Globe cheers, jeers and predictions

Posted by · 6:56 pm · December 11th, 2008

As ever, this morning’s Golden Globe announcement provided a mixed bag of talking points, with some pleasantly zany curveballs at one end of the scale, and a couple of yawnsome autopilot nominees at the other. Like most awards bodies, they’re never going to get it completely right: for every inspired inclusion or omission there’s an equally perplexing one. (Ralph Fiennes for “The Duchess,” anyone?)

But looking at the nominees from a bargaining perspective — tempering, for example, my disappointment that Richard Jenkins didn’t make the Best Actor cut with the knowledge that Clint Eastwood didn’t either — I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m happier with them than I expected to be.

With that in mind, I offer below a couple of my own personal highlights and low points of the nominee list (though, given that I haven’t seen “Milk” yet, I’m leaving off that heated topic), followed by some way-too-early, subject-to-change predictions. Feel free to supply your own.


Comedy rules: The comedy/musical categories are usually a dumping ground for filler nominees in less-than-memorable mainstream products, and previously expressed fear that this year, given the lack of high-profile contenders, they could make some really desperate stretches this year. Happily, the HFPA showed genuine resourcefulness by dipping into indie waters to celebrate the oddball wonders of “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “In Bruges,” while singling out the superb, less-discussed likes of Rebecca Hall and Brendan Gleeson for recognition. With classy, intimate works like “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Last Chance Harvey” joining the mix, the resulting set of nominees is, dare I say it, considerably fresher than their dramatic counterparts. How often can you say that?

Marching to their own drum: Sure, they can be easily bought on occasion (“The Reader”‘s impressive haul, in the face of increasingly withering reviews, is testament enough to that). But I like the fact that every year, the Foreign Press also pull out a couple of nominees that nobody else could have dreamed up. Whether you like the decision or not, you have to admit it takes chutzpah to nominate Tom Cruise for “Tropic Thunder.” No one was talking about him, no one was campaigning for him … this was a decision they made entirely on their own. The nod for Ralph Fiennes was similar unobligated, unpressured and unanticipated — and while that’s a choice I really disagree with, I salute their inclination to drift from the herd on occasion.

Coming to the rescue: If I were to single out one name whose nomination today made me more relieved than any other, it would have to be Kristin Scott Thomas. After a disappointing start to the American awards season, which saw her mesmerizing work in “I’ve Loved You So Long” disgracefully snubbed by the BFCA while failing to pick up traction in the critics’ awards, it was vital that she made the cut here. And make it she did, beating to the punch such hotly fancied contenders as Cate Blanchett, no less. She still she faces considerable obstacles on the road to an Oscar nomination — in addition to starring in a small, French-language film, her current Broadway engagement restricts her personal campaigning abilities — so kudos to the Globes for prioritizing performance over publicity in this instance. Take note SAG.


Playing it safe: As they took some bold risks in the comedy categories, it seems the trade-off was a largely vanilla selection in the drama categories. Tasteful prestige dramas rule the roost here, and while there are no doubt some fine films in contention, I can’t help wishing the HFPA had rocked the boat a little here. I’m hardly the biggest champion of “The Dark Knight” in these parts, but it (or, in a perfect world, “The Wrestler”) would have made a considerably edgier, more relevant nominee than “The Reader” or “Frost/Nixon.” Meanwhile, the perfect match-up between the Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director nominees betray a conservative (or just plain lazy) streak in the voting. Comedies are hard to direct too, as is any other genre — would it be so bad to shake things up with Mike Leigh or Christopher Nolan? Dig deeper, Foreign Press.

Original is out: The unadventurous trend continued through to the Best Screenplay category, one than often presents problems in its merging of original and adapted work, but this year found a particularly egregious solution: to simply ignore original screenplays entirely, with adaptations occupying all five slots. I’m not sure if this is a first (though if some diligent researcher feels like doing the legwork, do let us know), but if so, it’s not a particularly commendable one. Granted, it hasn’t been a vintage year in the original field, but I can’t be the only one who feels there is more writerly verve and innovation in the likes of “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” than there is in Peter Morgan’s or John Patrick Shanley’s slavishly faithful translations of their own respective plays.

Seeing stars: A perennial problem with this particular ceremony, the rampant starfucking was thankfully tamed in some areas (Sarah Jessica Parker was mercifully passed over, while my heavy-hearted wildcard bet on Beyonce Knowles didn’t pan out either), but it was in transparent evidence elsewhere. You’d be hard pressed to find a critic who finds Angelina Jolie’s performance in “Changeling” more noteworthy than Melissa Leo’s breakout turn in “Frozen River,” but the sad truth is that Leo never stood a chance against the younger, hotter, infinitely more famous woman. Same story with Jolie’s other half, one of the more glamorous attractions blocking the superb Richard Jenkins’ way in the Best Actor (Drama) category. Meanwhile, the perversity of leaving out Michael Shannon, the most consistently praised element in multiple nominee “Revolutionary Road,” is easily explained when you look at the big guys taking up the Supporting Actor slots. The HFPA is no country for character actors.

And with that, I offer my off-the-cuff predictions, with the disclaimer that I truly don’t know what to make of some races at the moment. In a month’s time, things might have come into focus a bit… we’ll regroup on the subject then.

MY PREDICTIONS (subject to revision at a later date)

Best Picture (Drama): “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Picture (Comedy/Musical): “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Best Actor (Drama): Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Best Actress (Drama): Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”
Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Best Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Foreign Language Film: “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Best Animated Film: “WALL-E”
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Original Song: “The Wrestler” from “The Wrestler”

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20 responses so far

  • 1 12-11-2008 at 7:31 pm

    Mr. F said...

    I feel that “In Bruges” has a really strong chance at winning. The fact that they nominated despite it coming out in early March shows that they know they’ve got something special in their hands. Same for Comedy actor; I’m rooting for Brendan Gleeson

  • 2 12-11-2008 at 7:31 pm

    Zach Baum said...

    In Bruge I decree will be best comedy.

    the film we have fought for will make its rise to power as people realize its importance in bringing the concept of Black Comedy.

    Please be true

  • 3 12-11-2008 at 7:54 pm

    Speaking English said...

    You mention the surprising greatness of the Best Comedy/Musical category, yet you fail to mention its best and most under-appreciated nominee: “Burn After Reading.” I feel “Happy-Go-Lucky” will probably win this category, but for me no comedy this year came close to equaling the wit, bite, and laugh ratio of “Burn.”

    And not a vintage year for original screenplays? I strongly disagree, with an impossible-to-narrow-down-to-five selection of “Milk,” “Burn After Reading,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “Synecdoche, New York,” “Happy-Go-Lucky,” and “WALL-E.” Then there’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” as well.

    And the snub for “Milk” is absolutely inexcusable. Good thing it’s already a sure thing for the Oscars.

  • 4 12-11-2008 at 8:25 pm

    Billyboy said...

    1.In the Best Actor-Comedy category I think anyone could take it… even Franco. Bardem won last year, so they might pass. Hoffman already has five Globes and a Cecil B., plus his movie is not very well known, so they might pass too. Colin has a good chance…

    2.They might choose “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” for Best Comedy because (a) it’s the most nominated comedy, (b) it’s foreign talent/location and (c) Harvey Weinstein is behind it. Not to mention its a movie from a legendary filmmaker they might want to reward…

    3. Sally Hawkins looks like the only lock at the moment. Maybe Cruz too, although if Winslet doesn’t win Best Actress-Drama then she might take the Supporting.

  • 5 12-12-2008 at 2:54 am

    Faceit said...

    Why are some people so biased against Jolie. The women gave a fantastic performance last year, was snubed, this year nobody was predicting her, saying she was dead and so on and so on. The women did her best in Changeling, a magnificent performance who is being raved and raved by the European critics. When you deslike the legitimy options of a group of people who wants to give an award, who you are going to backlash? Jolie. Because she is hot, beautifull etc etc. I guess she needs to put s**** on her face. And yes there are many critics that consider Jolies`s performance better then Leo. The S.L critics. So if you are not happy with them, backlash them, and stop being a Jolie hater.

  • 6 12-12-2008 at 3:54 am

    P R said...

    I agree with Faceit.

    Jolie must be nominated!!

  • 7 12-12-2008 at 4:35 am

    BurmaShave said...

    I’m glad someone remembered how great Bardem was in VICKI, I only wish he’d campaigned in Supporting where I feel he might have a chance at a repeat Oscar nod.

  • 8 12-12-2008 at 5:19 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Sigh… and so the Jolie Patrol emerges again.

    The fact that I didn’t particularly like her performance in “Changeling” (which has several defenders on this site, by the way) doesn’t make me a “hater” — which, by the way, is becoming the most rampantly overused word on the Oscarweb. I think she’s done better work previously in her career.

    I’m sorry, but I think Leo’s performance is in a completely different league, as do a number of critics. You’re welcome to disagree, but try not to take things so personally.

  • 9 12-12-2008 at 5:51 am

    Faceit said...

    What does her beauty to do with her talent. The BFCA also nominated her. And last year the SAG, and the Chicago Critics. Your remarks about her beauty in that context were, sorry, pathetic. at least.

  • 10 12-12-2008 at 5:59 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Her beauty has nothing to do with her talent — you’re entirely missing my point. I referred to her image in explaining why I think she has an advantage with the voters, not why I think the performance falls short. (Which is a whole new topic that I’m not going to get into.)

    But if you think the HFPA voters don’t at least consider the glamour quotient of the nominees when thinking ahead to their telecast, you’re naive.

    I promise that’s the last I’m saying on the matter in this thread.

  • 11 12-12-2008 at 9:18 am

    henry said...

    – I think the best actress drama’globe is going to anne hathaway, even when I didn’t like her.

    – Brendan Gleeson has some chances to get the best actor in a comedy…

    – Robert Downey Jr. is going to take the globe over Heath…. ;)

  • 12 12-12-2008 at 9:22 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, part of me thinks Hathaway is the one to watch too. (I hope not, though.) But I’m going with Winslet for now as I think the HFPA might be reluctant to let her go 0-for-7.

  • 13 12-12-2008 at 10:19 am

    Eunice said...

    All I know is that it’s definitely Desplat for the Original Score and I’m rooting for Streep on both acting noms. And I’d want to be surprised in the Drama categories, since it’s gonna be more fun to watch the Comedy/Musical category this year.

    I don’t think that the HFPA would let KW go off without winning one this year. If she does win, though, then I think that kills Hathaway’s Oscar hopes for good, especially Sally Hawkins also gets a Globe on that night. I’d easily replace Hathaway with her, given the love that she’s been getting all season.

  • 14 12-12-2008 at 3:42 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    My predictions:

    Picture: The Curious Case of B. B. Alt: Slumdog Millionaire
    Actor: Sean Penn. Alt: Between Pitt and Rourke
    Actress: Anne Hathaway. Alt: Kate Winslet (i believe she’ll win in supporting)
    Picture: Happy-Go-Lucky. Alt: In Bruges or even mamma Mia!
    Actor: James Franco (Maybe he’ll win because I’m sorry becuase we didn’t nominate you in supporting). Alt: One of In Bruges’s guys.
    Actress: Sally hawkins. Alt: Meryl Streep
    Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger. Alt: Maybe Robert Downey Jr. (But I think this is Ledger’s to lose).
    Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet. Alt: Penelope Cruz.
    Directing: David Fincher. Alt: Danny Boyle.
    Screenplay: Revolutionary Road. Alt: The Curious Case of B. B.
    Original Score: The Curious Case of B. B. Alt: Slumdog Millionaire
    Original Song: Wall-E. Alt: Bolt-Only if Myles Cirus is out! >.<
    Foreign Picture: Gomorrah. Alt: Baader-Meinhoff
    Animated Picture: Wall-E. Alt: Kung Fu Panda

  • 15 12-12-2008 at 4:07 pm

    Michael Dance said...

    Hey, I was thrilled to see Ralph Fiennes up there for The Duchess. His performance hit me as the strongest thing in that movie and stuck with me for a few days afterward. It would seem impossible to outwardly portray a cripplingly antisocial person, but he does it.

  • 16 12-12-2008 at 4:32 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Sorry I said Revolutionary Road for screenplay, I think Slumdog Millionaire will win it

  • 17 12-12-2008 at 5:41 pm

    kate said...

    Benjamin Button

    Happy Go Lucky

    Danny Boyle

    Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

    Meryl Streep, Doubt

    Dustin Hoffman Last Chance Harvey

    Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

    Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

    Kate Winslet, The Reader

    Gomorrah (Italy)


    Slumdog Millionaire

    Benjamin Button

    The Wrestler, The Wrestler

  • 18 12-12-2008 at 6:28 pm

    M.Harris said...

    I thought Jolie’s performance in “Changeling” is Oscar worthy and this is from a guy who had his doubts about her in this particular role.She shows vulnerability and strength at the same time.At first I thought that her persona might be a little to strong for the role but seeing her on screen proved me wrong.I’m willing to bet that she will be nominated(just my opinion to each there own).

  • 19 12-13-2008 at 7:12 am

    Ross said...

    I can’t believe people already consider Kate Winslet for the Golden Globe. She wasn’t even a BFCA nominee or a critics’ darling and she can be the one snubbed by the SAG. If she is, do you expect HFPA voters to go for her?