Can 'Barbenheimer' save scandal-tainted Golden Globes?

Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer and Robert Downey Jr is Lewis Strauss in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. Picture: Supplied/Universal Pictures

Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer and Robert Downey Jr is Lewis Strauss in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. Picture: Supplied/Universal Pictures

Published Jan 5, 2024


Organisers of the newly reformed Golden Globes hope that a ‘Barbenheimer’ love-in can help to revitalise Hollywood's famously fun-loving but scandal-dogged awards gala on Sunday.

Kicking off prize-giving season from the usual swanky Beverly Hills ballroom at 5pm , the Globes boast new owners and new voters - and have plenty of box-office gold to toast.

The show is expected to celebrate ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ - two movies that wowed critics and audiences alike when they were released simultaneously last summer, and have a whopping 17 nominations between them.

"They are so different than each other, yet they were both successful... We're thrilled that they're both very represented here," said this year's Globes producer Glenn Weiss.

"It's been a big reset for the Globes," he told AFP.

Greta Gerwig's ‘Barbie,’ which turned nostalgia for the beloved doll into a sharp satire about misogyny and female empowerment, leads the way with nine nods.

It is tipped to win the Globes for best comedy film and best screenplay, and boasts three of the six contenders for best song. As the year's highest grossing movie, it is also likely to claim a newly created award for box office achievement.

Christopher Nolan's ‘Oppenheimer' - the other half of last summer's viral cinematic phenomenon - tells the story of the inventor of the atomic bomb, and has eight nominations.

The favourite to win awards for best drama film, best director, and best score, ‘Oppenheimer’ focuses on the rivalry between a brilliant scientist and a powerful politician, played by Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. respectively.

They are strong contenders for best lead drama actor and supporting actor.


The Globes - which for decades have offered huge publicity and a timely boost to Oscars hopefuls - will be under scrutiny as they aim to bounce back from years of declining audiences.

Allegations of corruption and racism led to an industry boycott in recent years. The show was taken off air entirely in 2022, and several A-listers skipped last year's edition.

Since then, the rowdy, obscure group of Los Angeles-based foreign journalists that created the Globes 80 years ago has been disbanded, and a wider net of overseas critics was brought in to choose this year's winners.

Along with movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio (’Killers of the Flower Moon’), nominees include big names from the world of music such as Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa - both for best song - and Taylor Swift for her recent concert movie.

Despite the Globes' recent travails, Weiss hopes A-listers will be keen to finally celebrate together again, after an annus horribilis in which the industry was crippled by strikes.

Stars who were unable to promote their movies during the months-long Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) walkout may use the occasion to make up for lost time on the Oscars campaign trail.

"We want this to be a great opening season party that everybody feels that energy from. We all have lived through strikes together. We all are now out of that," said Weiss.

Just don't expect the Globes scandals and consequent reforms to be mentioned by organisers.

"I kind of think that's been said," said Weiss. "Right now we're just making a party."

Cooper eyes double

If Murphy misses out on best actor in a drama, it will likely be to Bradley Cooper, who plays Leonard Bernstein in ‘Maestro.’

Cooper is also nominated for directing, and would be the first person ever bestowed acting and directing gongs for the same movie.

Elsewhere, Indigenous actor Lily Gladstone is a firm favourite for lead drama actress her role in Martin Scorsese's ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ which has seven nominations overall.

‘The Holdovers’ could have two acting winners in Paul Giamatti and Da'Vine Joy Randolph, as a curmudgeonly history teacher and cook of a 1970s prep school, respectively.

Emma Stone is the frontrunner for best comedy actress in surreal, sexy bildungsroman ‘Poor Things.’

On the television side, ‘Succession,' ‘The Bear’ and ‘Beef’ are expected to dominate the categories for drama, comedy and limited series, respectively.

Comedian Jo Koy hosts the 81st Golden Globes, which airs in the United States on CBS.