[15 December 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Irrelevancy arrives in many forms. For members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, it comes in cloud of unfettered glitz and pointless espionage glamour. Say what you will about this forever pointless journalistic community, but they can sure shoot themselves in the significance shoe when they want to. With past atrocities like Pia Zadora/Best New Performer a generation or two behind us, the Oscar wannabes continue to dream up ways to contravene their already questionable worth. For many, winning a Golden Globe is still important. It represents the embrace of the international community, a fiscal necessity outside the insular walls of Tinseltown. But looking over the choices made for 2011, once has to wonder if the organization has simply lost their mind.
It’s not merely a question of being out of step. No, for the longest time, the members of this elusive clique have danced to the din of their own particularly perplexed drummer, and the beat has been off kilter and confusing most of the time. They rarely, if ever, predict Academy glory, and can often be seen as catering to a community that rewards its ‘own’ ala the original cabal-like Oscars of the ‘30s. So the consistent crappiness of their Winter celebration is not without precedent. How they’ve managed to stay viable in a world wising up to their worthlessness is a subject for another investigative day. For now, it’s time to fret over and fume at the potential winners come this16 January. Maybe this battle for import is the reason why we care. It certainly can’t be for choices like:
Best Picture - Drama
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
While there are no major surprises here - with perhaps the possible exception of a complete lack of True Grit - the most interesting aspect of the Best Picture race rests within the battle brewing between critic’s groups and so-called informed film pundits. For weeks, many have stated that The Social Network has little chance at Oscar gold. Yet many Year-End list and voting collectives have it right near, or at, the top. If you believe the writers, it’s an all Facebook finish. But there are more than a few insiders who think differently, so the Globes may be an important bellwether.
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids are Alright
Hello Golden Globes - let’s introduce you to widespread and embarrassed scrutiny one more time. It’s a shame when the most worthy movie on this list is a commercial stunt from several months ago. Tim Burton’s reimagined Alice might win voters over, but what on Earth was this group thinking when they lauded the undeniably lame Burlesque and absolutely horrid Tourist for Best-of consideration? It makes no sense, and when you consider the films overlooked, it argues for some manner of conspiracy. Really? Burlesque???
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter
In this category, Wahlberg is the outsider looking in - and not particularly enjoying the view. Firth is the presumptive favorite, his performance the kind of terrific tour de force that wins over the old guard’s grumpy heart. The rest will have to be happy for the nomination alone.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman, The Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
This is more or less a two woman race - Kidman vs. Portman. Few have seen Berry’s multiple personality pic, and Lawrence’s excellent work suffers from the same limited exposure. Williams will get the Weinstein push, but it might not be enough to overcome the already building consensus on Black Swan‘s tragic ballerina. Kidman could sneak in - she’s very good in Rabbit Hole - but Portman’s win already looks like a done deal.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack
In a category that shouldn’t even exist - none of the performances here match the work to be found in the Drama group - we will pick Depp, if only because of his multiple nods. Oddly enough, his turn in The Tourist was the only good thing about that fiasco. As for the rest, you’re guess is as good as the half-assed nominations themselves.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening, The Kids Are Alright
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist
Emma Stone, Easy A
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are Alright
Yeah for Emma Stone! She’s been a star in the waiting for long enough. But she really doesn’t stand a chance against the pro-PC positioning of Moore and Bening as committed (?) lesbians struggling to keep their marriage together. Jolie’s acknowledgement is laughable at best (if her efforts in The Tourist were good enough, why not Salt?) and as for Hathaway, she appears to be nothing more than pretty press gauntlet fodder, nothing more or less.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
An interesting group of women, all of whom gave great performances this year. If based on screen time alone, Kunis is the amiable afterthought. Similarly, Leo and Adams will negate each other, their work in The Fighter adding depth to an already dense story. While it might looks like Bonham Carter’s year, don’t be surprised is Ms. Weaver walks away with it. She’s been a critic’s darling ever since the excellent Australian crime thriller hit theaters over the summer.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street 2
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
Get Michael Douglas’ cancer-scare career-overview recognition out of here. He’s recovering, and he’s done better work. Similarly, Andrew Garfield is good, but not great, as one of many scorned by the power struggles of one Mark Zuckerberg. While Renner is also terrific, he’s not crucial to The Town‘s success. That just leaves Rush and Bale - and it all depends if the voters are swayed by Bostonian addict bravado or sheepish Australian polish. Either in the winner’s circle would be acceptable.
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Now we get to the difficult bit. How great would it be if Aronofsky, or Fincher, or Nolan won. Each has so much geek cred going for him that a statue would really rock Messageboard Nation. Russell has too much YouTube baggage to be a serious contender, but his film is definitely worth considering. That just leave UK TV ace Hooper to play spoiler. While Speech is not as strong cinematically as the other entries in this category, it does have the kind of prepackaged patina that makes Awards voters swoon.
Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids are Alright
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Sieber, The King’s Speech
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Sorkin has this sewn up. Nolan could give him a run, but for the most part, The Social Network‘s script has been a point of praise since the film first screened.
Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
This could be interesting. While Pixar usually has this category firmly wrapped up, Dragon has been coming on strong as of late. Some are even predicting an Illusionist win, the thinking being that all the Hollywood hits will cancel each other out and lead to a left field selection walking away from the prize. Our guess? Don’t count out the House of Mouse -or its subsidiaries - quite yet.
Best Foreign Language Film
I Am Love
In a Better World
Either the other four films in this category are so amazing that they match perfectly with the latest from Babel/21 Grams guide Alejandro González Iñárritu, or the Hollywood Foreign Press really want Biutiful to win. As a full time critic, I can proudly say I have only heard of one other title here - and the Tilda Swinton vehicle is good, but not grand. It’s a shame there was no room for Dogtooth, or Mother, or Micmacs in this mix.