Get ready for another Hollywood “awards season” with a lot more than just who claims trophies on its mind.
The Golden Globes have honored the movie that went on to win the Oscar for best picture seven times in the last 15 years — a spotty track record, given that its split drama and musical/comedy categories provide two stabs at identifying the eventual champ.
While the event’s reputation as an Academy Award bellwether has somewhat dimmed, the Globes’ position kicking off awards season has elevated its significance in setting the tone for addressing controversies, as the entertainment industry navigates a thorny political and public-relations thicket of black-tie ceremonies.
Last year, the Globes offered a combustible mix of broadsides at then-President-elect Donald Trump, highlighted by career-achievement honoree Meryl Streep deriding Trump without naming him. He retaliated by calling her “overrated” on Twitter.
The pattern repeated itself during the parade of award presentations that followed, with the Globes having seemingly “laid to rest” any likelihood of cooling tensions between the new president and Hollywood, as the New York Times observed.
The relationship between the Trump administration and high-profile liberal power players hasn’t grown cozier in the past 12 months. Trump has become a regular punchline at such affairs, although the fear that his supporters will tune out and depress ratings is, at this point, probably pretty well baked into the formula.
Tackling the White House, however, is just one area of potential discomfort, as the show-business community — still reeling from the fallout of sexual-assault allegations — tries to get its own house in order.
Those scandals began with producer and influential awards kingpin Harvey Weinstein, followed by a wave of other executives, producers and talent. While industry groups have begun orchestrating collective responses, it’s unclear how much of that will seep into the ceremony, beyond a plan to make a fashion statement about the issue by wearing black attire.
Separate concerns also linger about minority and female representation within Hollywood, which triggered the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015. Despite conscious efforts to boost diversity, it remains to be seen whether inroads made last year — with movies like “Moonlight,” “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” — were a genuine sign of progress or a blip on a bumpy road.
As usual, whatever the producers would like to see happen, live award shows can head in unpredictable directions once the acceptance speeches begin.
Streep, it’s worth noting, is nominated yet again, this time for her role as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a movie whose theme — about the newspaper standing up to the Nixon administration in the 1970s — consciously echoes the current climate.
In terms of politics, the scripted banter also figures to be a bit more direct. Presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the Globes will be hosted by NBC late-night star Seth Meyers, a more acerbic practitioner of political comedy than his lead-in Jimmy Fallon, who emceed last year. The awards-late-night connection included Stephen Colbert presiding over CBS’ Emmy telecast in September, with Jimmy Kimmel slated to reprise his role overseeing the Oscars.
NBC is promoting the Globes with Meyers and the ad line, “Hollywood, we have a lot to talk about.”
If recent history is any guide, winners will indeed have plenty more to say than just “thank you.” The delicacy resides in acknowledging the various elephants in the room, without putting too much of a damper on what’s traditionally supposed to be a festive, self-promotional occasion.
The Golden Globes will air Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.