This morning was an exciting one for the entertainment world, as the 2021 Golden Globe Nominations were officially announced. Awards Season has kicked off in the process, with presenters Sarah Jessica Parker and Taraji P. Henson breaking the news. While I was excited about seeing certain names on the list, I was shocked by James Corden scoring a Best Actor in a Comedy nom for his performance in The Prom. There's been a ton of negative chatter about Corden's characterization, and his nomination feels like it is part of a larger Hollywood problem.
Some backstory: The Prom hit Netflix back in December, with Ryan Murphy adapting the Broadway musical of the same name for film. Murphy assembled a killer cast to bring the story to life, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kerry Washington. Actor and late night host James Corden also starred in the leading role of Barry Glickman. In this case, in order to play a gay man, Corden put on a lisp and swished his way around the set. It's a characterization that many LGBTQIA+ folks found a bit offensive (myself included), so it was doubly shocking to see him honored with a Golden Globe nomination.
On the one hand, I certainly understand why Ryan Murphy cast James Corden in The Prom. He's an accomplished singer/actor who has also stolen the hearts of America thanks to The Late Late Show With James Corden. But seeing Corden "play gay" with such over-the-top characteristics made for an uncomfortable viewing experience-- especially for a movie centered around queer characters and the call for acceptance.
Historically a number of straight identifying actors have received acclaim for playing gay roles. Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for Philadelphia, while Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger's careers were given a massive boom from Brokeback Mountain. But in the past few years there's been an ongoing conversation about the importance of representation and inclusion. In this case, seeing James Corden put on a fake lisp and attempt to be more feminine when playing a gay men felt like it lacked the nuance of other perfomances. It felt icky. And those icky feelings are somewhat exacerbated by Corden's performance being given one of the biggest honors in the film industry. It looks like Hollywood still has much more to learn.
I've got to admit that part of my feelings about James Corden in The Prom come from being a queer person myself. But when scrolling through social media, there were a number of moviegoers who were shocked by the actor's Golden Globe nom. LGBTQIA+ filmmaker Jake Wilson took to Twitter to share his disbelief, saying:
It be like that sometimes. Of course, plenty of other folks took to social media to share their disbelief about James Corden's Golden Globe nomination. After all, if any cast from The Prom member seemed like a shoe-in for a nom it was Meryl Streep. Corden being honored in this way was a shocker for many, and some users on Twitter took the time to flesh out their thoughts on the situation. Check it out below.
This is a conversation that will likely continue for the foreseeable future, as the entertainment industry continues to make strides in regards to inclusion and representation. It was just a few years ago when movement like #OscarsSoWhite highlighted the lack of ethnic diversity in major acting nominations. While the 2021 Golden Globe Nominations certainly honored more people of color, James Corden's nomination for The Prom seemingly highlights the work that still needs to be done.
We'll just have to wait and see if James Corden manages to take home a Golden Globe Award for his performance in The Prom. The Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy category is pretty stacked, so he's got major competition. He'll be competing against Sasha Baron Cohen, Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as Andy Samberg and Riz Ahmed. Considering that there's another musical in the mix (which included live vocals), the pressure is on.
The Prom is currently available on Netflix. Be sure to check out our 2021 release list to plan your next movie experience.