With the Oscar nominations and Critics Choice Awards announced on Thursday, it was up to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) earlier this evening to try to get in one final round of awards before the two-week wait until the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the even longer wait until Oscar night. Normally, I don’t take the Golden Globes very seriously, mainly because they’re a very different group from either the critics or the people in the industry honoring their own. These are foreign entertainment journalists working in Los Angeles and let’s just say that they’ve earned a rep for being easy to buy.
The most important thing to remember is that the HFPA has separate categories for Drama and Comedy/Musical, which makes it far more difficult when honing down the acting categories to possible winners at the Oscars. It also doesn’t help that only 15 of the 30 actors nominated in the various acting categories at the Golden Globes have also received Oscar nominations, since there are ten less slots.
In the past, the HFPA has gone with movies as their Best Picture that don’t necessarily end up winning Oscars in that category. You’d have to go all the way back to 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire to find a year when the Golden Globes’ pick in the drama category and Oscar’s Best Picture were one and the same. Before that? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King five years earlier. In fact, some might even consider winning a Golden Globe in the Best Picture category to be bad luck or some kind of jinx in terms of an Oscar win going by their track record. Okay, maybe I’m going a bit far there since last year’s Oscar Best Picture winner was The Artist, which won the Golden Globe in the Comedy/Musical category, the only movie since 2002’s Chicago to take home that pair.
So where does that leave last night’s Drama winner Argo (Warner Bros.), which won the Critics Choice award a few nights earlier? It was going up against four other films in the Drama category that received Oscar nominations with only two of them that had corresponding directing nominations. This win came after the big surprise of the night as Ben Affleck won Best Director for the movie, his second win of the week and second since being snubbed for an Oscar nomination in the directing category. Argo really didn’t feel like a Golden Globe-type movie, but clearly audiences have taken to the movie and that’s also true with the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press. Or maybe they just had easier access to Affleck during the nomination process? Who knows, but having Affleck win two precursors and potentially winning the DGA as well leaves us with an Oscar category in which the director who wins on Oscar night may be doing so without any previous win. Except maybe the DGA. We have to keep in mind that it’s been a long time since a movie won Best Picture at the Oscars without having its director at least nominated.
Going by the last few years, Argo‘s win at the Golden Globes may pretty much end its awards run as now we get to the industry guilds and the Academy itself who rarely go with the same selection. What’s really going to be telling is the next few awards, starting with the Producers Guild’s award on January 26, the SAG Ensemble on January 27 and the DGA shortly after. One of those three groups could also pick Argo or something else entirely. Basically, there are too many good movies in the running this year, so we shouldn’t be too surprised if we start seeing more support for some of the other movies in the running.
There were only two movies in the Comedy/Musical category that received Best Picture nominations, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and the musical Les Misérables. These two were considered the strongest contenders to win the category depending on which way the HFPA members went with, neither having a corresponding directing nomination to give us a hint. When it comes down to it, the HFPA love their musicals–one of the reasons why they have this category–so it seemed that Les Misérables would be an easy choice for them.
What’s interesting is that all three of the movies mentioned above are up for the SAG Ensemble award along with Spielberg’s Lincoln (DreamWorks), another potential frontrunner, and whichever one wins that night may make it far more obvious which way the Academy may go when selecting their best picture.
As far as the acting categories, Jennifer Lawrence won in the Comedy/Musical category for Silver Linings Playbook, which kept her away from her strongest competition in the Oscar actress category, Jessica Chastain, who in turn won in the Drama category for Zero Dark Thirty. Like Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway winning in their respective categories, Lawrence and Chastain were the least surprising wins of the Golden Globes, although it now makes it a full-on heads up horse race for which one will win on Oscar night. At least Hugh Jackman had some competition worth considering in the Musical/Comedy category with all the recent support for Bradley Cooper in Russell’s comedy, but Jackman’s win further proved the HFPA’s love for musicals as Les Misérables won a few moments later.
Incidentally, this is the first time since 2005 that the Critics Choice and Golden Globes for Supporting Actor went to two different performances despite being one of the most consistent categories over the years. In 2005, the Critics Choice went to Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man. He went on to receive the Screen Actors Guild’s honor in the category, while the Golden Globe went to George Clooney for Syriana for which he won the Oscar. In 2006, Eddie Murphy won all three precursors, but then lost the Oscar to Alan Arkin. Philip Seymour Hoffman winning over the critics and German actor winning the Golden Globe (from a group including many foreigners) opens things up for the Screen Actors Guild to go elsewhere since Waltz wasn’t nominated by them and that could determine who wins on Oscar night, which could very well be a third actor altogether. Either way, it’s great to have a category where there may be some surprises.
As far as the screenplay category, it’s not one I’d normally take seriously when it comes to the Golden Globes, but they followed the very different Broadcast Film Critics Association by giving the award to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained two days earlier, so we have to start taking it seriously. Most people assumed that Mark Boal’s screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty had this in the bag on Oscar night, but there’s a chance the controversy the movie has stirred up–not to mention Mark Boal’s recent Oscar win over Tarantino, in fact–could shift the advantage to Tarantino to win his first Oscar since Pulp Fiction.
Lastly, Animated Feature went to DisneyPixar’s Brave as opposed to Disney’s own Wreck-It Ralph, which won the Critics Choice award, and the fact there isn’t one movie even those two groups agreed upon means that the Oscar is still anyone’s game.
Things may be a bit slow in terms of Oscar updates over the next few weeks though I do have a couple of ideas I’ll try to share while everyone else is at Sundance.