Golden Globes predictions: Will ‘Borat’ be the winner?

2021 Golden Globes predictions: Will ‘Borat’ be the big winner?

This year, the pandemic deprived association members of the chance to rub shoulders with big celebrities

Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to predicting winners at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, you have to imagine an array of conflicting agendas. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the ceremony, likes to bestow its trophies on films that already have plenty of Oscar momentum, but the small size of the group — around 90 eccentric journalists who vote for the Globes — leaves every category open to a shock winner.

This year, the pandemic deprived association members of the chance to rub shoulders with big celebrities, a glamorous perk that can often influence their selections. The HFPA is also under fire after a raft of recent articles exposed double-dealing practices and an insular membership that includes no Black voters, which may explain why none of the past year’s acclaimed Black-led ensembles like “Da 5 Bloods” and “One Night in Miami” made the Globes’ best-drama lineup.

Will voters try to mitigate those controversies by picking a diverse set of worthy winners, or will traditional Globe anarchy prevail? I expect a bit of both. Here are my projections for this year’s film races at the Golden Globes.

Read | Golden Globe film snubs: 'Da 5 Bloods' and Meryl Streep are shut out

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Andra Day, “United States vs. Billie Holiday”

Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”

Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

This race may come down to McDormand and Mulligan, each fronting zeitgeisty films that were also nominated in the drama, director and screenplay categories. Since Mulligan’s role as the avenging, utterly contemporary Cassie is a major change of pace for a star often seen in period pieces, I project her to win in a squeaker.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”

Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Gary Oldman, “Mank”

Tahar Rahim, “The Mauritanian”

Boseman’s status as the Oscar favorite is so presumed that if the Globes went a different way, they’d invite further scrutiny and controversy at a time when they hardly need more it. That isn’t to say the category lacks powerhouse alternatives: In any other year, Hopkins, Ahmed or Oldman might easily cruise to victory here. But not this time.

Best Motion Picture, Drama

“The Father”



“Promising Young Woman”

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

“The Father” was the only film in this lineup that didn’t also net a screenplay nomination, so it’s easily nixed, and “Mank” feels less urgent when pitted against three Big Issue dramas. “Promising Young Woman” would be the provocative, spiky pick, but Globe voters tend to gravitate toward a film with a serious chance at winning the best picture Oscar, and by that metric, “Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” have the highest hopes. This could go either way, but I’m projecting “Chicago 7,” written and directed by two-time Globe winner Aaron Sorkin.

Read | Sacha Baron Cohen: Outrageous comedian with a serious point, and two Globes nods

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Kate Hudson, “Music”

Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit”

Rosamund Pike, “I Care a Lot”

Anya Taylor-Joy, “Emma”

Bakalova delivered one of the year’s breakthrough performances as Borat’s daughter, and though she’ll be campaigned as a supporting actress for the Academy Awards, the Globes’ comedy/musical categories offer her a prime opportunity to dart into the lead race and snatch a high-profile trophy. Over a handful of contenders with long-shot Oscar hopes, she’s good as gold.

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

James Corden, “The Prom”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”

Dev Patel, “The Personal History of David Copperfield"

Andy Samberg, “Palm Springs”

Baron Cohen won this Golden Globe for the first “Borat,” and his only real competition here is the well-liked Miranda. Still, “Hamilton” peaked five years ago, and the HFPA doesn’t like to feel like the last to arrive at a party. Expect more votes for Baron Cohen, whose acceptance speech could spice up a socially distanced night.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”



“Palm Springs”

“The Prom”

“Palm Springs” and “The Prom” aren’t significant Globe threats, and the nominations for “Music” drew such ridicule that voters will probably shy away from further recognition for the Sia-directed fiasco. That leaves just “Hamilton” and “Borat,” and since the Disney+ taping of “Hamilton” won’t be Oscar-eligible, the HFPA should favor Baron Cohen’s suited prankster.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”

Olivia Colman, “The Father”

Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian”

Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”

Helena Zengel, “News of the World”

Just two years ago, Close won best actress in a drama for “The Wife,” while Colman took best actress in a musical or comedy for “The Favourite.” What happens when you put those two Globe winners head to head in this year’s supporting-actress race? Potentially, it creates enough daylight for Seyfried to slip through, but I think Colman still has the upper hand against Close for a better-reviewed film that scored Globe nominations across the board.

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Jared Leto, “The Little Things”

Bill Murray, “On the Rocks”

Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”

With Odom sitting pretty in the best-song category and Baron Cohen likelier to win for “Borat,” will voters spread the wealth here and pick someone else? Kaluuya’s magnetic performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton has a lot of Oscar heat, but the Globes have gone wacky in this category before — or don’t you remember when “Nocturnal Animals” star Aaron Taylor-Johnson beat out Mahershala Ali of “Moonlight”? That’s why I’m tempted to predict a victory for Leto, who has found baffling awards traction for “The Little Things”: It just wouldn’t feel like the Globes without one chaotic win at the top of the show.

Read | Golden Globes eye history as show goes on without stars

Best Director

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

David Fincher, “Mank”

Regina King, “One Night in Miami”

Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

This category often goes to the most technically tricky movie, which would seem to favor Fincher for the gleaming, expensive “Mank.” But Zhao is considered an Oscar front-runner, and the HFPA has taken plenty of heat for rarely recognizing women in this race. I project Zhao will become the first female director to triumph here in almost four decades, since Barbra Streisand won this Globe for “Yentl.”

Best Screenplay

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

Jack Fincher, “Mank”

Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller, “The Father”

Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

It’s the promising upstart Fennell versus the veteran Sorkin in this category. If the HFPA decides Zhao is their best-director pick, the screenplay race offers a much more natural place to reward Sorkin, and I expect the voters will seize the opportunity.

Best Foreign Language Film

“Another Round”

“La Llorona”

“The Life Ahead”


“Two of Us”

The immigrant story “Minari” couldn’t be more American, but an outdated HFPA rule shuffles it off to the foreign-film category because its characters often speak in Korean, and an even more pernicious rule decrees that those foreign films then aren’t eligible for a best-drama nomination. Knowing this, the Globes will probably reward “Minari” in an attempt to tamp down all the controversy, but the real win would be scrapping those rules altogether next time.

Best Animated Feature Film

“The Croods: A New Age”


“Over the Moon”



The much-admired “Wolfwalkers” has underdog potential, and the Globes often go for that: Just last year, the far more modest “Missing Link” won over juggernauts like “Toy Story 4” and “Frozen 2.” That said, I’m still projecting Pixar’s “Soul” to win, as it showed enough strength with the HFPA to nab one other nomination. Speaking of which …

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, “The Midnight Sky”

Ludwig Goransson, “Tenet”

James Newton Howard, “News of the World”

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, “Mank”

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste, “Soul”

Reznor and Ross are double nominees here — and will probably repeat at the Oscars — but in a best-score category, you have to assume the film about music has the edge. Expect their work with Jon Batiste on “Soul” to triumph.

Best Original Song

“Fight for You” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

“Hear My Voice” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

“Io Sì” (“The Life Ahead”)

“Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)

“Tigress & Tweed” (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”)

Leslie Odom Jr. and Andra Day received dual nominations for acting and songwriting in their films, but the Globes clearly preferred “One Night in Miami” (which also got a best-director nomination) to Day’s Billie Holiday biopic, so “Speak Now,” which Odom wrote with Sam Ashworth, has a better shot at being heard here.

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