'Philomena' and 'Rush' spark with Globe nominations, but no room for Oprah

Posted by · 7:02 am · December 12th, 2013

Coming into today’s Golden Globes nominations announcement, we knew a couple of things. We knew the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loved two movies that may or may not find Best Picture traction with the Academy: Stephen Frears’ “Philomena” and Ron Howard’s “Rush.” Both picked up nominations in the Best Picture – Drama category. We knew “August: Osage County” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” two films that went over like gangbusters with SAG yesterday, weren’t the group’s cup of tea. The former picked up only two nods while the latter was shut out entirely (no Oprah, even). And we knew “Saving Mr. Banks” was dinged up after landing just one nomination yesterday. It only managed that same nomination this morning.

The HFPA’s list is a respectable one across the board, really. And not overly surprising: I went 45/53 in the predictions I bothered making on a whim last night on Twitter, nailing all four lead acting races 100%. It’s not rocket science; chatter happens in this town as the Globes soothsayers have loose lips and you’re well aware of what the HFPA likes down the stretch. The only real curiosity to me is that “Monsters University” didn’t show up in the animated feature category and that “The Wolf of Wall Street” ended up well-liked enough to land a Best Picture – Comedy/Musical nomination (as I had heard they didn’t exactly love it). Oh yeah, and Oprah.

Nevertheless, none of it – but none of it – means one bit when it comes to the Academy’s choices. The Globes are one giant marketing opportunity and all the players are present. These ought to make for some spiffy ad notations and TV blurbs in the coming weeks, and the Jan. 12 ceremony will provide air time for this or that contender to put the finishing touches on a speech, but the upcoming guild announcements, as ever, will be more significant indicators of industry and Academy support. For now, this 90-ish-member group has provided a PR bump for a lot of the year’s best films.

It will be interesting to see if Universal – or, more to the point, the banks that are cutting the campaign checks – takes this as a sign to step up its Oscar campaign for “Rush” and try to find traction again. The film failed to catch at the box office and has seemed dead in the water despite the fact that a great many love and adore it.

Meanwhile, on the Weinstein side, it will be interesting to see how Harvey’s massive slate continues to take shape in the season. It’s been a roller-coaster in just these last two days, and truly, “Philomena” is a film that goes down much better for a great many voters than “August” or “The Butler.” So it could be “the one” at the end of the day. (No surprise “Fruitvale Station” came up empty-handed today, either; HFPA no likey.)

Obviously “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” get the biggest bumps, leading the way with seven nominations apiece. And producer Scott Rudin must be pleased to see eight nominations shared across his three films – “Captain Phillips,” “Frances Ha” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

(Speaking of “Davis,” worth noting: “Please Mr. Kennedy” picked up a nomination today and will likely land more from other critics and precursor groups. But I’m told it is not eligible with the Academy so don’t expect it to show up there.)

I’m most pleased for Greta Gerwig and Julie Delpy this morning. Many had conceded the comedy actress ranks to dubious stuff like “The Heat” (which I liked, but, you know). But I had a hunch the HFPA would go for these two performances, and thank God they did. They are two of the best performances of the year.

Nothing really took a major knock. You could say “Saving Mr. Banks” feels like it’s in need of a little life support now, but it’s playing perfectly well to Academy members and should be able to manage just fine. And “Dallas Buyers Club” was never going to be a player here beyond its two central performances, so yesterday’s surprising SAG ensemble nomination will remain the happy unexpected news for Focus this week.

What else can you really say other than that? Nothing is coming to mind. And the season forges on. Regional critics will continue to speak up in the coming weeks, likely building more consensus steam behind “12 Years a Slave,” and with the new year will come further guild announcements: WGA, DGA, PGA. By then, if not sooner, the picture of the 2013-2014 Oscar race will have settled, leaving everyone to wonder just what surprises, if any, the Academy will have up its collective sleeve on the morning of Jan. 16.

The 71st annual Golden Globe Awards will take place on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014.

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