How were the 2021 Golden Globes winners decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the 2021 Golden Globes into a virtual ceremony hosted by Tina Fey in New York and Amy Poehler in Hollywood. This marked the 78th anniversary of a ceremony put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But just who are these journalists, why did NBC hand over three hours of prime-time to them, and how were the winners decided?

The HFPA was founded in 1944 and initially honored film folk with a low-key luncheon held at a studio. This evolved over the years into the highly hyped kudos that kick off the awards season that ends with the Oscars. The members of the HFPA are acutely aware of their pride of place as a precursor to the Academy Awards.

While there are 9,632 voting members of the motion picture academy who can cast ballots for the Oscars, there are just 87 journalists in the HFPA who vote for the Golden Globes. Rather than use the complicated counting methods employed by the motion picture academy to determine nominations and winners in two dozen races, the Globes stick to the first past the post method. The nominees were the top five vote-getters in each category while the winners were chosen in a second round of balloting with the awards going to those contenders who garnered the most tick marks.

The HFPA is open to expanding but is selective in its membership and admits a maximum of five new members in a year. To even apply, you must be based in Southern California, be an accredited correspondent for a foreign publication in which you have published at least four articles in the year preceding, and pay a $500 initiation fee.

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