Awards Party Insanity: Golden Globe Preview 2016

E: From the perspective of an Oscar-watcher, the Hollywood Foreign Press’s annual Golden Globe awards give you two fun things: an entertaining broadcast bursting with gorgeous, well dressed tipsy celebs, and also, a lot of information.  And in a year as unsettled as this one, we can sure use both the fun and the data.  So here’s your reminder to turn on the TV and tune in to NBC, and also a few words about what you might possibly see when you get there.

First of all, Ricky Gervais hosts again this year, so settle in for an evening which at least make Gervais himself laugh quite a bit.  I’m not a fan of his smarmy, self-satisfied style, but then again, anyone appearing after Tina Fay and Amy Poehler would probably have disappointed me. My biggest hope from the British comic is that he doesn’t pontificate too much, as he tends to do when he presents an award.  Since the Globes are a much shorter and zippier show than the Oscars, there’s hope.

That said, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to.  The clearest standouts so far in a very muddled best picture race (Spotlight and The Big Short)  could continue their front runner status by winning their respective categories (Drama and Musical/Comedy).  When I call them front runners, it’s not because they’ve been rewarded by all the big critics groups, but because they’re the only two movies that have been nominated by the biggest awards-giving bodies, The Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA (the British Oscars), and the Broadcast Film Critics.  Unusually, these group have nominated a large and diverse group between them, instead of a small slate of obvious candidates. The Globes favored female centered films (6 out of the ten have female leads or co-leads, a frankly astounding number even for the generally female-friendly HFP) while SAG picked an almost entirely different slate with more racially diverse casts.  BAFTA overlaps more closely with the Globes (4 of its 5 nominees), as do the Broadcast Critics (7 out of 10), but even leaving out the two broad comedies (Spy and Trainwreck) that no one else would touch, the Globes still trod their own path.  If Spotlight loses to The Revenant or Mad Max, say, or The Big Short to The Martian, it will give a clear indication that the universal inclusion of those two films only doesn’t imply universal dominance.  Even if the two front runners do as expected win their respective categories, whoever wins director (a list that includes Tom McCarthy of Spotlight and Adam McKay of The Big Short) will give us another big clue to the Best Picture puzzle.

Because the Globes have two different sets of nominees, we could get some unusual winners.  I’m particularly intrigued to see if The Martian‘s marvelous Matt Damon, say, will win best actor in a comedy over Steve Carrell and Christian Bale, nominated here and at the Broadcast Critics for lead but are more likely to be nominated by the Academy in a supporting field.  And if this year’s smash sensation Amy Schumer can overcome America’s favorite Jennifer Lawrence to win Actress in a Comedy; because her film Joy opened (and reviewed) poorly, Lawrence’s critically lauded performance might pay the price, and that could give us a clue as to the likelihood of her scoring another Oscar nomination, her fourth in the last five years.

Most pundits guess that this is Leonardo DiCaprio’s year to finally win the Oscar he was first nominated for back in 1994; with four Oscar nominations as an actor, he’s been a respected leading man for decades.  He seems a particularly strong bet at the Globes, where he’s been nominated 11 times and won twice.  Though less likely, a win for another other actor — last year’s Oscar and Globe winner Eddie Redmayne, say, or beloved television star Bryan Cranston in his first film nomination — would put a wrench in Leo’s bid for the prize that has eluded him for so long.  Lead actress in a drama is a conundrum, however; it seems most likely to fall on either first time Brie Larson (star of kidnapping drama Room) or former child actress Saoirse Ronan for her transformation in the lovely, thoughtful Brooklyn.  Of course, omnipresent 2015 It Girl Alicia Vikander is a contender for both of her nominations, in lead for her supportive wife in The Danish Girl and supporting for her soft, unsettling turn as an artificially intelligent robot in Ex Machina.  A few months ago she was being campaigned as supporting for The Danish Girl and considered a great shot for the win.  I truly cannot wait to see what happens here; the Hollywood Foreign Press love anointing the latest ingenue, and I can’t help thinking they’re going to find Vikander hard to resist.

A trio of actors has been nominated for virtually all the supporting actor awards leading up to the Oscars, so it seems fair to guess that the winner might be one of those three — Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation, Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, and Mark Rylance of Bridge of Spies.  My guess is that Rylance’s quiet, honorable spy has the edge here. On the other hand, Sylvester Stallone has real buzz for what’s essentially a leading role in Creed.  If the Hollywood Foreign Press go for his comeback, it might begin a significant wave.  The critics have been divided, so that’s another significant award to watch.

Really, a great speech, a great dress or tux and a lucky break tonight might be the making of the awards season for all of these films and actors.  It ought to be a fun night (even more so if you’re a fan of Ricky Gervais) and definitely an intriguing one.  I, for one, can’t wait!

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