Encanto Encanto

They may not have a broadcaster, but the 79th Golden Globes are going ahead anyway amid a cloud of controversy. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which runs the awards, will reveal winners on January 9. The nominations were announced by Snoop Dogg this morning during a livestream.

The nominees for best animated motion picture are:

  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • My Sunny Maad
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

Most strikingly, Disney (including Pixar) is the only U.S. studio represented in the list. All its self-produced features of the year — Pixar’s Luca, and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon — are up for the award.

This in itself isn’t unprecedented: we only need to go back two years to find the last time Disney had three nominations. Nor is the fact that two European indie films, in this case Flee and My Sunny Maad, are nominated: this happened in 2017. But these two situations have combined to squeeze out the rest of Hollywood, including Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Vivo, and Universal’s Sing 2 and The Boss Baby: Family Business. This is the first time only one U.S. studio is represented among the nominees for the Globes’ animation award.

Disney and Pixar have taken 11 of the 15 past awards in this category, and a European title has never won. The Mouse is likely to walk away triumphant again. But Flee, which was released in the U.S. by Neon and Participant, is having a remarkable awards run and should not be written off.

My Sunny Maad, a drama set in Afghanistan (as Flee partly is), has had a lower profile, despite winning a prize at Annecy. It doesn’t have an announced U.S. distributor. That it has been nominated at all, ahead of more prominent European films like Netflix’s The Summit of the Gods, will count as a victory. It is the only film here to have a female director, in Michaela Pavlátová. (Encanto has a female co-director, Charise Castro Smith.)

My Sunny Maad
“My Sunny Maad”

Note: the rules were changed this year to allow animated features to be nominated for the two best motion picture awards (drama, and musical or comedy). None were. Encanto was also nominated for best original score and best original song.

Pixar’s Soul was named best animated motion picture last year. It later emerged that co-director Kemp Powers was only made a nominee hours before the ceremony. Powers is Black, and it is notable that the Globes were facing fierce criticism over their lack of diversity in the run-up to the awards.

The HFPA has always been dogged by scandal. But controversy hit a new pitch of intensity in the past year, after media reports — including a major exposé by the Los Angeles Times — surfaced problems like ethical lapses at the organization and the fact that it didn’t have a single Black member. HFPA pledged diversity reform, but missteps continued.

Soon stars were condemning the association. Publicists and studios announced that they would boycott the ceremony, arguing the proposed reform didn’t go far enough. The awards’ longtime broadcaster NBC announced in May that it would not air the 2022 ceremony.

The HFPA has since enacted some changes, which it trumpeted in its livestream today before announcing the nominees. It has added 21 members to diversify its ranks and partnered with the NAACP to devise further initiatives. The group hopes the Globes will return to a tv broadcast in 2023, but it remains to be seen how NBC and Hollywood judge its reforms.