Golden Globes 2021 Final Predictions: Which Films and Performances Will Score Nominations?

Clayton Davis
·15 min read

As the film awards season continues to take shape in this unconventional year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 72nd annual Golden Globes will be one of the first big needle movers for contenders. For films, the voting body has an opportunity to recognize a larger group of films and performances with its comedy and drama splits among the categories.

This year, films like “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Mank,” both from Netflix, could lead the tally, currently predicted for five nominations, which would mirror the same nomination tally as last year’s “The Irishman” from Martin Scorsese.

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There doesn’t seem to be one film that could dominate with a wide-open year that could dominate, as seen in previous years, or long-standing records being broken. Currently, Robert Altman’s “Nashville” has the most nominations ever received with 11. Unless you’re predicting five men from Sorkin’s “Trial of the Chicago 7” taking up all available slots in best supporting actor, no film looks anywhere near touching this record.

However, Sacha Baron Cohen can break a record held by Jamie Foxx for receiving the most Golden Globe nominations in a single year. Foxx was nominated for three in 2004 for his performances in “Collateral,” “Ray” and “Redemption: The Stan Tookie Story.” Cohen could receive up to five nominations for best picture (comedy for “Borat”), actor (comedy for “Borat”), supporting actor (for “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), screenplay (co-writing “Borat”) and original song (co-writing “Wuhan Flu”). He’s currently predicted to receive two.

Down below, you can find the final Golden Globe nomination predictions in all the film categories.

MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

  • “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

  • “Mank” (Netflix)

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

ALTERNATE: “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)

“Nomadland” has dominated the critics’ awards and should find its place among the nominated films. This could easily become a spot where Netflix takes up the remaining spots with their arsenal of films this year. “Mank,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” seem like safe bets, but something with the European sensibilities like “The Father” could take one of the spots. It’s also rumored that the group really digs “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” which we shouldn’t discount. The latter could emulate a former nominee like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which won the category. I also have a sneaking suspicion that could see a tie occur, which would result in six nominees, something that hasn’t occurred since 2011, where “The Descendants” triumphed. It’s also important to note, just because films like “One Night in Miami,” “Promising Young Woman” and “Sound of Metal” are predicted to miss, and are ranked on the lower side of the charts, remember that films like “Capote,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and an eventual best picture winner “Crash” all found best picture recognition without love from the HFPA.

MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)

  • “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)

  • “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus)

  • “Palm Springs” (Hulu/Neon)

  • “The Prom” (Netflix)

ALTERNATE: “The Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures)

There are two musicals from streamers in the mix, “Hamilton” from Disney Plus and “The Prom” from Netflix, that seem like assured spots. Simultaneously, the laughs of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” along with likely having the two frontrunners of the Globes acting categories, will surely keep it in the conversation. “On the Rocks” and “Palm Springs” could be the strongest candidates for the final slots, but the European flavor of “The Personal History of David Copperfield” or the sheer star-power of “Wild Mountain Thyme” could get it over the hump. What’s interesting is, at least for the predicting moment, we may not have a best picture nominee come out of the top comedy category, which hadn’t occurred since 2009 when “The Hangover” reigned supreme.

MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED

  • “Onward” (Pixar)

  • “Over the Moon” (Netflix)

  • “Soul” (Pixar)

  • “The Willoughbys” (Netflix)

  • “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

ALTERNATE: “The Croods: A New Age” (DreamWorks Animation)

The HFPA likes to typically stick with the populist selections in this category since its creation in 2006. There were 17 features submitted, as compared to the Academy’s 27, so this falls within the big four default choices — “Onward,” “Over the Moon,” “Soul” and “Wolfwalkers.” That last spot could be sprinkled with either “The Croods: A New Age” or “The Willoughbys,” the latter of which I’m giving the edge to. I also wouldn’t count out “Trolls: World Tour.”

MOTION PICTURE – FOREIGN LANGUAGE

  • “Another Round” (Denmark)

  • “La Llorona” (Guatemala)

  • “The Life Ahead” (Italy)

  • “Minari” (USA)

  • “Two Of Us” (France)

ALTERNATE: “I’m No Longer Here” (Mexico)

This category is not usually a strong indicator for the Academy Awards as they don’t just consider the country submissions, but also all foreign language films. There has already been quite a lot of controversy surrounding “Minari” being submitted in this category by A24 due to HFPA’s rules regarding languages. It may have helped it outside the category with contenders like Yuh-Jung Youn and Steven Yeun. Expect to see Sophia Loren’s star vehicle, “The Life Ahead,” to make an entry, especially since Italy’s official submission “Notturno” is not eligible due to its documentary status. Films like “Another Round” and “Two of Us” should find their way fairly easily, but it’ll be interesting if “I’m No Longer Here” or “La Llorona” get a spot that seems like it can go to a Spanish speaking feature.

BEST ACTOR – DRAMA

  • Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)

  • Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

  • Anthony Hopkins, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

  • Mads Mikkelsen, “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

ALTERNATE: Ben Affleck, “The Way Back” (Warner Bros.)

This is where it can get interesting as four of the predicted nominees feel safe for some love — Riz Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Hopkins and Delroy Lindo. That seemingly last spot could go to a variety of individuals. There’s a chance for European stars such as the currently predicted Mads Mikkelsen (“Another Round”) to pop up, who also has the best chance of any submitted international feature to find recognition outside the Oscars category. Colin Firth (“Supernova”), Jude Law (“The Nest”) and Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”) also seem viable. Then there’s the star power of contenders like Ben Affleck (“The Way Back”), George Clooney (“The Midnight Sky”), Tom Hanks (“News of the World”) or one from the Washington family, John David (“Malcolm & Marie”) or Denzel (“The Little Things”).

BEST ACTOR – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)

  • Jamie Dornan, “Wild Mountain Thyme” (Bleecker Street)

  • Leslie Odom, Jr, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)

  • Dev Patel, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Andy Samberg, “Palm Springs” (Hulu/Neon)

ALTERNATE: Will Ferrell, “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” (Netflix)

Sacha Baron Cohen won this award in 2006 for the first outing of “Borat.” He’ll be the first actor since Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”) to be nominated for a sequel performance, which coincidentally happened the year Cohen won. Doing a glance, if Cohen manages to win in this category, he would be the first in the category’s history to win for a sequel and its predecessor. The rest of the contenders is fluid as alternates like Will Ferrell (once nominated for “The Producers”), Lin-Manuel Miranda (former nominee for “Mary Poppins Returns”) and potential first-timers Michael Angelo Covino and James Corden could make some noise.

BEST ACTRESS – DRAMA

  • Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

  • Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu)

  • Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)

  • Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

ALTERNATE: Zendaya, “Malcolm & Marie” (Netflix)

This is the hardest category to predict of the film bunch. Davis and McDormand feel secure. There were some rumblings about members of the HFPA not really liking “Promising Young Woman,” which makes us a tad worried for Carey Mulligan, but we expect her to pull through. I also heard the group is loving “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” which could help Andra Day make an entry. That leaves three Netflix contenders with Sophia Loren (“The Life Ahead”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) and Zendaya (“Malcolm & Marie”) to wiggle their way through, assuming the rumors are correct. Perhaps this is another spot where six nominees show up, like at the Independent Spirit Awards?

BEST ACTRESS – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)

  • Emily Blunt, “Wild Mountain Thyme” (Bleecker Street)

  • Meryl Streep, “The Prom” (Netflix)

  • Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • Anya Taylor-Joy, “Emma.” (Focus Features)

ALTERNATE: Rashida Jones, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus)

One of the darlings of the awards circuit, Maria Bakalova, may be heavily in the running to win this category, which would make her the first since Maggie Smith (“California Suite”) to win this award and go on to be nominated in the supporting category. That’s assuming the Oscar love is real. Meryl Streep could be a double threat, like in 2009 when she won for “Julie and Julia” and was also nominated for “It’s Complicated.” This year, she has “The Prom” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Let Them All Talk.” After Emily Blunt received nods for “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and “The Young Victoria,” it’s undeniable that the group loves her. Again, playing to European tastes, Anya Taylor-Joy could squeeze out a nom for her turn in “Emma.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – MOTION PICTURE

  • Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

  • Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

  • Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)

  • Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus)

  • Leslie Odom Jr, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

ALTERNATE: Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)

This is where things could get crazy in the awards race. The HFPA is not always great at picking out large ensembles’ standout, proven by the shutout of “Spotlight” in the acting category in 2015. We have a few of those this year with “One Night in Miami” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” With the former, I’m suspecting Kingsley Ben-Adir to pop up with a mention, which will surely muddy his awards prospects since he’s lead for SAG and the Oscars. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in lieu of co-star Leslie Odom Jr, who also could be nominated in the comedy category for “Hamilton.” The love for Sorkin’s film is big within the HFPA, with many standouts being cited, including Cohen, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. They might cancel each other out, making room for Bill Murray, who’s been nominated many times, including a win for “Lost in Translation.” Word through the grapevine also suggests that “Judas and the Black Messiah” is loved by them, which could start up the Daniel Kaluuya train to the Academy. And let’s not forget, this could also be the official starting point for first-time double posthumous nominee Chadwick Boseman. With star power always a factor with the L.A.-based journalists, I feel that could leave our season sweeper Paul Raci on the outside (at least just for the Globes).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – MOTION PICTURE

  • Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)

  • Olivia Colman, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian” (STXfilms)

  • Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (Netflix)

  • Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari” (A24)

ALTERNATE: Nicole Kidman, “The Prom” (Netflix)

Colman, Seyfried and Youn feel safe. Burstyn could be vulnerable if we’re in store for a shutout of “Pieces of a Woman” like at the Independent Spirit Awards. That could free up a spot or two for Jodie Foster, former Cecil B. Demille recipient, or Nicole Kidman, who they adore. This also could be a spot that gives hope to Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) or Saoirse Ronan’s (“Ammonite”) Oscar prospects, if they can manage a mention. When it comes to this category at the Globes, they tend to stay within the realm of reason for contenders, even if their eventual nominees don’t translate (for example, Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers” or Claire Foy for “First Man”). They tend to feel like they were in the number 6-7-8 spot of contender listings.

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE

  • George Clooney, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)

  • David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)

  • Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

  • Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

  • Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

ALTERNATE: Florian Zeller, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Last year’s Globes lineup for director matched 5/5 with the Academy, even when many thought Todd Phillips seemed like a long shot. But that match up doesn’t happen too often as the last time was with the 1980 film year (David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Robert Redford, Richard Rush, Martin Scorsese). In between, we usually get some big names like Peter Jackson (“King Kong”), which explains George Clooney’s prediction. They also love David Fincher, previously nominating him for “Gone Girl” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Now and again, we get a lone director in the lineup like Ridley Scott (“All the Money in the World”) or Tom Ford (“Nocturnal Animals”). That could be Spike Lee this year if “Da 5 Bloods” misses one of the available places. While many cross their fingers that Chloé Zhao will continue her streak with a nomination, she will be the first Asian woman to be nominated by the Globes, but won’t hold the same distinction at the Oscars as the first woman of color. Ava DuVernay was nominated for “Selma” in 2014. It should be noted, though, the HFPA has still only awarded one woman in this category in its history — Barbra Streisand for 1983’s “Yentl,” and she didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It’s long past the time to close that 37-year gap. Let me also put on the record — watch out for Christopher Nolan (“Tenet”).

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE

  • “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) – Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee

  • “Mank” (Netflix) – Jack Fincher

  • “Minari” (A24) – Lee Isaac Chung

  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Aaron Sorkin

ALTERNATE: “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller

They love Aaron Sorkin, plain and simple. Every feature script he’s written has been nominated by the HFPA, except 1993’s “Malice.” He’s a shoo-in for a nomination here. Since the category doesn’t separate based on original or adapted works, history has favored the former contenders. Expect some love for Fincher’s late father, Jack, along with a possible spot for Lee Isaac Chung.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE

  • “Mank” (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

  • “News of the World” (Universal Pictures) – James Newton Howard

  • “Soul” (Pixar) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

  • “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) – Ludwig Göransson

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton

ALTERNATE: “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat

One of the clear signs of proof on how this group differs from the Academy, especially with the music branch. Over the last decade, seven of the winners have won the Oscar, which is a strong indicator. However, there are other instances where the winner fails to get nominated like “All is Lost” and “First Man.” Even Alexandre Desplat’s Oscar-winning “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was snubbed by the HFPA, though his other nominated work on “The Imitation Game” was shortlisted. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have won this race before and have managed two other nominations, all for Fincher films. Expect a double nomination for them this year, at least with the Globes, for “Mank” and “Soul.” The group also likes Daniel Pemberton quite a bit, as he’s been nominated three times despite never receiving AMPAS love. Ludwig Göransson feels like someone that will get a nomination but can’t figure out if it will be here or in original song (“The Plan” from “Tenet”). Flipping a coin feels like he could be here.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE

  • “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) – H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas

  • “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi

  • “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ashworth

  • “Everybody Cries” from “The Outpost” (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment) – Rod Lurie, Larry Groupé, Rita Wilson

  • “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton, Celeste

ALTERNATE: “Húsavík” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” (Netflix) – Savan Kotecha, Rickard Goransson, fat max Gsus

This is the one HFPA category where it’s difficult to follow the history that could provide eventual nominees hints. They obviously have chosen the Oscar frontrunners (like “City of Stars” from “La La Land”), chart-topping pop songs (“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”), and others that, quite frankly, can’t be explained (like “Masterpiece” from “W.E.”). It seems to all boil down to, follow the famous people. H.E.R., Diane Warren, Leslie Odom Jr feel like those selections, and also can translate to the Academy. “The Outpost” feels like that surprise entry on the day while the Daniel Pemberton love looks appropriate, especially considering he was nominated for “Gold.”

2021 Golden Globes Predictions (Film)

2020-2021 Golden Globes Awards Timeline

  • Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards are announced at 8:35 a.m. ET / 5:35 a.m. PT – Feb. 3, 2021

  • Final ballots mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young – Feb. 23, 2021

  • 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air live coast to coast at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California – Feb. 28, 2021

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