Consider the fact that the ceremony is the most freewheeling of the bunch and the only one where the attendees drink (or at least, drink openly). Then there’s the odd way they break up the categories between drama and comedy/musical. Not to mention, hosting them has become insult specialist Ricky Gervais’s primary role in popular culture (Sunday will mark his fifth turn). Or that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the body that chooses the nominations and picks the winners, seems more interested in gathering Famous People in a room than in the films and television shows it rewards. Plus, it probably doesn’t help that the HFPA’s voting members number in the tens, as opposed to the academy’s thousands.
So, to prepare for the ceremony on Sunday, we thought we’d take a gander at the strangest projects to earn nominations (and sometimes even wins!) during this young millennium. It got even weirder than we expected.
10. 'Nip/Tuck' (2004, nominated for best TV drama; 2005, won for best TV drama)
The outcomes of some races make sense at first glance, until you see who actually competed. That’s certainly the case with 2005’s best TV drama category. Ryan Murphy’s campy plastic surgery-centric series “Nip/Tuck” was perfectly good, but the fact that it beat out Golden Age of TV powerhouses “Deadwood,” “The Sopranos,” “24” and “Lost” certainly hasn’t aged well. The bestowing of an award to a film or a show suggests that project will have a lasting cultural impact — you know, the kind that those four defeated shows have had.
9. 'Atonement' (2008, won for best drama)
“Atonement” is a fine movie. It has probably the best re-creation of the miracle at Dunkirk outside of, well, “Dunkirk.” There’s a nice twist. Keira Knightly and Saoirse Ronan both give soulful performances, and, according to one Post editor, James McAvoy is at his hottest. But when was the last time you thought about it, much less watched it? Here are some movies you probably have considered since 2007, if you’re a movie buff like us: “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Michael Clayton,” “Eastern Promises,” and maybe even “American Gangster.” Welp, “Atonement” inexplicably beat all of them.
8. Kelsey Grammer in 'Boss' (2012, won for best actor in a TV drama)
Look, it’s hard to keep track of all these shows in the age of Peak TV, and so not everyone will recognize the winners of TV awards. That said, “Boss” — a show in which Frasier, erm, Kelsey Grammer, plays the mayor of Chicago who is secretly suffering from a type of dementia — is one heck of a deep cut. The Starz show premiered to 659,000 viewers, a number that dropped to 268,000 by the third episode. None of that is to diminish Grammer’s work in the show, which was critically lauded, but this win certainly stands out as a head-scratcher, especially since it came during the height of “Breaking Bad.”
7. Jim Carrey in 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (2001, nominated for best actor in a musical/comedy)
The Hollywood Foreign Press has a particular talent for nominating its favorite actors for . . . well, anything. Case in point: Jim Carrey has been nominated for his work in “The Mask,” “Liar, Liar,” “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Kidding.” As big Carrey fans, we applaud all of these! What we don’t applaud is nominating him for Ron Howard’s shrill, frantic, live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, which one reviewer simply called “an ugly piece of work.” Anything to get the funny guy to the show, we suppose.
6. 'Mozart in the Jungle'/Gael García Bernal in 'Mozart in the Jungle' (2016, won for best TV comedy/musical and best actor in a TV comedy/musical; 2017, nominated for both)
It’s important to note that while these are the most baffling wins and nominations, that doesn’t mean the recipients are undeserving. The Amazon Studios series “Mozart in the Jungle,” a drama centered on the classical music world, is a prime example. The show was, to use polite journalistic parlance, relatively unknown to the common television viewer when both it and its lead actor won Globes in 2016. Unlike some on this list, however, it was actually a good show. Its win (and nominations the next year) represents the power the Golden Globes has to introduce a latent audience to undiscovered art — if only they employed that power more frequently. (Repeat after us: Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
5. 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' (2012, nominated for best musical/comedy)
Do you remember “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”?
4. Mel Gibson in "What Women Want" (2001, nominated for best actor in a musical/comedy)
This is a movie in which Gibson’s womanizing character suddenly receives the ability to read women’s minds and uses that to continuously harass a woman into dating him after she’s firmly told him “no” several times, because he can read her thoughts against her will and is secretly aware of her ambivalence. He also pretends to be gay to end a relationship. Yeah, the point of the movie is he learns about his toxic masculinity and all that. Still, there are better methods of education. The movie doesn’t hold up now, but it didn’t hold up then, either.
3. 'Nine' (2010, nominated for best musical/comedy)
The notoriously discerning Daniel Day-Lewis generally chooses successful projects — until “Nine,” the musical-drama adapted from a stage musical of the same name, which was itself an adaptation of Federico Fellini’s “8½.” It was a disaster. Critics hated it, giving it a 39 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest of Day-Lewis’s career. Audiences didn’t seem much more enamored. The movie cost $80 million and made $257,232 on its opening weekend, eventually making just under $20 million domestically and little impact on our culture. Let’s put it this way: It was bested in the comedy/musical category by “The Hangover.”
2. 'The Tourist'/'Burlesque'/'Red'/'Alice in Wonderland' (2011, nominated for best musical/comedy)
The musical or comedy category from 2011 must be the Globes’ most baffling this millennium, if not ever. Talk about overvaluing stars: This category had Cher and Christina Aguilera in “Burlesque”; Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich in the action-comedy “Red”; Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in “The Tourist”; and Depp (again) and Helena Bonham Carter in “Alice in Wonderland.” What’s missing from the category is movies that either critics or audiences deemed enjoyable, aside from “The Kids Are All Right,” which earned the prize.
1. "Green Book" (2019, won for best musical/comedy)
We know, we know. This vaguely racist, entirely milquetoast Hallmark card of a movie went on to win best picture at the Oscars, but that doesn’t mean we can excuse its surprise victory a month earlier. Just setting aside that this is a movie in which a racist white dude “teaches” a black dude to eat fried chicken (really), the film was already mired in controversy by the time the Golden Globes rolled around. The surviving family of Don Shirley, the Jamaican American pianist played by Mahershala Ali in the movie, had vehemently disputed the film’s accuracy. Not that movies have a mandate to be historically accurate — they’re not journalism — but “Green Book” polarized critics, such as Monique Judge at the Root, who wrote that it “spoon-feeds racism to white people.” But the movie survived everything thrown its way and received a nice, shiny globe for best comedy or musical — even though it was neither.