The Golden Globes will be handed out this Sunday, February 28. As every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will reward the actors, directors, films and series judged to be the best. But revelations about the organization of this ceremony undermine this regularly criticized institution.
Every year, the non-specialist media call them the “Oscars antechamber”. Presented in the same splendor as the biggest Hollywood ceremonies, the Golden Globe Awards traditionally open the awards season and seem to be a moment of truth and approval of the whole film industry towards the best talent, then confirmed by the Oscars. . It is not, especially since the selection for the Oscars is rarely identical to that of the Golden Globes. One week away from the 7th Golden Globes, the Los Angeles Times publishes a long investigation listing the pitfalls of the organization of the ceremony which will take place on February 28 in virtual (March 1 between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. French time, to follow live on Canal), the nominees being all over the world due to pandemic.
A small group of 87 foreign journalists
Unlike the Oscars, presented each year by around 4,000 members of the Academy of Cinema, all of them from the profession, the Golden Globe Awards are awarded by only 87 people, none of whom work directly in the film industry. These are 87 international journalists representing foreign media in Los Angeles. Very few, if any, are employed full time by a media, they are mostly freelancers, and work to order. What do they have in common? Write articles or report on cinema. From year to year, most of them are renewed. Hence the fairly advanced average age of this group.
Sued by a Norwegian journalist
Three months ago, Norwegian entertainment journalist Kjersti Flaa sued the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) after her candidacy for membership was rejected. She accused the HFPA of having “institutionalized a culture of corruption” rejecting applications yet up to the task. She described a lack of ethics, with members accepting “thousands of dollars from studios, or celebrities to whom they then award trophies”, all this while imposing “a certain law of silence”.
A judge finally dismissed her complaint, considering in particular that she had not suffered financial damage as a result of the refusal of her candidacy. But some HFPA members themselves regret this decision. Like the one quoted by the Los Angeles Times, on condition of anonymity:
“This decision disappointed me. I thought it could have made a difference. We are an archaic organization. I still think that the HFPA needs to have the pressure to change.”
Lack of diversity
The Los Angeles Times also notes that in this group of 87 members, none are black. And in the list of nominees, several films led by blacks like “Da 5 Bloods “ from Spike Lee or the HBO series “I May Destroy you“do not appear in the nominations. Both have nevertheless received a very good critical reception. Also absent from the main categories, the films”My Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Judas and the Black Messiah“. Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett, from the HBO movie”Lovecraft Country“, do not appear either, as the actress Uzo Aduba for”Mrs. America“, when she won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series last September.
Asked about the subject by the Los Angeles Times, a spokesperson for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association acknowledged the absence of blacks in the selected works and in her organization, and “undertakes to solve this problem”.
In a press release published this Thursday, in particular by Variety magazine, the HFPA admits not having succeeded in having a more diverse selection committee.
“It is true that we need to include more black members, but also members representing different backgrounds, and we will work immediately on putting a plan in place to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”
A spokesperson added that “All Southern California-based journalists from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds who write for international media can apply.”, adding that the current group is predominantly female, with 35% non-European members.
The Affair of the Netflix Series “Emily in Paris”: Corrupt Members?
The surprise in the nominations this year also came from the series Emily in Paris, a rosewater series broadcast on Netflix, or the story of a young American settling in the French capital. A series made of clichés and cardboard decorations far from having pleased the critics. However, Emily in Paris finds herself selected in the category of best series, but also in the category of best actresses for her heroine Lily Collins.
The Los Angeles Times seems to have found an explanation: members of the HFPA would have received lavish gifts in 2019, for the release of the series. Thirty of them would have traveled to France at the expense of Paramount studios to attend part of the filming. They would then have been treated as “Kings”, housed in a five-star hotel in the capital.
Members of the HFPA have privileged access to the stars, are invited to press conferences in exotic locations, accommodated in luxury hotels and a few weeks away from awards, are entitled to gifts, dinners and are invited at parties for VIPs.
Highly paid members
The LA Times also claims that the HFPA pays its members large sums for attending committees or for writing a few lines on its website, which is otherwise not entirely satisfactory. Between June 2019 and June 2020, for example, members of the HFPA would have received nearly two million dollars. Some would receive several thousand dollars a month for simply contributing to the website of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. While members of other organizations such as the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards or the Grammy Awards are volunteers.
But funding and audiences on the rise
The organization has an unstoppable trump card in its defense: While the ceremonies have seen audience declines in recent years, the audience for the Golden Globes remains stable, with 18 to 20 million viewers each year. The ceremony lasts 4 hours and is broadcast on NBC. The channel donated more than $ 27 million to the HFPA in 2020, an amount that has been rising steadily every year (it went from less than $ 5 million in 2016 to over $ 27 million in 2020).
Among the nominated this year for the 78th edition of the Golden Globe Awards, note the French film “Of them” (Two of us) by Filippo Meneghetti in the category best foreign film, and the French actor Tahar Rahim in the best actor category for the British American film “Designated guilty “ (The Mauritanian).
The Oscars will be held exceptionally on April 25, 2021.
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Accusations of corruption, lack of diversity, questionable selection: the Golden Globes in the hot seat