Could the ‘muted’ Golden Globes spell trouble for awards season?

West Side Story, Succession and Netflix drama The Power of the Dog were the big winners at Sunday night’s “muted” Golden Globe awards ceremony. 

The traditionally glitzy event was “dramatically pared down”, said the BBC, without any celebrities in attendance or official press access. It took place at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles with just select members and grant recipients present. 

The ceremony wasn’t broadcast on TV and the results were announced via social media. The lack of a live-stream “meant no emotional or memorable acceptance speeches could be made”.

‘Decent list of winners’

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake won best picture in the musical or comedy section, and also brought wins for Ariana DeBose as best supporting actress and newcomer Rachel Zegler as best actress in musical/comedy.

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog received best picture in the drama section, with best director and best supporting actor for Australian star Kodi Smit-McPhee. HBO’s hit drama Succession took home three prizes, including best TV drama. 

There was “no backslapping, no boozy dinner, no outrageous presenter gags from Ricky Gervais, but a decent, if mainstream, list of winners”, said film critic Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian

Diversity and corruption

In previous years, the Golden Globes have been watched by millions around the world. As they precede the Oscars in the annual awards season calendar, the ceremony is often seen as a useful predictor for Academy Award success.

But in May last year, US broadcaster NBC ruled out screening this year’s ceremony. Meanwhile, stars including Scarlett Johansson and Tom Cruise distanced themselves from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organisation behind the awards. 

This followed an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed that the HFPA had no black members and alleged that members had accepted freebies or perks which may have influenced how they voted. 

According to the LA Times, more than 30 HFPA members had flown to France in 2019 to visit the Emily in Paris set, where the “Paramount Network treated the group to a two-night stay” at a five-star hotel. Representatives for Paramount Network and Netflix declined to comment on the claim.

Despite the row, the 2021 Golden Globes ceremony went ahead as scheduled on 28 February.

But the televised awards received “barely one-third the size of 2020’s viewership” and was “by far the least-watched ceremony in modern Globes history”, said New York Magazine’s Vulture site.

‘On a journey of change’

After the LA Times exposé, the HFPA announced that it would “overhaul its practices and diversify its membership”, said the BBC.

Over the past year, repair work by the organisation behind the Globes has included “overhauling previously restrictive bylaws, implementing changes with regards to code of conduct and ethical practices, and bringing in a diverse set of 21 new members”, reported The Guardian

“Last year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was challenged to change – and we did,” said HFPA president Helen Hoehne. “We are on a journey of change and we’re not going to rest. We are going to be outspoken about what we’re learning and challenge others to join us.”

Declining audiences

Neither the Golden Globes nor the annual US-Canadian Critics’ Choice Movie Awards have “any relevance in this year’s awards season leading up to the Oscars”, said the LA Times

However, these various awards shows do have something in common: a declining audience.

The 2020 Oscars received around six million fewer viewers than it did in 2019 and the 2021 ceremony similarly suffered a “catastrophic drop in television viewers”, plummeting to below ten million, said The Times

Despite 2021 being a record-breaking year for diversity, the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony was described by USA Today as being “a train wreck at the train station, an excruciatingly long, boring telecast that lacked the verve of so many movies we love”. 

This week, it was announced that the forthcoming Oscars ceremony – due to take place on 27 March – will have a host for the first time since 2018.

“Producers will be hoping for a significant jump in viewership following last year’s disastrous numbers,” said The Times. Spider-Man star Tom Holland is believed to be in the running.


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