Going for the gold

What to watch for at the 2021 Golden Globes

Annie Symons, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Sydney Lorton

It’s time to break out the ball gowns, black ties, and bottles of sparkling cider—awards season is back.

The 2021 Golden Globes, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will require adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Hollywood Foreign Press (the organization that distributes the awards) remains determined to honor the filmmakers and television stars of the past year.

Films such as “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” earned many nods for their accomplishments, but certain Seattle Pacific University students prefer to reserve their excitement for the other nominees.

“Hamilton” debuted on Disney+ in July of 2020 as a filmed performance of the Tony award-winning musical, and it features the original Broadway cast. The show recounts the events of the American Revolution, blending rap, R&B, and hip-hop into a fast-paced phenomenon in the realm of musical theater.

Devon Yamane, a senior psychology major, believes that “Hamilton” deserves to win Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, one of the categories in which it received a nomination.

“[The film] is very smart, very well thought-out, and it also inspires me in thinking about my life and my professional aspirations,” Yamane said.

She spoke of her admiration for the show’s creator and leading actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who received a nomination in the Best Actor – Comedy or Musical category.

“The thing that has impressed me about Miranda’s work is him taking a firm stance on tackling one issue at a time,” Yamane said. “You can’t solve all of the issues of your particular industry…without stepping back a little bit.”

“Hamilton” received praise from critics and fans upon its Broadway debut due to its prioritization of racial representation. BIPOC actors play a majority of the show’s characters—almost all of whom were historically white. Yamane admires this creative choice and hopes for more films to follow Miranda’s example.

“Representation matters,” Yamane said. “Ethnic minorities, racial minorities, women, issues of class…it matters to me and it matters to everyone involved in the filmmaking industry.”

While the Hollywood Foreign Press awarded Golden Globe nominations to films and television shows that exemplify progress and positive change in the entertainment industry, one film received two nominations amid controversy.

Senior film studies major Maddy Knapp vocalized her confusion and frustration about “Music,” a film that features an offensive portrayal of an austitic young woman, securing two nominations.

Maddie Ziegler, an actress and dancer, plays the lead role in the film. Knapp condemned Sia—the film’s director, producer, and screenwriter—and her decision to cast a non-autistic woman as an autistic character. She also found Ziegler’s performance exaggerated, overdramatic, and dehumanizing.

“Not casting an autistic person to play an autistic character is beyond wild,” Knapp said. “There are quite a few very good autistic actors in Hollywood. It’s very much a character of autistic people … and it just feels so offensive. It feels like you’re making fun of these people because it’s so over the top,” Knapp said.

Another Golden Globe-nominated film that received criticism for a questionable casting decision is Netflix’s “The Prom.” James Corden, a straight man, plays a gay character in a stereotypical, offensive way, yet he received a Best Actor nomination. Knapp disapproved of this casting decision and nomination as well.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” Knapp said. “I understand that James Corden is a big name in the industry, and he’s been in so many things, and he’s had experience acting in musicals…but there are LGBTQ+ actors galore. I think that they could have looked a little harder for someone.”

Knapp discussed how the politics of filmmaking and awards shows, though unfair, often result in this type of unfortunate casting and unjust nominations.

“I understand that part of the reason why people cast big names, whether or not they fit in that part, is because people know them. And most of the casual movie watchers won’t be offended by the fact that [Corden’s] playing a gay man,” Knapp explained.

Whether they celebrate inclusivity or provoke outrage due to disrespectful material, the films and television shows nominated at the 2021 Golden Globes sum up the year 2020 in an appropriate way—they simultaneously promote progress and regression.

“For 2020, I think that for the most part…they did the best job that they could. There were some disappointing things, just for the times that we’re living in,” Knapp said. “In 2020, we shouldn’t be making fun of people with disabilities, or casting straight people as people who are gay, but I think there are some promising nominations.”

The 78th annual Golden Globes awards ceremony premieres on Feb. 28 at 5pm PST on NBC.