Monday, January 13, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: The Globes Weigh In

So my verdict on the Globes is this: it told us nothing. 12 Years a Slave surprised in Best Picture-Drama after winning nothing else. I have two theories as to how this happened. One, it probably happened because the Globes felt they had to reward it, or be left behind like they were when they picked Avatar over The Hurt Locker. That may sound like a crazy theory, but don't discount the motives of the HFPA. The other, probably more probable theory is that it was a close vote, and they wanted to spread the love around. All of these different films winning only confirmed two things we already knew: 1)this is a great year for film and one film should not dominate, and 2) It will be a tough battle to the finish line for the top three contenders, American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Gravity. Like I said, the Globes told us nothing we didn't already know.

There were a few surprises, particularly Alex Ebert in All is Lost. This could be a stealth Oscar contender. Like The Artist two years ago, the score in All is Lost does have to convey a huge part of the story. I haven't even predicted it to be nominated. But if it is, watch out. Spike Jonze's win here is particularly surprising considering that it beat the two Best Picture winners to get there. The original screenplay prize is so tough this year, but I could see Jonze emerging as the frontrunner in a way to honor him as an artist, and the film which could easily score a Best Picture nod on Thursday. And it will probably take the BFCA. The real test will be the WGA, and it didn't make it in at BAFTA, which gives some of those contenders a win under their belt without Jonze in the mix. But other than those two, there were not any particularly shocking wins (Although I did expect Gravity to prevail over 12 Years). Leonardo prevailed over Bruce Dern, but Dern is a lock for an Oscar nod. Although Dicaprio might have more support than we thought and could sneak in (ballots are already in so the Globe win won't have any impact, other than being telling of broader support than we thought). On the drama side McConaughey and Blanchett won, and they could easily repeat at SAG, and then the Oscars. The best moment of the night, for me at least, was Amy Adams. Say what you will about American Hustle, but Adams is one of the best actresses working in film today. She was fantastic in the film, and this is the first time I have been able to see her collect a major televised award. She was so happy to be up there, and I hope that she gets to the podium more in the future. The final thing I would say about the film side of things is that we must remember that the HFPA has an impact on the momentum, gives positive press to its winners, and a nice platform for people to practice their Oscar speeches. But it has no correlation into how the members of the Academy will vote. I am saying this to myself as much as anybody else because the two paragraphs above make it seem like their impact is astounding. I do think that they have added a component to the Oscar race, but next Saturday at SAG is the first real test of the strength of these films and contenders.

The HFPA gets a lot of flack, but I think that they did a pretty good job this year on the film side, spreading the love, and on the television side. To most people watching at home, Breaking Bad winning for its final season was not surprising. Even though I predicted it to do so, I had this gut feeling that House of Cards would emerge instead. Breaking Bad had never won a Golden Globe until last night. The HFPA has never been particularly fond of the show, only nominating it last year for the first time. And Cranston won too, after never winning. I think that the HFPA did not want that black mark on their record (the same theory I had for the Emmys last year), of never having given anything to what will go down as one of the greatest shows on all time. On the comedy side, there was a surprise winner in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I think the show will be too quirky for Emmy voters, although I hope I am wrong. But this was a nice reward for one of the best new comedies on television this year. And Andy Samberg may just be playing himself, but he does it with style, so his win was nice as well. For me though, it was so nice to see four women, all of whom extremely talented, once again pull an Amy Adams and win their first major televised award. Jacqueline Bisset's speech may have been a little nuts, but she was so overwhelmed. After decades in the business, and tons of Globe nods, she finally won one, and hell after fifty years, she deserves to be a little awestruck. Robin Wright was not expected to prevail, and although I hate to keep seeing Kerry Washington get overlooked, it was nice to see such a talented actress win a big award. Elisabeth Moss is still on the early side of what is sure to be a long career, but once again, she had never really be honored before. But the one that did it for me was Amy Poehler. I was so excited to see her win, and she quickly dropped her hosting act (by the way can we have Amy and Tina host everything?) and was genuinely surprised and happy to finally win something after working so hard and have so many successes over the past decade plus in television. I hope the Television Academy takes notice and does the same thing come September.

The Oscars announce their nominees Thursday, and tonight I will do my final predictions for Best Actor and Actress, and then BFCA that night, and SAG on Saturday. Get ready, the real games are about to begin.

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