E: Hey guys! Just a few quick words about tonight’s Golden Globe awards, the show that best combines prestige, celebrity and flat out fun. I expect returning host Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to kill it once again, so there’s that to look forward to as well as the usual parade of gorgeous or terrible dresses, and heartfelt or boring speeches. And perhaps most importantly, at least from my perspective, there’s a lot we can learn about the Oscars from this telecast. Every winner immediately becomes the front runner – at least until the nominations, with their shocking snubs and surprise inclusions, come out on Thursday. Who’s got the edge? The Globes are particularly useful from an Oscar-watching perspective, because they bridge the gap between the critics awards and the upcoming guild awards. And yes, I know that the Hollywood Foreign Press are critics, but they’re also much closer to being Hollywood insiders. Up until now, we’ve seen what people who think about movies think about 2013’s crop. Tonight, we start to get a glimpse of what Hollywood want us to think about 2013’s films. Let’s discuss.
Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Daniel Bruhl, Rush; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
This exact group was nominated by SAG as well, making them frontrunners for the Oscar nominations that will be announced on Thursday. Of course, there are always the shocking omission, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if things gotten a little shaken up, but it’s still an unusually consistent field. Also consistent, Jared Leto has won almost every critics award up to this point. Most folks who stand out so far ahead of their competition go on to win the Oscar; a few (Steve Buschemi in Ghost World springs to mind) don’t. So, which side will Jared be on? Was his movie too small? Do voters care that he played a transvestite (and not funny), or that he’s not an A lister? We’ll find out tonight. If he wins here, and can produce a memorable speech, he takes a huge step toward history. I would love to hear a speech from him, actually; I have no idea what to expect. Jordan Catalano-style brevity? Who knows! If he can be witty, or charming, or deeply personal – if he can move us with a connection to his grace-filled, doomed character – it will do huge things for his career.
If overwhelming Jared isn’t our winner, the prize could go to Michael Fassbender, perhaps, or Barkhad Abdi. Daniel Bruhl is probably the longest shot of the five.
Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska
Okay, so. The Hollywood Foreign Press seem to really like Sally Hawkins, who won a Best Actress (musical or comedy) prize from them for her work in the little seen Happy Go Lucky. Most people think her slot here belongs to SAG nominee Oprah Winfrey for her role in The Butler. Either way, she’s not a real factor in the win.
This category fascinates me, actually. Unlike supporting actor, there’s less consensus on the potential slate of nominees and definitely less surety about the winner. Two main candidates who’ve taken the bulk of the critics prizes are incandescent newcomer Lupita Nyong’o and omnipresent It-Girl Jennifer Lawrence. Of course it’s possible that the HFP could go with megastar favorite Julia Roberts or wisecracking character actress June Squibb, it seems more likely they’d pick either Lupita or Lawrence. There’s little that the Globes like more than anointing an It-Girl; they’re far quicker than other awards giving bodies to spot a new star (Jennifer Garner, Angelina Jolie, Clare Danes) and lavish her with laurels. Hilarious Jennifer Lawrence will say and do anything; she’s great entertainment as well as a great actress. But in the same vein, the Globes love plucking an unknown from obscurity and proclaiming to the world at large, we saw her first. Lupita represents the unknown, but her work in the very serious, very important 12 Years a Slave sears.
Suffice it to say, I’m watching this category with even more than the usual interest. Is the Hollywood Foreign Press caught up in J. Law fever? While they’ve shown no scruples about awarding the same actors several years in a row, Oscar’s more squeamish. Do they not award Lawrence because they’d rather pick the eventual winner? Maybe. Or does awarding Lawrence boost her chances at the over all prize? Sure. I’d give the marginal edge to Lawrence. I mean, come on. We all want to listen to her make a speech, don’t we? The girl rules.
Best Actor: Musical/Comedy
Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Oscar Isaacs, Inside Llewyn Davis; Joachim Phoenix, Her
Okay, this category is nuts. All of these guys are riding hard in the hunt for an Oscar nomination, although Dern is the most likely to make the list. So does that make him the outright winner? It just might. He’s figured very high on critics end of the year lists, nominations and prizes. But Leonardo DiCaprio is a huge star, which certainly influences the HFP. They’ve also been long time supporters of Christian Bale and Joachim Phoenix for that matter. The only real surprise for me would be newcomer Oscar Isaacs.
Best Actress: Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, American Hustle: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said; Meryl Streep, August; Osage County
Of these women, Streep and Adams have the best chance at an Oscar nomination, so chances are the competition is between them. In fact, the two friends (and costars from the movie Doubt) are widely perceived to be competing for an Academy nomination. While Oscar loves to nominated Meryl (17 times since 1979, amounting to essentially every other year), he’s a little more shy about bestowing awards on her. The Hollywood Foreign Press is not so reticent: in addition to her three Oscars, Meryl’s wracked up 28 Golden Globe nods and 8 wins in Drama, Musical/Comedy and even in television. And oh my goodness can the woman give an acceptance speech; she so smart and down to earth, so likable and so funny. Rather to my surprise, however, 5 time nominee Amy Adams has never won a Golden Globe, and her movie’s getting a lot more traction. So perhaps she has the edge? And if she does, will that be an indication that she’s going to secure an Oscar nod over Meryl? I can’t wait to see.
Best Actor: Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Idris Elba, Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club: Robert Redford, All is Lost
What an interesting group this is! Of the five, Elba is the cheese that stands alone: I love him, but I have to admit that all five comedy nominees have a better shot at an Oscar nom than him. I suppose for that reason I’m extra pleased to see him here. Robert Redford’s silent sailor has a much better shot at Oscar, but his presence there is by no means assured. Tom Hanks’ captain, on the other hand, is practically a lock for an Oscar nod, yet not the most likely to win here. Oh, it’s possible. He’s playing a real person, the film is thrilling and heroic, and the HFP press love him. He’s practically an institution, Tom Hanks, and this year he’s back in the awards race with a vengeance.
Matthew McConaughey is having what he jokingly calls a mcconnaisance – after a decade of wasting himself on God-awful romantic comedies, he’s capitalizing on the promise of his early career. If you read here often or know me, you know that I love romantic comedies, even if they’re rarely recognized by the awards community; no, the problem with those roles has been that they were bad. Really, really bad. That’s not his problem now, though! As the bigoted cowboy who becomes the Oskar Schindler of the Texas AIDS community, McConaughey shines as never before. He plays a real person, he has a disability, and he loses huge amounts of weight, and he’s hugely affecting. So that’s all to the good.
Of course, if (despite lauded turns in Mud and Magic Mike) the Hollywood Foreign Press is still not ready to take this southern boy seriously, we have Brit Ejiofor Chiwetel in 12 Years a Slave, playing a real New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery. If you’re looking for high emotional impact, as well as historical importance, he’s got it. If you look at the critics prizes, the largest percentage of them go to him. As I’ve said, this is no guarantee (especially when there’s not a critical consensus) but especially with Dern out of the picture, my guess is he has the edge.
Best Actress: Drama
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks; Kate Winslet, Labor Day
The critics are completely united on this topic: it’s Cate Blanchett for them. Dench, Bullock and Thompson seem locked for Oscar nominations; most people expect Winslet’s slot will go to Meryl Streep or Amy Adams. (I think there are still a few significant wild cards out that, but you’ll have to come back on Wednesday for my nomination preview post to find out who.)
If there’s to be a spoiler, it’s very clearly Bullock. She’s a huge star and blew critics and audiences alike away. And this happens – think universally lauded Laura Linney in indie sleeper You Can Count on Me losing out to Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich. If it’s going to happen this year, we’ll see the switch tonight.
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; David O. Russell, American Hustle
Oh, good lord. This is a toughy. None of them are “celebrity” directors like Scorsese or Spielberg, though neither are they unknowns – instead it’s five solid, well-respected men, none of whom have won here before. (To be precise, Alexander Payne has two Oscars and two Golden Globes, both for screenplays.) For Cuaron, Greengrass and McQueen, this year marks their first nomination as directors. Nebraska isn’t a major factor in the comedy race, but because he’s been nominated previously for The Descendants, Sideways and About Schmidt, the HFP might decide that Payne is overdue. David O. Russell’s been a strong presence on the awards scene for the last few years and it’s possible it could be his time; American Hustle has a lot of momentum just now.
Still, director most often goes to the movie that wins best picture, and that makes it a fight between Russell, Cuaron and McQueen.
Best Picture: Musical or Comedy
American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street
Though you can never really count out a Marty Scorsese movie or a Coen brother flick, the frontrunner here has to be David O. Russell’s American Hustle. The clever heist flick about big-hearted conmen, corrupt politicians and unstable G men seems to be having a moment. And despite the attrocious fashions, the movie’s less controversial than Wall Street or Her, and much higher profile than Nebraska and the sadly fading Davis.
Best Picture: Drama
12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush
Though no doubt all of these films are terrific, Rush and Philomena don’t have nearly enough buzz. The former flash-burned at the box office; the omission of celebrity Ron Howard from the director’s race speaks to his film’s lack of traction. It’s highly unlikely to score an Oscar nod even in a possible slate of 10. British adoption drama Philomena definitely contends for an Best Picture nomination, but it is not a contender for the win either with the Academy or the Foreign Press. High stakes drama Captain Phillips should absolutely make Oscar’s shortlist, but again is unlikely to contend for the win.
When we were discussing directors, I singled out 12 Years a Slave and Gravity‘s helmers for the potential win. (American Hustle will factor into Oscar, so we won’t get the best view here of that eventual fight.) Their work presents two very different choices. Gravity is everything the average person goes to the movie for – it’s major excitement, character and emotion all packed into one. It’s also heavily reliant on special effects; I’ve heard that about 80% of it is actually CGI effects and not live action, a really astounding feat when you think about it. On the other hand, 12 Years a Slave burns itself into your consciousness. It’s very clearly an Important Film, and it’s an old school acting tour de force about a topic left largely unaddressed in film. It’s won the bulk of the critics prizes, but it’s not a comfortable viewing experience. It’s not fun. It doesn’t have anything like the box office of Gravity, which is a genuine hit. This is the moment where we see if the film community is going to swap it out for a more easily digestible flick.
I’m not at all saying that Gravity would be an unworthy winner; I loved it. It’s very much one of my favorites of the year. I’m just very curious to see where the Hollywood Foreign Press will go. If they pick Gravity, it may signal the decline of 12 Years as a viable Oscar winner. Still, the HFP love an epic story, and they tend to be a little more in line with critics than Oscar (odd but very true) so I’d guess 12 Years a Slave as their pick, with the Oscar still up for grabs in a wild three way race.
And there it is! Of course I didn’t hit all the categories – there’s screenplay and everything on TV, including exciting chances for favorites of mine like Josh Charles. Really, there’s just so much to enjoy about the Golden Globes. I hope you do! I’ll be back tomorrow to see how I did and – far more importantly – what we’ve learned about Oscar 2014. Enjoy!