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34 Golden Globes Nominations That Surprised Us

Angelina Jolie got totally shut out, but hooray for Jane the Virgin and Transparent!

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1. Nothing for Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken

Universal Pictures

The Golden Globes — which exist in large part so the Hollywood Foreign Press Association can throw a big party for Hollywood, and which have literally zero overlap with the voting bodies for the Oscars or the Emmys — have always been addicted to star power and glamour. As such, they have fallen over themselves to recognize Angelina Jolie. She won her first Globe way back in 1998 for the TV movie George Wallace, and she was nominated as recently as 2010 for The Tourist (!!!), and in 2011 for her feature directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey (for Best Foreign Language Film).

So one would certainly expect that Unbroken, Jolie’s first major English-language film as a director — a movie that has long been near the top of everyone’s list as a possible awards season contender — would have earned at least a few nominations from the Golden Globes. Instead: Nothing. Not for the film. Not for lead star Jack O’Connell. Not for Jolie. Zip. As if to underline the snub, Jolie was also ignored for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Maleficent. Did she forget to send the HFPA a Christmas card or something? —Adam B. Vary

2. Yes, Gina Rodriguez, and 3. Yes, a nomination for Jane the Virgin

The CW

These nominations are so gratifying for Jane the Virgin’s viewers, who are few. The hourlong CW show, in its freshman year, is astonishingly good. Every little piece of it works, and works together — Jennie Snyder Urman, its showrunner, appears to have a masterplot. The most important part, of course, is Gina Rodriguez as Jane: Without such a smart, winning lead, the show might still work — that’s how good all of it is — but it would not be what it is. We don’t have to contemplate that, though, because Rodriguez is the show’s star, and it’s a career-maker for her. I am thrilled and surprised that she and the show were recognized. But now what I want is for Rodriguez to win so people know this show exists. She must win! —Kate Aurthur

4. No Laura Dern for Wild

Fox Searchlight

Reese Witherspoon is rightly winning enormous praise for her (Golden Globe nominated!) performance in Wild as author Cheryl Strayed, whose life spiraled out of control after her mother died of cancer. Laura Dern plays Strayed’s mother in the film, and her performance is so brimming with life than you understand completely why Strayed fell to pieces after she died. Witherspoon’s work wouldn’t feel nearly as rich if Dern’s work weren’t so great — it is the very definition of a “supporting” performance. One that has gone unacknowledged by the Golden Globes. It is a genuine shame! —A.B.V.

5. Nothing for Top Five, or 6. Neighbors, or 7. 22 Jump Street

Paramount

It’s become something of a joke that an organization that has dedicated an entire suite of categories to recognizing comedies has so often failed to recognize actual comedies that make people laugh out loud multiple times. So it isn’t even much of a surprise that the year’s top live-action comedies — 22 Jump Street and Neighbors — earned a total of zero nominations.

But Chris Rock’s Top Five is not “just” a big Hollywood comedy — it’s a thoughtful, artful meditation on fame and success that also happens to make people laugh out loud many, many times. Rock has been everywhere promoting it. And yet the Globes saw fit to snub it completely. Yet another shame! —A.B.V.

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8. No Mad Men nomination for Best Television Series — Drama, and 9. No nomination for Jon Hamm either

AMC

This nonsense has been going on for a while. I don’t even know what to say about it anymore. I will turn to the format of open letter! Dear HFPA: Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men is, without argument, one of the best shows in the history of television. Other dramas weaken as they age; Mad Men has gotten better, deeper, more rich, and more moving. The character of Don Draper, enacted by Jon Hamm, has practically turned into a fully rendered human being before our eyes. Are you crazy (no question mark). Do you not like wonderful television (no question mark). I give up (exclamation point). —K.A.

10. Much deserved love for Transparent, and 11. Jeffrey Tambor!

Amazon Prime

To say the nominations for Transparent are a surprise is not a knock on Jill Soloway’s show, all 10 episodes of which premiered on Amazon Instant Video in September. The comedy/drama hybrid about an upper-middle-class Jewish family in Los Angeles in which its patriarch, Jeffrey Tambor as Mort, has begun to transition into a woman, is not only superb, but it’s important. There’s never been a show like Transparent before — because of how it directly address trans issues, yes, but also because its tone is wholly original. There have been plenty of great TV shows in recent years that have felt like a cinematic experience. Acting on television has become an art (it wasn’t always), and the way TV looks can resemble richly textured films. But each of Transparent’s half-hour episodes somehow feels like the best independent movie you have seen in years, and it’s a true achievement. This is all to say that these nominations are so well-deserved. But still, original shows on Amazon are a new thing (even newer than the old new thing, Netflix), and it has been a question whether it could break through entrenched awards cabal behavior. What a lovely surprise. Next time, let’s get more of the cast in the acting categories, OK? —K.A.

12. No Hilary Swank nomination for The Homesman, 13. No Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars

Oscars pundits have rightly been shaking their fists at what a weak year it has been for lead actresses in film. Frankly, there’s just not a lot to choose from during this awards season — there have been a number of serious dramas with great performances by male leads, but almost none starring women. Further proof that the world is terrible, when you think about it! But anyway: The sure bets as things roll along are Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Reese Witherspoon for Wild, Amy Adams for Big Eyes, and Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything. They are practically the only bets. So the question is, who will get that fifth spot? Rosamund Pike of Gone Girl increasingly seems like a frontrunner for her odd, arrhythmic performance as Amy. (I liked her quite a bit in it, but I did feel like everyone else was in a David Fincher movie, while she was in a Brian De Palma movie.)

No one wants there to be only five actresses to fill five slots. So pundits have hoped that either Hilary Swank or Shailene Woodley (or in a more far-fetched scenario, Marion Cotillard for Two Days One Night) might sneak in. In Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman, Swank turned in one of her breathtaking performances as Mary Bee Cuddy, a principled, brave frontierswoman; she was just wonderful, and the movie feels like a rare thing. (You should see it! I feel sure you haven’t.) In The Fault in Our Stars — a very conventional Hollywood movie that nonetheless managed to seem like a surprise hit because people still discount young people and female audiences, despite all evidence to the contrary — Woodley exceeded expectations as Hazel, a teenaged girl with cancer who falls in love for the first time and learns how to live. It’s a terrific part, and Woodley did so much with it. I wish one of them were in the Drama category. I will say that it’s fun to see Jennifer Aniston (for Cake) included (she got a SAG nomination, too). —K.A.

14. No Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart

HBO

The Hollywood Foreign Press smushes all of television — meaning, comedies, dramas, miniseries, and movies! — into one category for supporting actress and actor. That’s a lot of people, guys! So it’s not unusual to have these categories have some real weirdness going on. This year, that weirdness is not nominating Julia Roberts for her performance in HBO’s The Normal Heart. Yes, she lost the Emmy in August (to Kathy Bates for American Horror Story: Coven), but not only was Roberts good, but she is Julia Roberts! The HFPA usually loves movie stars. Without her, this group is a bit of a mess, and has three women who won Emmys for their roles in it (Bates, Allison Janney for Mom, and Uzo Aduba from Orange Is the New Black). Plus, Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey for her first Globes nomination (Anna was raped in the most recent season of Downton).

Those are fine. The real outlier here is the inclusion of Michelle Monaghan from True Detective. In the HBO show that riveted its viewers, and blew the audience away with performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (nominated, of course), the writing Monaghan was given opposite Harrelson was flat and weak (and widely criticized). It wasn’t her fault, it was the creator Nic Pizzolatto’s fault. We will see next season whether he can write female characters — fingers crossed! —K.A.

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15. Two Best Actress nominations for Julianne Moore!

As Kate noted above, Julianne Moore has been a Best Actress favorite for her exquisite work as a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice ever since the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. And, sure enough, the Globes followed suit with a nomination for Moore for Best Actress in a Drama.

They also, however, nominated Moore for Best Actress in a Comedy for her performance as a drugged-out actress in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, a bizarre, surrealistic examination of fame and Los Angeles that almost no one has talked about after Moore won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The movie isn’t not a comedy, exactly, but, I mean, whatever. Moore’s great, and it’s probably “her year,” so why not? Have another cocktail, HFPA! You’ve earned it! —A.B.V.

16. Nothing for Bill Hader and 17. Kristen Wiig in The Skeleton Twins!

Roadside Attractions

The Skeleton Twins — so great, with such fabulous work from Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged twin siblings — appears to be trapped in a particularly maddening awards season purgatory. The movie is funny, occasionally screamingly so. But it is far more of a character-driven drama than a comedy; there are multiple suicide attempts, and both Hader and Wiig cry many times. Walking that line makes for a sublime moviegoing experience, but for whatever reason, it has also shut out this movie from nominations for the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and even the Independent Spirit Awards. It is a massive shame, and perfect example of the total fallibility of awards season, and of humanity itself. —A.B.V.

18. So many nominations for Selma!

Paramount Pictures

On Wednesday, the Screen Actors Guild announced their nominations, and Selma — director Ava DuVernay’s film about Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965 — was shut out. It was weird and kind of stunning, and had many observers bracing themselves for a similar snub at the Globes. Fortunately, the opposite was true: Selma earned four nominations, including Best Drama, David Oyelowo for Best Actor, and DuVernay for Best Director — the first black woman to be nominated for this award. —A.B.V.

19. No Michael Sheen and 20. No Lizzy Caplan for Masters of Sex, and 21. No nomination for the show either

Showtime

Sheen was nominated last year, and the show was too. (Caplan was not.) The two actors — along with its excellent supporting cast, and guest stars — really make the show. But I guess if you don’t think the show is worthy of nomination, then why nominate the actors? Obviously, I’m grasping for logic where there is none. I will stop now. And will just say that Masters of Sex is one of the best dramas currently on television, only improving in its second season, which was what was under consideration here. The HFPA seemingly went with The Affair and its actors instead — more on that later. (Cue ominous music!) —K.A.

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22. Nothing for The Big Bang Theory, 23. Modern Family, and 24. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In order to make room for some of the pleasing new additions to the Best Comedy in TV category (which is celebrated elsewhere on this list!), some previously nominated shows had to be thrown aside. Perpetual Emmy-winners Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory were both skunked out of nominations this year in their sixth and eighth seasons, respectively. That is less of a surprise, though, than the complete lack of nods for Fox’s sophomore comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which last year won two Globes, for Best Actor (for Andy Samberg) and Best Comedy. This year, nothing! Globes! You’re being a little weird! —A.B.V.

25. No Homeland nomination

Showtime

Isn’t it ironic? I haven’t thought this show was good since the penultimate episode of Season 1! It burned its viewers so hard during its disintegration over Seasons 2 and 3 — but in its fourth, what a resurrection. (No surprise to those who argued that all that needed to happen for this show to find new life was for Brody to die.) Now that Homeland is totally divorced from the romantic quicksand that dragged it down, and has turned into a pure thriller, it’s been so fun. I’m not even sure it’s right to argue that it should be an awards-y drama anymore — it’s evolved into something else, really. But I am positive that stacked up against its Showtime sister The Affair, it is a quadrillion times better. More on that later. (Cue the ominous music again!) —K.A.

26. A Best Comedy or Musical nomination for Pride!

CBS Films

This rousing fact-based film — about a group of British gay and lesbian activists who decide to help out a Welsh mining town during the devastating miners strike in the 1980s — has sadly made little impact in the U.S. But it was just a big winner at the British Independent Film Awards, so it likely earned a space in the hearts of enough HFPA voters over perhaps some comedies with a more American sensibility. — A.B.V.

27. Quvenzhané Wallis nominated for Annie, but 28. No Best Musical nod for Annie

Columbia Pictures

Two years ago, the HFPA overlooked Quvenzhané Wallis’ stunning (and Oscar nominated) performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, so maybe they decided to make up for it by nominating her for her totally adorable performance in Annie? This would feel maybe a bit less random if Annie itself were also nominated for Best Comedy or Musical — the Globes did nominate Burlesque, after all. But hey, the Golden Globes just handed hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler some delightful opportunities to get embarrassed about making their PG-13 jokes in front of 11-year-old Wallis. —A.B.V.

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29. Wes Anderson and 30. David Fincher for Best Director

Wes Anderson’s nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fantastic surprise. The sui generis filmmaker won some of his best reviews for the film, combining his predilection for finely detailed world building with a poignant depth of feeling. (It’s also pretty damn funny.) But the movie came out way back in March, and Anderson has never personally been nominated for a Globe before, so it is genuinely exciting to see him here.

David Fincher is a similarly singular filmmaker — you know his style and sensibilities immediately. But his Best Director nomination for Gone Girl is perplexing. The movie has sparked some heated debate, but even the film’s most ardent supporters wouldn’t list Fincher’s direction among the film’s strongest attributes. And the movie itself wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, making Fincher’s nomination here doubly surprising. —A.B.V.

31. No Best Original Song nomination for The LEGO Movie’s “Everything Is Awesome”

Warner Bros.

Living up to their reputation for gravitating towards major stars, the HFPA nominated big-time recording artists in this category: Lana Del Ray (for Big Eyes), John Legend and Common (for Selma), Patti Smith (for Noah), and Lorde (for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1). And since there wasn’t any original music in Into the Woods (alas!), the new song written for the updated version of Annie also squeaked in.

So that meant there was no room to nominate the song that was easily the most memorable — and delightful! — of the year, The LEGO Movie’s “Everything Is Awesome” (which Warner Bros. is crediting solely to songwriter Shawn Patterson, though Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island perform the song in the end credits). Perhaps the HFPA resented that they had the song stuck in their heads for weeks after seeing the film? —A.B.V.

32. Nominations for The Affair, 33. Dominic West, and 34. Ruth Wilson

Play the ominous music! Look, I watch The Affair every week, and I enjoy it. I do not enjoy it, however, because it is good. It’s a trashy soap with notably bad lead performances (by good actors) that takes itself so seriously (beware of oppressive metaphors!), and goes through such elaborate narrative hoops that I cannot turn away. (To read an evisceration of this show that I agree with entirely, read Emily Nussbaum’s recent review of it.) It makes me laugh more than most comedies I watch, actually, and who can say no to that? Life is full of sadness — as the mopey characters on The Affair constantly demonstrate — so I appreciate that this show has given me a fun weekly viewing opportunity. But to be nominated for awards? And to take the spots of more deserving shows and actors? I know the Globes don’t matter, but that might be the funniest gift The Affair has given us yet! —K.A.