominees go. Yes, I'm fully aware of the Emily in Paris/I May Destroy You controversy. That one was egregious. But, aside from that, I honestly couldn't complain if I tried. The only other complaint I would have is that Ricky Gervais did not host again this year. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey gave exactly what was expected of them as hosts and the guests they had were equally subpar in their attempts at comedy. Now, I do also want to point out: I do not care that much about the Television Awards. What I will say I cared about was The Crown sweeping everything and The Queen's Gambit and Anya Taylor Joy winning. Congratulations to them. That's the only thing I want to say about the Television portion of the Globes. There were a lot of front-runners who won, but some surprises and shocking moments snuck up on us. I'll dive into what those were.

Okay, moving on. Let's get to the meat of it.

Best Original Song

This category had a clear front-runner going into it: "Speak Now" from One Night in Miami (written and performed by Leslie Odom Jr.). Many experts believed that this would be the easy winner. And quite frankly, I thought it might sweep awards season. But then, out of freaking nowhere “IO SÌ (SEEN)” — THE LIFE AHEAD by Diane Warren won the night. No one expected it to win. This may or may not help its Oscar chances, but who's to say when the Globes seemingly have no bearing on the Academy Awards. I could, however, see it gaining a nomination now. But, even with this surprise upset, I still see Speak Now winning at the Oscars regardless.

Best Original Score

This had no surprises attached to it. I've mentioned in earlier articles that the score from Soul by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and John Batiste had been sweeping the Critics Awards across the nation. Reznor and Ross had a double nomination for that and their score from Mank. I also firmly believe that they will receive a double nomination for their work in these films at the Oscars, as well. Now, their score from Soul did end up winning the Globe in this category. I do believe it will go on and sweep all the major awards throughout the circuit.

Best Screenplay

Here's the category that grinded my gears. I felt that there were at least three screenplays I knew of that were deserving of taking home this award. I have not seen The Father yet, so I really couldn't say whether or not it was worthy of winning the prize. However, I have heard just absolutely rave reviews about it, so I would not have been upset at it winning. So, that leaves one that I did not feel should have taken home the award. And that was Aaron Sorkin's mediocre (at best) screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago 7. And guess what? He did come away with the Globe for his lackluster work penning the script. I felt this was the most egregious award of the night, and quite frankly, I think the Hollywood Foreign Press just wanted to see one of their friends win this award. And I think that's exactly what happened. The writing in Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell, Nomadland written by Chloe Zhao, and Jack Fincher's work on the Mank script were all better than Trial...

Waste of a globe, if you ask me.

Best Director

This wasn't a shocker, here. But, I was pleasantly surprised that they truly did end up going with the expected winner in Chloe Zhao for her directorial work on Nomadland. The award was well-deserved and I have no complaints in this regard. She was the first Asian American woman to win this award and only the second woman ever to win Best Director at the Globes. I was very glad to see her win and her speech was inspirational, humble, and compassionate.

Best Supporting Actor

I was ecstatic to see Daniel Kaluuya win for his powerful portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. There are rumblings about stating that he will sweep the awards circuit after taking home the Globe. Although this was expected and not at all a surprise, it was still so nice to see someone deserving win actually based on merit. I do feel that this film is being wrongfully faded in nearly every other category, and it's honestly flabbergasting, given that it's the best film of the year so far. Granted, this could be because Warner Bros is dropping the ball on their campaigning, but it's still confounding nonetheless. All that aside, I am still proud of and happy for Daniel Kaluuya for his outstanding work on this magnificent film.

Best Supporting Actress

This was quite possibly the biggest shocker of the night. Many experts expected either Olivia Colman for The Father, Amanda Seyfried for Mank, or Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy to win here. Even newcomer Helena Zengel for News of the World could have jumped in there and snuck away with the award for her impressive work in her first major role. Alas, it was Jodie Foster for her work in The Mauritanian who walked away with the Globe in a surprise upset win. Many have not even seen this film, myself included. It is fairly widely known that Jodie Foster is a friend of the Hollywood Foreign Press, so I guess it's no real surprise she came away with the win here. Granted, it was still a huge shock to not only the women who expected to win, but also the experts, critics, and industry members who predicted one of the three would ultimately come away with it. I do fear that this could hurt Amanda Seyfried's chances at the Oscars as she was overlooked at SAG this year. I felt she needed to emerge victorious at the Globes for her to solidify her run. I also felt really bad for Helena Zengel because she did appear quite upset on that Zoom screen when she heard she had not won. As for Foster's Oscar prospects, I personally do not feel she will gain a nomination as her performance nor the film as a whole has been gaining any traction with voters and I believe that the field has ultimately been solidified when it comes to five performances being nominated.

Best Foreign Language Film

This was another case that was no surprise whatsoever. Lee Isaac Chung's heartwarming portrait of immigrants making it in 80s America Minari took home this award. I suspect, even though this was well deserved, that it was essentially a consolation prize since the Globes screwed it out of contention for the ceremony's top prize. The Globes had to cover their own asses after so many controversies, including this one, had plagued them in the days leading up to the COVID-laden, Zoom-driven ceremony. Lee Isaac Chung, the writer/director/producer of the film, accepted the award and gave a speech that was heartfelt and genuine, much like the film. However, he did insert what felt like a direct jab at the Globes, stating that, "It goes deeper than any American language, and any foreign language." While I agree with the sentiment, it still did feel like a needed and warranted jab at the Globes for not including them in the running for Best overall Drama of the night, just because most of it was in Korean instead of English. But, this was an American made, filmed, and produced film. Many felt it should have been included, but the Globes continue on with outdated and ultimately asinine requirements/criteria for their awards.

Best Motion Picture - Animated

This was no surprise once again. Pixar's Soul took home this award, quite deservedly but unsurprisingly. It was the clear front-runner and I believe it will go on to win even more throughout the course of Awards Season. Granted, there still was the feeling that Wolfwalkers might upset Soul, given that it took home the vast majority, if not all of the Critics Awards across the country. I also feel that if there's any film that can take down Soul, it's Wolfwalkers. The other reason I had that creeping feeling was because a lot of the time, the Globes gives awards that are surprising and unique to their ceremony, and not just in the Animated Feature Film category. Last year, Missing Link won in this category and although it received an Oscar nomination, there was still the lingering feeling that it had absolutely no shot at winning. Even though it would have felt like a quirky, esoteric pick for the Globes, I still feel that it would be meritorious for Wolfwalkers. I loved Wolfwalkers and that can be seen in my review. I really cannot lose here, because Soul was one of my favorite films of the year in 2020.


This would come as no surprise to anyone who knows that the Golden Globes have awarded Sacha Baron Cohen for his performance as Borat over a decade and a half ago. Cohen received the Globe for his portrayal of the same character but now in the sequel. There was a lingering feeling that they might reward Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton. Palm Springs even had some momentum around it where comedic writing and performances were concerned. But, it turned out being a Sacha fest as they not only awarded him, but also his film.


And now we arrive at the second biggest surprise of the night. There had been somewhat of an air of mystery around these supporting performances by women, as far as what would win and be nominated. But, for anyone who has been following the awards circuit to this point, you would know that Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm had been the odds-on favorite. She had practically swept the entire Critics Awards clear across the nation - to the point where it ceased being a joke, but rather, compulsory to nominate her. With this in mind, I thought she had it easy. In a shocking turn of events, Rosamund Pike had won for the recent dark comedy/thriller/satire I Care A Lot which is increasing in popularity. Despite the fact that the film itself is a complete swing and a miss, her performance has been widely praised. Personally, I felt that it was merely just an inferior imitation of her performance as Amazing Amy in Gone Girl. Regardless of what I think and feel, the Globes felt the need to honor her and I may not respect the decision, but I respect Pike as a person, and her talent as an actor. I do not feel that this will earn her an Oscar nomination, but this category is pretty wide open and anything could happen.

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

As I alluded to earlier, it was a Sacha fest where comedy and acting were concerned. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm took home this award. While I'm not upset at this (I did enjoy the film), I still felt there was a superior choice in Palm Springs. I am happy for Sacha Baron Cohen as he is a comedic genius and he certainly deserves recognition for this.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama

This is quite possibly one of the least surprising choices of the night, as Chadwick Boseman was the posthumous recipient of this award for his tremendous work in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. He was the clear front-runner in this category and it really wasn't even close. His wife accepted on his behalf and gave an emotional, heartfelt, and genuine speech which tugged at the heartstrings and waterworks of many. I do not say that it was "the least surprising" in a negative connotation whatsoever, but rather, in respect of his unbelievable talent and his authentic, good-hearted nature and spirit as a person. I say that it was not surprising that he won because of how far ahead of the pack he was with his outstanding performance. Chadwick was a remarkable talent and an even better human being and I simply cannot imagine where his career might have gone had he beaten the unbeatable. He will truly be profoundly missed.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama

This is a major contender for biggest upset of the night. Arguably the most crowded, tightest race throughout the entire awards circuit, I firmly believe any of the five could easily be seen as winners across the board. Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman. Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Frances McDormand in Nomadland. Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman. And finally, Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Each and every one of these unbelievable performances are awards-worthy in my mind. Mulligan was just barely the odds-on favorite to win for her dynamic performance in Promising Young Woman, and that's who I fully expected to win. McDormand and Davis were essentially tied for second as the runners-up for their equally impressive performances in their respective films. And, as I've stated in previous articles, Vanessa Kirby's powerful and profoundly emotional performance in Pieces of a Woman is yet another winner in my eyes. When all was said and done, Andra Day emerged victorious in a stunning upset win for her wide-ranged portrayal of Billie Holiday. Even she was stunned on her Zoom screen when she realized she had won. In the moment, it was clear to see that Carey Mulligan was quite disappointed, even frustrated. And rightfully so! She's earned her due and deserves more recognition for what I believe to be the best performance of the year. In any case, I was happy for Day as I enjoyed her outstanding performance which carried what is otherwise a film that ultimately missed the mark. But, she, on the other hand, did not. And for that, I do hope she receives an Oscar nomination (she very well might!).

Best Motion Picture - Drama

And now, finally the biggest award of the night. As I mentioned earlier, Minari should have been nominated in this category, but it was left off for pretty arbitrary and outdated reasons. In any case, the front-runner in this category by a narrow margin was The Trial of the Chicago 7. I feared this would take home the top award of the night because I personally feel that by rewarding mediocrity, we would be diminishing cinema as an artform. The other nominees in this category that could potentially take down this lackluster candidate were Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, The Father, and Mank. Now, again, I had not seen The Father so I could not speak to the quality of storytelling and such, but I trust the many experts, critics, and other industry members who claim it is a worthy adversary to 'Trial.' The others I have seen, Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, and Mank, I did feel that any of these could have won and I would have been satisfied with the end result. I feel that all of them are of the utmost quality and I could not lose. Luckily, this is how the night turned out and Chloe Zhao's beautiful portrait of living the nomadic lifestyle in America did emerge victorious. Nomadland has solidified itself as the outright frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, bringing Trial of the Chicago 7 down a peg. It will be fascinating to see how that race shakes out as Trial... still has a good shot at winning the top prize at the Oscars, and potentially other awards ceremonies along the way.


So, what do you guys think? Were you happy with the winners? Sad? Surprised? Angry?


Let me know in the comments below, or feel free to DM me on social media!

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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