Why is May December nominated as a Comedy by the Golden Globes?

May December, L to R: Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Berry with Julianne Moore as Gracie Atherton-Yoo. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix
May December, L to R: Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Berry with Julianne Moore as Gracie Atherton-Yoo. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix /

May December has earned itself a bevy of Golden Globes nominations. But many may be confused as to why it’s being listed under the comedy categories. Why have the Globes made this odd choice?

The Golden Globes may have lost a bit of luster over the years due to controversies, but are still seen as a major precursor for the awards season. A nomination here can aid the chances of someone earning a nod for an Academy Award, and some folks can use a Globes acceptance speech to build up goodwill.

Among the movies vying for a win this year is May December, which premiered on Netflix and had a limited theatrical run. The drama stars Julianne Moore as a woman who, twenty years earlier, went to jail for an affair with a teenager (Charles Melton). She had his child and, after being released, married him.

Natalie Portman plays an actress who will star as Moore in a movie and heads to her town to research her firsthand. As she gets closer to her subject, the lines start to blur on how deep she’s getting into character.

The movie (directed by Todd Haynes) has earned wide acclaim, especially for the three lead performances. The Globes agreed with nominations for Best Picture, Portman for Best Actress, Melton for Best Supporting Actor and Moore for Best Supporting Actress.

However, while the Supporting Actor/Actress awards mix both genres, the Best Picutre and Actress nominations are in the Comedy or Musical category, not Drama. Why have the Globes done this?

The reasons why May December is listed as Comedy

The Golden Globes do have a history of strange decisions in what constitutes a “comedy.” One of the biggest cases would be in 2016 when they awarded The Martian, which was clearly a sci-fi drama. It’s happened a few other times, yet classifying May December as a comedy is a stretch.

The film is openly described on various sites as a drama, and while there can be a bit of a campy aspect at times, the drama is on full display. Even classifying it as a “black comedy” can be a stretch.

As it turns out, it was Netflix who submitted the movie to the Globes as a comedy. This appears driven by Haynes himself telling Tudum that the film “walks a tightrope” between comedy and drama.

“[Humor] was evident in Samy Burch’s script, but I don’t think you can fully imagine how it plays out until actors of this caliber are navigating it,”

It may be that Netflix thought the movie would get more attention in the comedy category than a packed Drama category that includes Killers of the Flower Moon, Oppenheimer, Maestro and Past Lives. As it is, May December has to compete with Barbie and The Holdovers, putting its chances a bit low.

So despite how May December is in so many ways a drama, it was Netflix and Haynes themselves who wanted the film placed in the comedy category, but here’s hoping that doesn’t hurt the movie’s Oscar chances.

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May December is now streaming on Netflix.