The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves their stars. And that’s why there were really no surprises in their nominations for the Golden Globes this morning. There were also no major embarrassments like last year, when they nominated The Tourist for Best Picture, Actor and Actress. Damn, that was fun.
I had a conversation with a publicist last night and we predicted almost this entire list. HFPA members often share their opinions, and you know going in that even if George Clooney’s The Ides Of March has not turned up in any significant way in other awards contests so far, the HFPA was going to give it a boost. One Italian member told me last week it was the only movie this person really loved even though it is a film about American politics. Even Clooney (who between writing, directing and Best Motion Picture Drama noms for this and a best actor-drama nod for The Descendants got a personal haul of four nominations) seemed to sense he was going to score big with this when I asked him about it an interview last week. “It’s a funny thing. The Globes folks really like this a lot,” he said. “It was interesting to go to that (HFPA) press conference because internationally everyone sort of related to it on their own. In Italy, they think it’s about Berlusconi. It’s funny to see how things play in different arenas.” And it also helps to be George Clooney, who scored this exact scenario in 2005 when he was thrice nominated for writing, directing and picture on Good Night, And Good Luck and Best Supporting Actor for Syriana — winning for the latter and going on to get the same kind of Oscar recognition for those films. Whether this very specific boost for Ides Of March — well-reviewed (85% at Rotten Tomatoes) but until today awards-challenged — results in a similar scenario remains to be seen.
In recent years, the correlation between Golden Globe winners and Oscar winners has been dwindling. In fact, since 2004 the Globes Best Motion Picture-Drama has matched the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner only once — for 2008′s Slumdog Millionaire. In 2004, the Globes went with The Aviator over Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby. In 2005 Munich, Capote and eventual Oscar Best Pic choice Crash first all failed to get even the equivalent Globe nomination (Brokeback Mountain won at the Globes). In 2006, Babel won the Globe over eventual Oscar victor The Departed (although the latter’s director, Martin Scorsese, took both). In 2007, the HFPA went with Atonement over Oscar choice No Country For Old Men. In 2009, the Globes went big for Avatar only to see that as the film’s last big awards hurrah before Oscar crowned The Hurt Locker. And last year, Sony’s The Social Network achieved a Globes victory only to be run over by The King’s Speech in every subsequent contest. At the Globes after-party for the Weinstein Company, a defiant Harvey Weinstein predicted this was only the “beginning” and that his film would eventually triumph, Of course, he turned out to be right.
So movies like Warner Bros’ late breaking Christmas release Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close and Fox Searchlight’s The Tree Of Life or Focus Features’ Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which were completely dismissed in today’s HFPA announcement, can take solace in the fact that a Globe win or nomination isn’t always a necessity for Oscar success. Despite being snubbed this week by CCMA, SAG and Globes, there still could be an Oscar chance for Tinker’s Gary Oldman. Last year, Javier Bardem was ignored by all three groups and went on to a Best Actor Oscar nod for Biutiful. And it was well-known that Globe voters did not seem to “get” the very American story of Extremely Loud, the last movie Globes voters saw before filling out their ballots. (In fact, awards consultants for Warners predicted to me that they would be overlooked, and they were right).
The Tree Of Life director Terrence Malick was completely dissed for his last two films — 2005′s The New World and, more significantly, 1998′s The Thin Red Line, which got zero Globes love but went on to seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture. So there is still hope for Malick’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner despite meeting a similar fate at the Globes today. Besides, Malick doesn’t show up for these things and the Globes like their nominees to hit their thin red carpet.
This year’s lineup presents a dream carpet for the HFPA. Just look at the superstar-laden contenders for Best Actor in a Drama: Clooney for The Descendants, Brad Pitt for Moneyball, Leonardo DiCaprio for J. Edgar, Ryan Gosling for The Ides Of March and Michael Fassbender for the NC-17 sex drama Shame. It’s the kind of photo opp that makes the Globes such an attractive bet for NBC and all the salivating entertainment shows that cover it in such detail. It really doesn’t matter so much who wins (although it is a very good marketing tool), just that it is a fun party and everyone shows up. With Ricky Gervais back as host for the January 15 telecast, the real suspense is not who will win Best Picture-Drama among The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, The Ides Of March, Moneyball and War Horse. No, the real suspense (and fun of it all) is gonna be how far will Ricky go with his wicked barbs and who is going to be the most uncomfortable star in the room?
Did we mention there will be lots of stars?
Even in some of the less glamorous non-acting categories the Globes have stocked star power. Angelina Jolie’s In The Land Of Blood And Honey got a Best Foreign Language Film nod, guaranteeing her presence again this year, although it was probably certain she would attend anyway with Pitt. But should she win, it will give producers a golden opportunity to get her on the stage. The same goes for Madonna, who previously won an acting award for Evita. Although no other awards group has even mentioned her new historical drama W.E. which she co-wrote and directed, the HFPA managed to include it for best musical score as well as Madonna’s song, “Masterpiece,” which was added even after I saw the film in Toronto (she went back in and did a recut as well after less-than-admiring reviews from its Venice debut). She has to be considered a frontrunner now in a category that it also star-heavy with songs co-written by Elton John, Mary J. Blige and even Glenn Close, who managed two nods for Albert Nobbs including actress in a drama and for her end-credits tune “Lay Your Head Down.” Shut out for Best Comedy or Musical and best song (despite having gotten three CCMA nods in the same category earlier this week) was the critically loved Disney film The Muppets (at 97% fresh, it has one of the highest scores of the year at Rotten Tomatoes). Apparently, Kermit and Miss Piggy don’t have the required star power.
As usual, it was a very big morning for Harvey. The Weinstein Company garnered 12 nominations spread out over four films including a Meryl Streep nod for The Iron Lady as best actress-drama, the W.E. music nods, My Week With Marilyn grabbing lead actress in a comedy for Michelle Williams, supporting actor for Kenneth Branagh and Best Picture-Comedy or Musical. The Golden Globes were the only major awards group to actually recognize Marilyn Monroe’s considerable — and underappreciated — acting prowess by awarding her the 1959 Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Some Like It Hot. Against competition including Young Adult’s Charlize Theron, Carnage’s Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet and Bridesmaid’s Kristen Wiig, Williams is a certainty to match the star she plays and win the same award 52 years later. Take it to the bank.
The other Weinstein nominee, The Artist, leads every other movie with six key nominations including Best Picture-Comedy or Musical, actor-comedy or musical for Jean Dujardin, supporting actress for Berenice Bejo, director and screenplay for Michel Hazanavicius, and music score. This is the one movie that has yet to stumble this season, winning critics awards and scoring big across the board in this week’s CCMA, SAG and now Globes nominations. It’s the frontrunner.
Also having a very good day is Sony Classics, which managed 10 nominations for a variety of films (Sony Pictures Entertainment had a whopping total of 25 overall spread across their various labels), most notably Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, which with nominations for Best Picture-Comedy or Musical, director and screenplay and actor-comedy or musical for Owen Wilson is the film that should provide the most competition in those categories against The Artist. In fact, Woody’s 2008 comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona won the Best Pic prize from the HFPA in 2008.
Also in the comedy category this year is Bridesmaids, which can’t be discounted since the Globes went big for a similar kind of raunchy comedy, The Hangover, just a couple of years ago. A curious omission though was Melissa McCarthy, thought to be a lock for a supporting actress nod. She needs to figure out a better plan to gain HFPA love as she was also passed over for her Emmy-winning role on Mike & Molly.
Finally, it is worth noting that, as I first reported, Dreamworks had entered The Help initially as a comedy but was overruled by the HFPA committee that decides these things and put in the drama categories. In the end it didn’t matter as the 1960′s civil rights-era film scored five nominations, tying with The Descendants and coming in with the second-highest total for a film — drama or comedy.
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.