In film, the Golden Globes voting committee, known as the HFPA, have been very liberal and refreshing with their nominations following the #OscarsSoWhite outcry of the last few years. Black Panther, Black Klansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Crazy Rich Asians, all films with minority casts or focussing on minority culture, all gained multiple nominations this year.
However, in the television nominations, there was a big surprise for Atlanta, who found itself limited to one nomination. Atlanta was expected to do well again after picking up two Golden Globes and two Emmys last year for its debut season. But this year its lone nomination comes for Donald Glover for best actor, with the show being snubbed in the best television series category for comedy.
Leading the way this year is The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which picked up four nominations. Elsewhere the nods are pretty evenly shared out, with a number of new shows gaining plaudits. The likes of Barry, Homecoming, The Kominsky Method, and Kidding gained multiple nominations with their debut seasons. But of course this meant that some of the seasoned shows that were expected to gain multiple nominations, such as the aforementioned Atlanta and Westworld, found themselves limited to one nomination each despite widespread acclaim.
But who were the biggest winners and losers in the television nominations?
Winners in television: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, The Good Place, and The Kominsky Method
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story was the obvious big winner in the nominations, picking up nods for best limited series, best actor for Darren Criss, best supporting actor for Edgar Ramirez, and best supporting actress for Penelope Cruz. Elsewhere, it was the best television series category for comedy which provided pleasant surprises for the new shows.
The likes of Barry, Kidding, and The Kominsky Method, wowed the judges with their debut seasons. The Kominsky Method was a real sleeper hit, quietly arriving on Netflix. The comedy, starring Oscar winners Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, and created by Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, Dharma & Greg, The Big Bang Theory), was praised for its astute blending of comedy and old age.
The Good Place, now in its third season, finally gained the plaudits it deserved. The comedy, which focusses on the afterlife, had previously been ignored by the Golden Globes and the Emmys despite critical acclaim. But it seems that the HFPA have finally realised how rewarding a show The Good Place is. The show gained nominations for best television series (comedy) and best actress for Kristen Bell. However, Ted Danson may be feeling a little robbed with his omission from the best supporting actor category.
Also, a special mention for Regina King and Amy Adams who both picked up nominations in film and television. King picked up best supporting actress nominations for If Beale Street Could Talk and Seven Seconds, whilst Adams was nominated in the same categories for Vice and the brilliant Sharp Objects.
Losers in television: Maniac, This Is Us, and Atlanta
The best limited series category is often the wildest of the bunch at the Golden Globes. This year, alongside Versace, there’s a Ben Stiller-directed prison break drama (Escape at Dannemora), a male prostitute murder mystery set in 1890s New York (The Alienist), and the latest psychological, labyrinthine mystery from HBO (Sharp Objects) to name a few. And considering the pedigree and reviews of the highly-anticipated Netflix series Maniac, it’s odd to see it completely shut out.
Directed by Cary Fukunaga, producer and director of the remarkable first season of True Detective, and starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, critics praised its existential angle, Fukunaga’s visual and directorial style, and the performances of Stone and Hill. Maniac is one of the most brilliantly absurd limited series of the year, and is particularly pertinent in an age where the stigma of mental health is being gradually dissolved. Therefore it’s quite disappointing to see it overlooked completely.
Another surprise snub, more so considering its success during previous awards seasons, is the popular ensemble drama This Is Us. The show’s previous seasons have picked up Golden Globes and Emmys among a long list of awards but the third season is clearly less adored by the HFPA. After picking up three nominations last year, including a best actor win for Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us has been shut out this year by a slew of new shows including BBC productions Killing Eve and Bodyguard.
And finally, let’s end where we began: Atlanta. Positively, Atlanta gained a best actor nod for the culturally ubiquitous Donald Glover but it failed to be recognised elsewhere. It is a measure of the depth of quality in 2018. With Netflix, Amazon, and HBO going from strength to strength each year, it’s no surprise that shows as good as Maniac, This Is Us, and Atlanta are being ignored. But as good as the crop is this year I just can’t fathom how Atlanta in particular has been limited to a solitary nomination. The show balances the surreal with the stark reality of its social commentary so adroitly and this becomes more potent when set to the testing sociocultural backdrop western culture finds itself in. It’s important to escape to softer, reassuring entertainment, but I think it’s more important to recognise the skill of effectively critiquing contemporary culture in a way that’s engaging and entertaining.