The Golden Globes are the traditional kick-off to awards season, heralding the start of a whirlwind blur of parties, luncheons, red carpets and acceptance speeches that culminates in the Academy Awards a little over a month later. This year, only the first part is true. The Golden Globes, delayed from its traditional January calendar date until February 28, is still the first ceremony of the traditional Hollywood awards circuit, celebrating nominees in both movies and TV. But the glamorous gatherings are cancelled. Familiar favorites Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be hosting for the fourth time, but from different coasts, in a simultaneous broadcast. And any drunken antics by celebrities will be taking place in their own homes, rather than the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
But change isn’t necessarily all bad. For the first time, the vast majority of movies nominated this year are already available to stream, which means that you can really and truly follow along with the ups and downs of the evening. With over 24 movies nominated in various categories, that’s a lot to cram into a weekend. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 90ish-person body that nominates and selects the winners of the Golden Globes, has glaring blind spots, and doesn’t always have the greatest track record of highlighting the best work of the year. Some of their picks — like The Prom, Hillbilly Elegy or Sia’s problematic directorial debut Music — are definitely on the skip list. (Replace any of these with Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which was unforgivably overlooked this year.)
As for the rest, that all depends on your mood. For all its shortcomings and hurdles, this has been a great year for film, as full of surprises and hidden delights as works that challenge our perceptions and world views. For the first time, three women — Regina King, Emerald Fennell and Chloe Zhao — are nominated in the Best Director category, for films cover a wide spectrum of topics and genres. At least seven Black icons — Malcolm X, Mohammed Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, Ma Rainey, Fred Hampton, and Billie Holiday — are represented through varied but unforgettable performances. Add to that one very horny adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, a tender film about a man coping with sudden hearing loss, a foray into Old Hollywood and the triumphant return of Borat, and you can’t help but be (cautiously) optimistic about what’s to come.
Whether you’re catching up on must-sees before the awards show, or just filling in some of the neverending time at home, there’s a movie on this list for you. You can bet we’ll be talking about them for the rest of awards season — whatever it looks like.