The Oscars might be the premier event of Hollywood awards season, but the Golden Globes have the exciting distinction of being the most unpredictable. With a secretive voting body of some 90-odd members — a mere fraction of the more than 7,000 who vote on the Academy Awards — the Globes are the event most ripe for upset, as it takes only a handful of voters to swing the outcome. In fact, the controversy has already begun, with Game of Thrones, Little Women, and Robert De Niro among the biggest nomination snubs. But the surprises of the Globes aren't limited to the night's winners, either; with champagne a'flowing, you never know what someone might step on stage and say.
Ricky Gervais will host the show for a fifth time on Sunday, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and there are more than a few juicy storylines to watch for during the ceremony.
Will there be another "Natalie Portman moment"?
At the 2018 Golden Globes, Natalie Portman presented the award for Best Director with a zinger: "And here are the all-male nominees." Unfortunately, the state of the Golden Globes doesn't look much better in 2020; all the films nominated in the major categories were directed by men, and the best director category is likewise uniformly male once more.
Golden Globe attendees, though, tend to be a pretty vocal bunch — in 2018, women attendees practically staged a revolt. It wouldn't be surprising to see women speak out against their exclusion on Sunday, either. The question will be, who and how many will do it?
Will climate change be the night's cause célèbre?
In what The Hollywood Reporter says is likely a first for an awards show, the Golden Globes are going all-vegan on Sunday. But the meal won't be the only part of the ceremony that is sustainable; the organizers are also reusing their red carpet and reducing waste by using glass, rather than plastic, water bottles. "The climate crisis is surrounding us and we were thinking about the new year and the new decade," the Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Lorenzo Soria told THR. "So we started talking between us about what we can do to send a signal."
Many Hollywood celebrities are similarly climate-minded, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and regrammed Greta Thunberg's U.N. speech. Could he, or others, use the opportunity of the awards to speak out about climate change the way the 2018 ceremony addressed the industry's sexual harassment epidemic with the Time's Up movement?
Can Joker pull off a sweep?
Even up against The Irishman in Best Motion Picture, Drama, I could see Joker potentially winning it all in an upset that would divide people at least as much as Bohemian Rhapsody's win did last year. With Joaquin Phoenix, who played the title character, a likely lock for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, the question to ask might rather be how many awards Joker picks up over the course of the evening. The movie also has a strong shot at Best Original Score (Hildur Gudnadottir) and a chance, albeit slimmer, at Best Director.
Will Bong Joon Ho inspire a rule change?
Due to a silly bit of fine print, movies are required to have a minimum of 50 percent of their dialogue in English to qualify for either of the Best Picture awards at the Golden Globes. That means not only were The Farewell and Pain & Glory ineligible for top honors, despite earning nominations elsewhere, but so too was South Korean director Bong Joon Ho's Parasite, one of the best films of the year.
While Bong is almost certainly a lock for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language, he stands a pretty solid chance at picking up additional awards for Best Director and potentially Screenplay. Were Bong to win even just two of the three nominations he's up for, it'd put the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in an interesting bind. In 2019, the Spanish-language film Roma likewise couldn't qualify for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but it did win Foreign Film as well as Director. If two foreign-language films go back-to-back years winning Best Director and Best Foreign Language film, you start to wonder if they'd also have won the whole shebang, had they been given the chance. Bong certainly deserves the Director award this year; would winning it incite the HFPA to change their rules?
What will the night's winners signal for the new streaming era?
The reign of the streamers is nothing especially new, particularly at the Golden Globes, which tends to be a more hospitable environment for untraditional distributors than other venues (this year, Netflix earned its first Golden Globes Best Picture nominations with not one but four movies: The Irishman, Marriage Story, The Two Popes, and Dolemite Is My Name). That being said, Sunday night could indicate a shift is afoot in streaming itself. While Succession might be the most critically-acclaimed of the television dramas up for an award, many prognosticators are warning that Apple TV+'s The Morning Show is "prime Golden Globe material."
That might come as a surprise because when Apple TV+ launched this fall, its offerings seemed lackluster. Time called the streamer's content "imitations" of what people are "already watching," with The Morning Show dismissed as "a middling Shonda Rhimes ripoff." But the future of streaming is trending toward boutique services that don't aim to appeal to everyone. Were Apple TV+ to rack up wins with the Golden Globes-geared Morning Show, especially over perennial heavyweight HBO and Succession, it won't just announce the presence of a new streamer in town — it'll indicate that the future of streaming has already begun.
Will the ceremony's buzziest upset be in a TV category?
Nothing, though, is certain about the Golden Globes. Take Fleabag, which dominated at the Emmys and is already being floated as a likely winner across many of the television comedy categories come Sunday night. While general Golden Globes wisdom holds that the voting body won't re-reward a show — meaning The Kominsky Method and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel would be counted out — that's only true until it isn't. And while Fleabag was my favorite show of the year, a lot of other people don't consider it their cup of tea.
Or take Best Limited Series or TV Movie. Actor Jharrel Jerome of When They See Us won at the Emmys but was snubbed by the Globes, making it difficult to arrive at an informed prediction. Many are now looking to Sam Rockwell, who plays Bob Fosse in Fosse/Verdon, although I wouldn't underestimate Chernobyl, which earned the highest IMDb television score ever this year, and its lead, Jared Harris.
And will anybody beat Meryl Streep, who earned her 34th Golden Globes nomination for her guest role on Big Little Lies? Most prognosticators don't think so, but don't count out Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown), Patricia Arquette (The Act), Emily Watson (Chernobyl), or Toni Collette (Unbelievable) just yet. With a double-digit voting body, the Golden Globes are always, truly anybody's game.