Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have voted, and the Golden Globe nominations are officially here to honor the best of the best in this year’s movies and television series. While many of you are ready to scan the nominee list to see if your favorites could win big on January 6, it’s also worth taking a step back to see what this year’s nominees say about the kind of stories that are being honored. Look at this year’s Best Motion Picture, Drama category, and you’ll see that we’re in unprecedented territory. Four out of the five movies in this category — arguably the most important category — tell stories of people of color.
If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of one of James Baldwin’s novels about a Black family in 1970’s Harlem (and one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, just saying). Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek), an artist of Parsi descent who migrated to England from Zanzibar, is at the center of Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about the band Queen. Black Panther was a pop culture phenomenon dripping in the sauce of the Black diaspora. And Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman not only documented the fall of a local Colorado KKK chapter at the hands of a Black cop, but took the time to critique current white nationalist movements as well. These are the movies hoping to overthrow Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born.
Other notable nominations include Best Comedy or Musical Motion Picture, where Crazy Rich Asians got the props it absolutely deserves. Additionally, Green Book — where Mahershala Ali plays a bad and bougie classical pianist touring the deep South during segregation — was also nominated. That Hollywood is not only making room for people of color’s stories, but honoring them as the most meaningful and memorable films is a drastic shift in a movie sector that is noted for favoring content with white people at the center and the helm. We’ve spent the past four years putting awarding institutions in the hot seat for this practice, starting with April Reign’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2014 and turning up the heat when #MeToo and Time's Up helped amplify women of color, specifically. Nominee lists like this seem to suggest that they are listening.
As for individual people of color, there were definitely some snubs. I definitely feel some type of way that Ali somehow ended up in the Supporting Actor category for Green Book when Viggo Mortensen got the lead actor nomination. I already mentioned the beauty of Best Film nominee Beale Street. Director Barry Jenkins made it happen, and he didn't receive a nomination. Ryan Coogler made history when he was tapped to make Black Panther and did a damn good job. And Letitia Wright made a generation of Black girls want to get into STEM fields as Princess Shuri. I would have loved to see her celebrated.
But the fact that overall, the movie categories were more diverse than television — the medium often lauded for creating more lanes for people of color to flourish in — is still remarkable and proof that the Golden Globes are indeed getting somewhere. To sweeten the deal, they’ve also tapped their first-ever Asian host for the show, Sandra Oh. Let's keep this same energy next year, and the year after that...and beyond.