After a year in entertainment dominated by the Barbenheimer phenomenon, it wasn’t hugely surprising to find that Barbie and Oppenheimer were similarly garlanded when it came to today’s Golden Globe nominations. The adventures of Mattel’s finest and most lucrative product-turned-icon are up for nine awards — in large part because it has no fewer than three nominations for Best Song, including my own favorite “I’m Just Ken” — whereas Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb epic is just trailing behind slightly with eight, including recognition for Best Picture, Best Director and, as expected, actors Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt.
The interesting thing about the nominations is that, unlike in previous years where some truly bizarre people have been recognized (and, on occasion, have even won), this is a sensible and sober list which acknowledges some of the best films and television shows of the year. The serious and somber likes of Maestro, Killers of the Flower Moon and Past Lives are all joshing for attention in the Best Drama category, but even the often fluffier Best Musical or Comedy selection is rather higher-caliber than it has been for several years; Poor Things, The Holdovers and American Fiction are all highly regarded and literate pieces of work that deserve to be given their due in some form or another. Only the appearance of perennial favorite Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for the dreadful No Hard Feelings, is a reminder that the Globes have always historically prized celebrity above all things.
Television is, perhaps, a stranger selection. I’m not convinced that the likes of The Crown or The Diplomat really merit nominations in the Best Drama section, although given that it’s all but an inevitability that Succession will be winning that particular category, their presence seems makeweight in the extreme. Indeed, Succession is dominating the awards to an extent that almost seems embarrassing, with a total of nine nominations in every category that it is eligible for, and a sure-to-be-fascinating battle between Jeremy Strong, Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin for Best Actor in a Drama; given the knowledge that there is little love lost between Cox and his on-screen eldest son, both of whom have been up for (and won) these awards before, it will be a particularly highly anticipated category.
The recently resolved SAG-AFTRA strike has meant, of course, that many films released in the latter half of this year didn’t have the long lead times for publicity that they would usually receive. This was perhaps reflected in the relative paucity of recognition for American films that have come out over the past few months. Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro performed strongly, with recognition for Cooper as both actor and director and for Carey Mulligan’s performance as his wife, but the likes of David Fincher’s The Killer and Paul King’s Wonka — the two most purely entertaining experiences I’ve had in the cinema this year — were all but ignored, with only a token Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy nod for Timothée Chalamet’s ebullient performance in Wonka.
There are other regrets that I have too about the omissions in the TV category — perhaps The Great’s third season was its weakest, but again the relative lack of appreciation for it, save a nomination for Elle Fanning, seems mean-spirited compared to the far worse shows that have been garlanded with greater praise — but by and large, this is the most serious-minded and impressive selection of nominations that this often cursed awards ceremony has come up with in recent memory. We will ignore the “Cinematic and Box Office achievement” category, a sop to high-grossing films, but otherwise this is an unusually interesting and varied pick that reminds us that the industry is going through a golden period of sorts, amid considerable ructions in the wider world.