Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: The Globes Stake Their Claim

In many ways, there are not that many new things to talk about with this year's Golden Globe nominations, compared to yesterday's SAG announcement. So let me just highlight a few of the differences.

First of course is the inclusion of Selma which got all three big nominations, plus one for Original Song. The one for Ava DuVernay is particularly surprising. I think she will get her first Oscar nomination this year, but I never thought that the star hungry HFPA voters (who are looking less and less star hungry every year, which is nice) would much rather go for bigger profile directors, someone like Angelina Jolie for example (they were one of the few big groups that actually gave love to In the Land of Blood and Honey). Instead, they made bold choices across the board in that category, with the inclusions of David Fincher and Wes Anderson over more conventional choices. I would be just fine if this lineup repeated at the Oscars, although it probably won't.

Speaking of Angelina Jolie, as Selma rebounded from its SAG losses (apparently not getting screeners out in time really does make a difference, the HFPA is a smaller group so easier to get viewers) to soar right back into this whole Oscar mess, Unbroken continued to slide downhill. I thought that the HFPA would eat up this film, despite the mixed reactions. It just feels like the perfect film for Golden Globes (if it had been a musical as well, it would have been gold!). If even the HFPA is staying away from it, I really doubt Unbroken can rebound back into this thing. The guilds could prove us all wrong come early January, but as of now, Unbroken is drowning, and needs a boost, and fast.

If Selma was on the rise, and Unbroken on the way down, Gone Girl was right down the middle. It got nominations for writing, directing, and Best Actress, but missed Best Picture, even over Foxcatcher despite reports that the members didn't like the film, further proof that these reports are not always accurate. It had a good showing which keeps it in the conversation. But it will need some big time guild love (which I honestly think is possible) to break in past some more palatable contenders. Although between you and me, Gone Girl looks like it is in a better position right now than Unbroken.

A few more thoughts on the nominations. The Best Actor race, so broad and so tough has quickly narrowed to six contenders. The five SAG nominees and David Oyelowo. The only other two I think that really have a shot at this point are Ralph Fiennes (Grand Budapest Hotel is making a huge comeback) and Timothy Spall (could be the BAFTA replacement of Oyelowo and Gyllenhaal). Still a tough race, but a little clearer now. Best Actress has seen several potential contenders fall. If neither SAG nor the HFPA are going for Hilary Swank in The Homesman (and the film having almost no buzz), I say she is going to need a miracle to pull off a nomination at this point. Despite a solid campaign Shailene Woodley could not overcome the YA/Teen trappings of The Fault in Our Stars, and indie/outside contenders Jenny Slate and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are just going to have the be satisfied with love from smaller groups. The one that still lingers on my mind is Marion Cotillard. Not getting the love of foreign journalists means that maybe she is just a critical favorite and nothing more. But she is a former winner, and Cake probably isn't going to be released in the UK, and I think she could take that fifth slot for Two Days, One Night. Between her and Aniston, Aniston is right now ahead, and Cake is probably going to be an easier sell to voters than Two Days, One Night. But if someone is going to upset what has become the dominate five in this Best Actress race, it is Cotillard that can pull it off. Oh and don't forget about Amy Adams. She just got a Globe nod, is a perennial favorite, both of which could help her overcome middling reviews. Although I have a feeling this will be the last time we see her name in a big way all season (although looking at the rest of the nominees, I'll be damned if she couldn't actually win the Globe).

The Supporting races saw nine of the ten SAG nominations repeat. In Best Supporting Actor, Robert Duvall is the weakest, and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Tom Wilkinson surge into this race as Selma rises. But it could also be that these are the five guys that are going to ride the wave all season long. The Best Supporting Actress race was thrown for a loop with the nomination of Naomi Watts for St. Vincent. Maybe we are really underestimating her, but I have the feeling it was a fluky nomination that will see itself replaced by season's end. That could come from Laura Dern for Wild, although I am getting the feeling that Reese Witherspoon's nomination is going to be the film's prize this season. Instead, I still maintain that the Globe nominee Jessica Chastain will replace her for A Most Violent Year.

Most of my snubs this year (Gone Girl and Unbroken were mentioned above) come in the Comedy/Musical categories, which is really not a shock. These categories could be bold and inventive ones with incredible nominees that could be more fascinating than its Oscar-dominated Drama counterparts. The Best Actor in a Comedy race, with the exception of Christoph Waltz (really?? over Chris Rock, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and countless other better potentials??) is actually a great race as Phoenix, Murray, Keaton, and Fiennes are all excellent actors in great roles. But on the actress side, with the exception of Julianne Moore (and actually Helen Mirren is not a bad nomination either), this race is a huge clunker. Amy Adams in probably one of her least liked roles of her career and Quvenzhane Wallis is Annie, which looks mediocre at best, (I haven't seen Emily Blunt in Into the Woods yet, but word is she is not bad). Okay, so its only those two that really sting, but they could have gone with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate, Angeline Jolie (snubbed again for Maleficent), Rosario Dawson, or Tessa Thompson instead, and this race would be a lot different, and a hell of a lot better. And the nominations for Best Picture are actually pretty good (at least Annie didn't get in here as well), but I was really hoping for some love for Top Five. It turns out that Comedy/Musical was a tough category this year.

My brain has been so bombarded with Oscar news, I have not covered the television nods for SAG, and will not for the Globes either, at least for right now. I will look at them in depth over this weekend, because you have such an interesting juxtaposition of nominees. SAG looks like it is about three years behind, and the Globes somehow manage to be so fresh and exciting on the television side (why can't they be this way with the Comedy/Musical category?!). This is an interesting topic that deserves my full attention, and I promise it will come soon. As always, we'll just have to wait and see...

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