Tom Cruise and Will Smith miss out on Golden Globe nominations amid muted Hollywood reaction to show's return

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Tom Cruise attends the Royal Performance of
Tom Cruise attends the Royal Performance of Top Gun: Maverick in London, England in May. (Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

When the Golden Globes returns to television screens on Jan. 10 for its 80th ceremony, the telecast won't have Tom Cruise as a wingman. Although 2022's biggest blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick, received two nominations — Best Motion Picture, Drama and Best Original Song — the movie's star star was left out of the Best Actor lineup, where some predicted he might appear.

That omission wasn't necessarily a surprise: Last year, Cruise was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to respond to the storm of controversy that enveloped the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the divisive organization behind the Globes. In February 2021, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé that revealed, among other things, that the HFPA lacked any Black members and had a history of making ethically-questionable decisions.

Three months later, in May, Cruise returned the three Golden Globe statues he had won in years past. That decision followed NBC's announcement that the network — which was been the Globes's home for decades — wouldn't air the 2022 awards telecast until the HFPA enacted significant reforms. The organization went ahead and held the ceremony anyway, on Jan. 10, 2022, releasing the winners via a widely-mocked Twitter feed rather than on television.

Flash-forward to Sept. 2022, and NBC announced that the Globes would be returning to the airwaves in 2023, albeit on a one-year only contract. A network spokesperson credited the group for pursuing such changes as diversifying its membership and heightening its charity work. (The group also announced that the Golden Globes would become a separate private entity owned by the holding company, Eldridge Industries. Eldridge is owned by Todd Boehly, who now serves as interim CEO of the Globes. Boehly is also a business partner of Jay Penske, who owns all of Hollywood's major trade publications, including Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.)

Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit for the blockbuster sequel 'Top Gun: Maverick' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit for the blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Given Cruise's decision to return his Globes — plus the fact that he's in the midst of shooting his final Mission: Impossible adventure — it was an open question whether he would have attended the ceremony even if he had been nominated. Instead, Top Gun: Maverick. At press time, the actor hasn't acknowledged the movie's two Globe nominations on social media, although the official Paramount Pictures Twitter account congratulated both of its nominated films: Babylon and Maverick. Top Gun producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, also issued his own statement:

"Thank you so much for this honor. Top Gun: Maverick brought audiences back to theatres at a time when we needed entertainment the most. I am overjoyed to share this nomination with Paramount, Tom and the entire cast and crew who made this possible."

Cruise wasn't the only A-list actor who missed out on a Globe nomination. Will Smith hoped to be back in the awards conversation for his Apple TV+ drama, Emancipation, which opened in theaters on Dec. 2 following a carefully orchestrated roll-out. In March, Smith upended his once-sterling reputation in Hollywood when he slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars. After withdrawing from the public eye for months, the actor broke his silence in July on social media, eventually embarking on a November press tour for Emancipation through which he tried to direct attention away from himself and onto the film's creative team.

"My deepest concern is my team," Smith told Fox 5's Kevin McCarthy last month. "The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don't penalize my team." Ultimately, the HFPA declined to honor Smith or the cast and crew behind Emancipation as the film failed to receive any nominations. That suggests could face an equally difficult time attracting Oscar attention when those nominations are announced early next year.

Will Smith stars in Antoine Fuqua's latest film Emancipation, which Apple TV+ will be releasing in December. (Photo: Apple TV+/YouTube)
Will Smith stars in Antoine Fuqua's latest film, Emancipation, which didn't receive any Golden Globe nominations. (Photo: Apple TV+/YouTube)

Unlike Cruise and Smith, Brendan Fraser did receive a Globe nomination for his acclaimed performance in Darren Aronofsky's controversial drama, The Whale. But the actor has already made it clear that he has no plans to RSVP to the ceremony to collect his statue should he win. In 2018, Fraser revealed to GQ that he had allegedly been groped by former HFPA president, Philip Berk, years earlier in 2003. (Berk denied Fraser's allegations.) Speaking with the magazine again this year, The Whale star said that he wouldn't "participate" in this year's Globes if nominated.

"I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association," Fraser said, adding, "My mother didn't raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that." It's worth noting that, at press time, A24 — the studio that released The Whale — hasn't acknowledged Fraser's nomination on social media. For that matter, A24 hasn't promoted any of its nominated films, including the breakout hit, Everything Everywhere All at Once, which received six Globe nods.

Fraser's statements were briefly addressed by awards analyst, Dave Karger, on the Today show, which aired the Globes announcement live. Karger also acknowledged Cruise's decision to return his three statues after hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb expressed surprise that he wasn't nominated. Perhaps not surprisingly, the HFPA itself declined to address its past controversies during the presentation, and neither did presenters Mayan Lopez and Selenis Levya. (Levya was a last-minute replacement for George Lopez, who was supposed to present with his daughter, Mayan, but tested positive for COVID the night before.)

Brendan Fraser delivers a transformative star turn in The Whale. (Photo: Courtesy of TIFF)
Brendan Fraser delivers a transformative star turn in The Whale. (Photo: A24/Courtesy of TIFF)

So far, the muted response to the Globes nominations both within the industry and by outside observers suggests that the HFPA faces an uphill battle in terms of returning the ceremony to the prominence it once enjoyed. Many also took note of the more glaring oversights in the diversity of the nominees — most notably the fact that no female filmmakers were nominated in the Best Director category. The HFPA has a well-documented history of overlooking female directors, a track record that Natalie Portman famously called out from the stage at the 2018 ceremony.

Speaking with Variety, Jesse Collins — who is tasked with executive producing the return of the Globes to TV — acknowledged the challenges ahead. "We’re just starting to put the pieces together," he said. "Obviously, nominations just happened. That really helps us kind of write the story of what the show was going to be… Now I feel like it’s really moving."

Collins also explained why the telecast is taking a chance on a freshman host, Jerrod Carmichael — the first Black actor to emcee the Globes since Louis Gossett Jr. in 1993. "We just wanted someone that was going to bring a fresh perspective," he remarked. "We love that [Jerrod] hasn’t done it before. He’s such a brilliant storyteller. Incredibly funny. I think he’ll walk in with a fresh perspective on all of it. And that’s what’s probably the most exciting, the lens that he’s going to host through."

The 80th Golden Globes air Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. on NBC and Peacock.