As the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its year-end motion picture nominees, one major player in the hunt for awards season glory — Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical Netflix drama Roma — was absent from the group’s crop of best picture contenders when Golden Globe nominations were announced Thursday morning.
Despite not receiving a nomination alongside Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, If Beale Street Could Talk, and A Star is Born, the film’s absence was not a snub on the HFPA’s part in that category. As a contender for best foreign-language film, the project was not eligible to compete in the Globes’ top category, per HFPA rules.
According to the group’s official guidelines, “motion pictures that qualify for the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language award also qualify for awards in all other motion picture categories except Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, which are exclusively for English-language motion pictures, and Best Motion Picture – Animated.”
The HFPA automatically considers a film to be foreign-language if it contains more than 51 percent non-English dialogue, regardless of its country of production. Thus, since Roma — about a domestic worker (Yalitza Aparicio) who bonds with the family she works for amid political and social strife in 1970s Mexico City — is told almost entirely in Spanish, the film was automatically disqualified from the competition, though it was still eligible for nominations in other above-the-line categories, receiving nominations for its screenplay and direction while also appearing among the HFPA’s list of foreign film nominees.
Earlier this season, Roma was also ineligible to receive a spot on the American Film Institute’s top 10 films of 2018 list, though the U.S.-focused collective did honor the likely Best Picture Oscar contender with a special award that has gone to foreign productions that have gone on to win the Academy’s top honor in years past like The King’s Speech and The Artist.