Pete Hammond

If anyone thought the Golden Globes results were going to add any clarity to the topsy-turvy atmosphere that has so far characterized this year’s Oscar race,  forget it. In a week that has offered crushing disappointment and major highs to just about every serious contender, the Globes mixed it up Sunday but cleared up no questions about who is emerging as a frontrunner in one of the tightest and most interesting Academy Award contests in years. No one can figure this one out yet, and if they say they can, ask for proof because it just simply doesn’t exist. Yet.

On the other hand, one thing on which everyone seemed to agree was that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler knocked it out of the park as hosts and the show moved along in style. One former producer of an Academy Awards show sitting in the audience told me afterwards, “if I were an Oscars producer this year I would be worried. This was a very good show”.

Voting for Globes was in before the Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday and before it was known the Acad’s directors branch had snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck while the rest of the Academy offered the film seven nominations. His directorial victory at Wednesday’s  Critics Choice Movie Awards and subsequent Best Picture win along with the same two wins at Sunday’s Golden Globes seriously suggests something is amiss. Nothing will really be known until the entertainment guilds start weighing in beginning with the Producers Guild on January 26 followed closely by SAG the next night. If both of those industry bellwethers also go big for Argo then Best Director nomination be damned, Argo could have unstoppable momentum. If they offer up the same mixed results we have gotten so far then the questions about where this race is heading will intensify making for a very suspenseful end of season. In fact many are already saying Affleck’s snub  could actually help the film down the line even leading to a DGA win for him on February 2. Certainly after the rollercoaster week he’s had, Affleck could not have been in a better mood holding one of two Globes he won tonight at the Warner Bros/ In Style After Party at the Beverly Hilton. He talked of all kinds of scenarios going forward but clearly feels his chances are looking up. “I’m not talking about me here since I am clearly out of the Oscar directing race but I think this could mean it is very good for our film as Best Picture and that’s what I am most excited about,” he told me.

Warner Bros Marketing Guru Sue Kroll was also clearly pumped  by the Globe results. “I think our film really deserves this and tonight’s Globes just confirms it,” she said indicating the studio’s support is likely to increase to levels even beyond what they have done to date.  Warners launched a major re-release Friday in anticipation of multiple Oscar nominations the day before.

The big shocker for many in the room was the relatively poor showing of Lincoln which many Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters I spoke with Saturday night felt was the one to beat. Instead it only grabbed the Best Actor – Drama stauette for star Daniel Day-Lewis but was otherwise shutout of the film’s leading 7 nominations. However Dreamworks pulled off the biggest show-stopper of all at the Globes when the director himself reportedly convinced Former President Bill Clinton to appear on the show and present the clip for Lincoln. “What better way for a clip about President Lincoln to be presented than by a President himself?” said one person close to the film. The whole idea was kept under tight raps. Dreamworks head Stacey Snider confided to me that the company was on severe lockdown in order to keep the secret from leaking out. It didn’t and that is a real credit to this Lincoln team as well as HFPA members who didn’t spill the secret even if they knew.

As for the other winners there was a bit of a surprise when Supporting Actor winner  Christoph Waltz’s name came out the envelope so soon afer he won two years ago  for Quentin Tarantino’s Ingorious Basterds but that category of veteran stars was a tossup just as it is expected to be at the Oscars.  Anne Hathaway on the other hand was expected to win for her Supporting turn in Les Miserables and she did. There were no major surprises in the Comedy/Musical races with frontrunners Hugh Jackman of Les Mis  and Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook  grabbing the gold. Silver Linings was in a fierce contest for Best Picture Musical or Comedy against Les Mis  but the latter with three awards overall leading all films was just too strong to overcome. This is the Foreign Press and their tastes likely run more strongly to something with the international flavor of  Les Mis  than the smaller American comedy /drama of Silver Linings. Same might be said of Argo with its setting against the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis  over the All-American Lincoln. Dramatic acting awards for Lincoln’s Daniel Day-Lewis was completely expected as was Jessica Chastain’s award for Zero Dark Thirty , both repeating their victories earlier in the week at the Critics Choice Movie Awards.

The Globe results cap a remarkable week in the awards season where every contender seemed to find a  reason for cheer or disappointment but no film was knocked out . This is still a wide open race and if the final results of the Golden Globes did absolutely nothing to cement a front runner , it also kept hopes high for just about every one of the top contenders which include Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables,  Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty and Foreign Language Film winner Amour which all got something Sunday night. “For those who like certain movies this evening just reinforced for them why they liked them.  And it has also emphasized why this is such a great year overall for movies, “  said Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson when I saw him at the hopping Universal after-party for the big Les Miserables victory leading all films in total wins.

The Globes can no longer be taken as a completely reliable bellwether of Oscar fortunes, and that has probably never been truer than this year but none of these winners are turning their back on it and it gives a little important momentum just when it is needed, particularly for Argo and Les Mis. But it is significant to note that neither Best Picture winner at the Globes has a corresponding Best Director nomination at the Oscars, a confounding turn of events that reminds of the year when both Sweeney Todd and Atonement took the top two Picture honors in 2007, the year the Globes was knocked off the air due to the Writers strike.  Neither went on to much at the Oscars. But still these wins for Argo and Les Miserables keep these big major studio hopefuls in the game just when they needed it most. Now it is on to to the Guild awards where this race may finally get some real clarity.

Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.

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