The 10 Biggest Surprises and Snubs from the Golden Globe Nominations

After a major organizational shake-up, the Globes showed this year would be business as usual.

the color purple
(Image credit: Studio Ghibli/Warner Bros. Pictures/FX on Hulu)

The Golden Globes announced its nominations for the 81st annual ceremony on Monday morning, as the longstanding awards show attempts to return to form following years of controversy. (For anyone needing a recap: In 2021, the LA Times published a series of investigations uncovering ethical lapses and a total lack of Black members within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Earlier this year, the awards' former voting body was dissolved, and the awards were then acquired by Dick Clark Prods.)

As the first major televised awards show of the season, some of the Globes' nods were highly expected: Barbie led film nominations with nine total, followed by Oppenheimer with eight. On the TV side, Succession was the most-awarded with nine noms total, followed by The Bear and Only Murders in the Building with five each. As for the calls for the Globes to be more inclusive, 72 of the 90 performance nomination slots still went to non-Hispanic white people, per The Hollywood Reporter, but thankfully some standout performances (including Lily Gladstone for Killers of the Flower Moon and Ayo Edebiri for The Bear) received their deserved recognition.

Still, the Globes nominations included plenty of surprises, snubs, and genuine head-scratchers for awards watchers to discuss in the lead up to the ceremony, which will air on Sunday, Jan. 7 on CBS and Paramount+. Read on for our biggest takeaways from the nominations, arranged by the responses "Yay," "Wow," and "What the heck?"

YAY: 'Past Lives' continues its awards season domination.

Celine Song's gorgeous, semi-autobiographical debut film has been my longstanding favorite of the year, and it's been great to see the voting bodies of several major awards and critics associations agree. The low-key, pensive drama about two childhood friends and the layers of fate that tie them together beautifully unfolds a very ordinary, human story that tends to be overtaken by lavish biopics and blockbusters once it comes to awards season. But the film's Globes nods for Celine Song (Best Director and Best Screenplay), Greta Lee (Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama), and the piece as a whole (Best Motion Picture for both the Drama and Non-English Language categories) catapult the film to its rightful place as a Best Picture lock. After this, if Song doesn't walk away from Oscar noms morning with a Best Director mention, something's deeply wrong. - QL

WTH: No 'The Color Purple' (or musicals in general) for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical

Seeing that the film's literally in the middle of a packed press campaign and receiving stellar early reviews, The Color Purple's snub for Best Motion Picture hits even harder. Thirty-seven years ago, Steven Spielberg's 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker's novel walked away from the Oscars with zero wins (despite 11 nominations), and countless fans of the book (including most of the Black movie-going public) see Blitz Bazawule's film based on the Broadway musical adaptation as a chance for the cultural touchstone to receive its moment in the sun. And the new film also deserves every bit of glory, from Bazawule's astute, marvelous treatment in bringing both emotional moments and intricate musical numbers to film, to more excellent performances than there are awards slots to honor. (Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks got their rightful nods, but where's Colman Domingo? Corey Hawkins? Taraji P. Henson???) Of all the snubs, this is the one that will be most discussed in the weeks before Globes night.

And beyond The Color Purple, it's a big surprise that there wasn't room in the Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical category for any musicals at all. Usually the Globes will find at least one musical per year to throw into that category (remember Music?), but despite Purple and Wonka receiving nods for acting, neither of the films made their way to the major spot. (Plus Halle Bailey and The Little Mermaid were snubbed entirely.) As the Globes head into a new era, will its mandate to honor musicals be left in the past? - QL

still from the color purple


WOW: May/December's a comedy?

Awards shows that split categories into comedy and drama tend to play a bit fast and loose with their decisions on where films or shows fall in terms of tone. (Looking at you, Emmy-winning comedy The Bear.) This year's head-scratcher for the Globes is May/December—the movie about a sexual predator and her child victim finally reckoning with their situation after decades of marriage when a B-list TV actor shows up on their doorstep—being placed in the Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category. Even while the film has been marketed as a dark comedy, there's no question that it's a deeply unsettling watch that may fall better into the subgenre of melodrama. (Director Todd Haynes has already had to confirm that "camp" was nowhere on his mind when making the film.) While the question of why May/December was considered as a comedy has an easy answer—that's how Netflix submitted it—the discourse could be pointed in a constructive direction, back to audiences questioning why the film's real-life inspiration of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau was ever treated lightly. - QL

YAY: 'The Boy and the Heron' deserves!

I’m delighted that The Boy and the Heron was nominated for Best Animated Motion Picture. Marketed as legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s final film (though Miyazaki also announced his retirement in 2013), this feature blends melancholy with beauty in the moving, mystical way that only Studio Ghibli can. It also touches on the impact that World War II had on Japan, featuring buildings razed to the ground in a manner overt enough to impact the viewer but subtle enough to avoid the emotional trauma of pieces like Graveyard of the Fireflies. For Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron is a meditation on both his own childhood and on the childhood of his young son; it’s a triumph that deserves recognition.

The film’s score is also up for a Globe this season. Composer Joe Hisaishi has scored every Miyazaki film since 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but has been snubbed by both the Oscars and the Globes every year. Here’s hoping that 2024 marks an era in which legendary composers from all over the world will be recognized for their art. - GU

the boy and the heron

(Image credit: Gkids / Studio Ghibli)

WOW: 'Napoleon' completely snubbed

I have no doubt in my mind that Ridley Scott is lying awake at night with rage because Napoleon failed to be nominated for Best Picture or Best Director. The nearly three hour epic, which had a budget of $130 million to $200 million, had Scott stubbornly (and vocally) defying historians in favor of a sweeping, romantic deep-dive into Napoleon’s relationship with his first wife, Josephine, as well as several of his most famous military campaigns. Its grandiose sets and overall sense of melodrama resulted in an indulgent, if not somewhat exhausting, film that felt like fodder for award nominations, making it all the more interesting (and to some, entertaining) that it was snubbed. Even its main actors, Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, didn’t secure nominations for their roles. - GU

WOW: Julia Roberts in 'Leave the World Behind' deserves recognition

Leave The World Behind is a meandering, underwhelming film that’s about an hour longer than it needs to be. Director Sam Esmail supposedly wanted to create a different sort of end-of-the-world drama that hinged on tension rather than apocalyptic action à la The Day After Tomorrow. However, neither the tension nor the relationships between the characters were fully fleshed out in the film, and much of it read as a frustratingly vague (xenophobic, red leaflets saying “Death to America” in Arabic? Come on.) exercise in fear-mongering. I’m therefore not surprised that the film and its script were overlooked, but there’s one nomination I would have been excited to see: Julia Roberts for her role as Amanda. Roberts proved the old adage that “there are no small roles, only small actors” in her performance, imbuing her fundamentally unlikable character with nuance that makes her far easier to sympathize with than one would initially think. She also pulled off an incredible character arc for Amanda, transforming her from an uptight racist to a quick-thinking, resilient mother figure. It’s harder to make a bad script look good than it is to make an already-good script shine, and for that, Roberts deserved a pat on the back. - GU

WTH: 'Beef's sexual assault controversy going under the radar in favor of recognition

The fact that Beef received not one but three nominations is sorely disappointing. The initial fan-favorite buzz around the impressive series starring Ali Wong (who received a nom for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series) and Steven Yeun (who was nominated for Best Actor) was dampened by the controversy around supporting star David Choe. While appearing on a podcast in 2014, Choe bragged about sexually assaulting a masseuse. Following Beef’s release, the clips resurfaced and Choe claimed that he originally fabricated the story. Wong and Yeun then came to his defense, releasing a joint statement that read, in part, “We’ve seen him put in the work…to better himself and learn from his mistakes.” The David Choe Foundation then reportedly copyright-claimed the 2014 clip, removing it from Twitter as users attempted to share and criticize the incident. Wong and Yeun have been deservedly criticized for not taking accountability in their neutral statement, especially since they were friends with Choe prior to Beef’s filming. For this, the cast of Beef should be penalized rather than celebrated this season. - GU

still from beef netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

YAY: Meryl Streep being Meryl Streep

With her Supporting Female Actor nomination for Only Murders in the Building, Meryl Streep has beaten the record for most Golden Globe nominations received by an actor, a record previously owned by... you guessed it, Meryl Streep. In addition to the actress being a national treasure, the nod is highly deserved for playing Loretta on the third season of the acclaimed comedy, which allowed her to show off her musical theater chops and have what appeared to be a blast working alongside industry icons Martin Short and Steve Martin. Some other impressive stats about Streep and the Globes: She's also the actor with the most all-time wins at the Globes, having won nine over the course of her career. Of her 33 noms, only four are for TV, and the most recent TV nod was for Big Little Lies season 2. Hopefully the actress has many more fun roles in her future. - QL

WTH: Dominique Fishback's snub for 'Swarm'

Swarm was a controversial series for many reasons, but one thing that viewers and critics agreed on was the mesmerizing performance by Dominique Fishback, who played Dre, a dangerously unstable fan of a fictional superstar based on Beyoncé. Fishback steered the anthology-like series, which saw Dre interact with a new set of characters on each episode of her cross-state murder spree. She offered a nuanced take on the pathological killer, and the Emmys even saw fit to award her with an Outstanding Lead Actress nomination in the Limited Series category. In addition to Fishback deserving the recognition, her snub bundled with a couple more notable choices—no Viola Davis for Air, no Abbott Elementary acting nods besides creator Quinta Brunson, and The Color Purple (see above)—show that the HFPA still have a ways to go towards honoring POC stories and storytellers. - QL

swarm prime video

(Image credit: Courtesy of Prime Video)

WTH: Once again, no love for 'Reservation Dogs'

Reservation Dogs isn't the first critically-acclaimed shows to go under-awarded for every year of its run, but it's notable (and infuriating) that Sterlin Harjo's genre-bending, Indigenous-led series only received one Globes nod in its entire tenure. The show was completely shut out of this year's noms for its excellent final season, which wrapped up the stories of the Rez Dogs in a poignant exploration of generational trauma and the U.S.' history of subjugating Indigenous communities. Though the Globes did give Lily Gladstone a much-deserved (though near-guaranteed) nom for Killers of the Flower Moon, it's still very telling that the Globes couldn't find the space to acknowledge a series that broke barriers for Indigenous representation both onscreen and behind the camera. - QL

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.