The HFPA doesn’t honor nonfiction anymore, but if they did…
Out of all the reasons not to take the Golden Globes seriously, my first choice is the fact that they’re still one of the only major movie awards that doesn’t honor nonfiction cinema. Even the MTV Movie Awards have a Best Documentary award. You’d think the rising popularity of docs and celebrity involvement and subject matter would have the Hollywood Foreign Press Association eventually changing their mind after a 40 year absence of such a category.
As long as they don’t have a doc award, I like to imagine what if they did. As an annual tradition in guessing what would have been honored if the category had come back, here’s my shortlist for the most star-studded docs of 2017, in order of their likelihood of recognition:
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds — The HFPA like to nominate stars who will come to the ceremony and party with them, but they surely loved Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds enough that they’d have recognized this movie as a tribute to the mother-daughter duo. Fisher was actually never nominated for a Golden Globe, while Reynolds received five nods over a span of 46 years. The doc’s director, Fisher Stevens, never received a nomination for his acting work, though there were a few years where he was a regular Golden Globes attendee with then-wife Michelle Pfeiffer.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond — Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton — While Jim Carrey has never been nominated for an Academy Award, the Golden Globes have considered him six times. He’s even won twice, including a Best Actor trophy for his performance in Man on the Moon, the making of which is highlighted in this feature produced by Spike Jonze and directed by Chris Smith. Andy Kaufman, whom Carrey portrays in that movie, was also nominated twice for a Golden Globe for his work on the sitcom Taxi.
Spielberg — As far as the hope and assumption that famous doc subjects would attend the ceremony if their respective profiles were recognized, this would have been a certainty. Steven Spielberg just received his 13th Golden Globe nomination (he’s won twice, plus he’s been honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award), so he’d likely have been there anyway.
Gaga: Five Foot Two — Lady Gaga is also a Golden Globe winner, for her performance on the series American Horror Story two years ago, and now she’s the subject of this candid documentary profiling her life as she works on the album Joanne.
If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast — Nominating this doc would be a good excuse to get nonagenarian icons such as Carl Reiner (never nominated), Norman Lear (never nominated), Mel Brooks (four-time nominee, non-winner), Dick Van Dyke (two-time nominee, non-winner), and Betty White (four-time nominee, non-winner) on stage together.
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold — It’s been more than 30 years since Griffin Dunne received his only Golden Globe nomination, for his lead performance in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. With this doc, which is about his famous aunt, they’d have now recognized him as a director.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story — Susan Sarandon, who just received her ninth Golden Globe nomination (still no wins), is an executive producer on this biographical film about the titular actress/inventor. And it’s already an acclaimed work, having just been named best doc of the year by the New York Film Critics Online group.
Bobbi Jene — Elvira Lind is the director behind this beautiful nonfiction character study of dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, and while the filmmaker isn’t much of a celebrity in her own right her partner is movie star Oscar Isaac (who also appears briefly on screen with his Star Wars: The Last Jedi co-star Laura Dern).
I Am Heath Ledger — Heath Ledger, who received a Golden Globes nomination for Brokeback Mountain and then won the award posthumously for The Dark Knight, is the subject of this doc. Although his ex, current Golden Globe nominee Michelle Williams, didn’t participate in the doc, cameras would surely be on her during an acceptance speech if it won the award.
78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene — The HFPA must have an appreciation for Alfred Hitchcock, even though the only time they nominated him for Best Director was for one of his last and less-celebrated movies, Frenzy. Still, this star-studded doc features interviews with current Golden Globe nominee Guillermo del Toro and Jamie Lee Curtis might be their bag.