“Culture of Corruption”: The Controversy Surrounding the Golden Globes


Only a couple of times a year, the best-of-the-best filmmakers and artists come together to celebrate the greatest films (and TV) of the year, granting prestigious awards to the most deserving. But before Academy Award and Emmy nominations come out later this year come the controversial Golden Globes. In the past, the Golden Globes has been a night full of questionable jokes, evident presence of alcohol, and witty banter, oftentimes coming off as “unprofessional” to outside viewers. But more so this year than ever, the award ceremony, especially the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or HFPA, are under fire for their lack of representation and recognition for diverse films. Though the ceremony was not aired this past Sunday, January 9th, it was still held, even after serious backlash against the HFPA, who run the ceremony every year.

A little over a year ago, shortly before the 2021 Golden Globes ceremony, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé on the HFPA. The article followed rumors surrounding noticeably skewed nominations that neglected several black-led films. While the HFPA kept much of their organization behind closed doors, the LA Times article pushed all of it into the public eye. The article stated that the HFPA not only had zero black members on their 90 person committee in 2021, but had not had a black member since at least 2002, almost 2 decades ago. This news comes in addition to a lawsuit in which Norwegian entertainment journalist Kjersti Flaa accused the HFPA of creating a “culture of corruption” when she was denied membership despite her qualifications.

Following blurred plans released in May for increasing diversity, such as promising to add 20 black members by the end of 2021 and increasing membership numbers into triple digits, NBC announced they would not be airing the ceremony after 25 years. The HFPA originally planned to still hold the ceremony without televised coverage, as a live stream on their website, but it was announced shortly before the ceremony that that would not be happening. Though the ceremony was unable to be viewed, recipients were named and many films and television series received immense recognition. 

Critical standout, The Power of the Dog, took home 3 awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, and Best Director for a Motion Picture. Jane Campion, the director of the film, is the third woman to have received the award in 78 years, following Barbra Streisand in 1983 and Chloe Zhao in 2021. Not only is this the third win for a female director at the Golden Globes, but the fifth nomination. This year historically had two female directors, the other being Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter

2021 was the year of movie musicals it seemed, with acclaimed films such as Tick…Tick…Boom! and West Side Story receiving nominations. And though it may have received lackluster success in the box office, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake took home ¾ of their awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Rachel Zelger (Maria) in her first professional film role, and Best Supporting Actress in Any Motion Picture to Ariana DeBose (Anita), who will be hosting the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on January 15. Following fan acclaim of Spiderman: No Way Home, audiences were excited to hear of Andrew Garfield’s win for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Jonathan Larson in Tick…Tick…Boom!. Garfield’s TTB co-star MJ Rodriguez also took an award home, though for her portrayal in Pose. Lin Manuel Miranda’s animated fantasy musical Encanto received the award for Best Animated Film. 

Television standouts included Jason Sudeikis in his back-to-back win for his portrayal of the titular character in Ted Lasso, though the series lost Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy to Hacks on HBO. Fan-favorite series The Morning Show left without any awards after receiving 4 nominations. The series has received 7 Golden Globe nominations since its premiere and has yet to bring one home. Korean Drama Squid Game reached mainstream American attention last summer, which may have led to O Yeong-Su (001) receiving the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series. 

Despite monumental progress in gender equality with the awarding of a female director for the second year in a row, the HFPA has still not provided enough concrete evidence of their dedication to improving racial representation.  And unfortunately, talks of bias, bribes, and bigotry in the film industry aren’t uncommon, especially when it comes to awards season. Though the HFPA has announced their plans for reform and increased diversity, NBC has yet to announce whether or not they will air the 2023 Golden Globes.  


For more information on the Los Angeles Times Golden Globes investigation, visit: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-04-21/golden-globes-organization-hfpa-full-coverage

For the full list of winners, visit tinyurl.com/globes2022