The Biggest Snubs and Surprises From the 2021 Golden Globe Nominations

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Netflix. Collage by Maridelis Morales Rosado for W Magazine.

The Golden Globes are always an idiosyncratic awards show. While their nominations are consistently in conversation alongside the choices made by both the Oscars and the Emmys, they have a tendency to go their way. Sometimes, their odd choices seem bold and refreshing—while at other times, they just leave us scratching our heads. This year seems to fall into the latter category. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association excluded all the major Black-led films and television shows from its top categories, pretended Bridgerton simply didn’t exist, and didn’t extend the same buzz to Michaela Coel it lavished on Ricky Gervais and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in years past. They even left Meryl Streep out in the cold. Here, the biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s crop of nominations.

Snub: Bridgerton

The Golden Globes’ television nominations are always hard to parse and predict, but rushing to celebrate the biggest television show on the planet right now generally seems to be within their m.o. (think of the ratings!). Still, the HFPA snubbed Shonda Rhimes’s mega-hit like it was one of the Featherington girls at a ball. Not only was it excluded from the Drama Series race, but the cast went unrecognized as well. Ignore the rising star power of Regé-Jean Page at your own peril, HFPA.

Surprise: Ratched

In Bridgerton’s place, the Globes decided to go with a product from Netflix’s other in-house mega-producer: Ryan Murphy’s Ratched. Despite middling reviews and little positive buzz, the show scored a Best Drama Series nomination. The individual nominations for Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon are a little less shocking (they’re great actors!), but the total haul for the series seems a bit unbalanced given the overall critical and popular consensus around the series.

Snubs: Da 5 Bloods, One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Judas and the Black Messiah for Best Motion Picture—Drama.

Four critically acclaimed films with Black casts all, to varying degrees, still expected to compete for the Oscars’ Best Film category—and yet, four snubs by the Golden Globes. Yes, three of those films received individual nominations for their actors, and Regina King scored a nomination for directing Miami (only Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods was completely shut out). That only makes the exclusions all the more puzzling.

Surprise: Sia’s Music

Sia’s directorial debut, Music, is caught up in a controversy over her less than genial defense of casting a non-autistic actor in an autistic role. The film isn’t out in America yet and has attracted negative reviews and even more controversies in Sia’s native Australia, where it has been released. But the Globes nominated it both for Best Motion Picture—Musical/Comedy and for Kate Hudson’s lead performance. Ironically, though, the film did not receive a Best Original Song nomination despite the fact Sia wrote a whole new album for it.

Snub: Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep holds the records for most competitive wins and most nominations at the Golden Globes. The HFPA loves her. So, while we’re not going to claim this is the world’s biggest injustice, it’s a little surprising she went zero for two this year. Her performance in The Prom seemed tailor-made for a Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical nomination, and she still had her role in Let Them All Talk as a backup. To put it in perspective: it might have been less surprising to have Streep competing against herself in the same category (like she did back in 2009 for It’s Complicated and Julie & Julia) than it was to have her completely unrecognized this year. Nonetheless, here we are.

Surprise: Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian

This legal drama won’t be released until later this month, and certainly covers hard-hitting ground: it’s based on the true story about a Muslim man who spends 14 years locked in Guantanamo Bay despite no formal charges. (Reviews for the film so far are just okay, and it wasn’t on anyone’s awards season radar.) Apparently, the HFPA liked it enough to give surprise nominations to lead Tahar Rahim and supporting actress Jodie Foster.

Snub: Zendaya

Well, the Zendaya awards ceremony train has been temporarily halted. With the second season delayed, Euphoria wasn’t eligible in the TV categories this year and the HFPA didn’t recognize Malcolm & Marie, either.

Surprise: Jared Leto in The Little Things

Despite its star-studded cast, The Little Things seemed like it was going to slip between the cracks during awards season. Yet, Jared Leto’s performance—full of strong, interesting choices as the film’s central suspect—charmed the HFPA enough to garner him a surprise Supporting Actor nomination.

Snub: Pete Davidson and The King of Staten Island

Comedy kingpin Judd Apatow’s films have seen mixed results when it comes to getting attention from the Golden Globes, despite the fact that the ceremony has separate comedy categories. His latest film, the Pete Davidson-starring The King of Staten Island, was a certifiable VoD hit this summer but failed to grab the eyes of the HFPA. Davidson himself was very much in the discussion for an acting nom, but it appears they went with James Corden instead.

Snub: Michaela Coel and I May Destroy You

Historically, the Globes has no problem with embracing British TV auteurs. It went all in on Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag last year, and way back in 2003, lavished awards on Ricky Gervais’s original British version of The Office at a time when it was considered a cult import in the States. But the HFPA had no love this year for Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You despite stellar reviews and numerous appearances on “best shows of 2020” lists.

Surprise: Emily in Paris

Love to hate it or hate to love it, admit it: you didn’t watch Emily in Paris and think “This deserves actual, serious awards!” Yet, the Globes recognized both the series and lead actress Lily Collins. Chalk it up to the Netflix effect. The show was originally made for basic cable, and if it had landed there we could easily imagine it being ignored by all the awards bodies like the tonally similar (and, frankly, better) series Younger and The Bold Type.

Snub: Mrs. America

FX and Hulu’s feminist limited series scored 8 Emmy nominations last year but only came up with a single nomination for Cate Blanchett at the Globes. Not even Emmy winner Uzo Aduba garnered recognition.