What do The Apartment, Annie Hall and Shakespeare in Love all have in common? They were entered in the “Musical/Comedy” category at the Golden Globes. I surveyed many of my Twitter followers to ask them whether or not they considered those films romantic comedies or not. The conclusion was mostly than none of them fit the mold completely. In romantic comedies the guy usually gets the girl. He only gets the girl in The Apartment, which is more drama than comedy. In both Annie Hall and Shakespeare in Love the ending is bittersweet. The guy loses the girl but keeps her permanently in his heart. Yes, I’m aware that all three of these movies – with the possible exception of The Apartment – follow the arc of a male character. What else is new? Even now, in 2012, most of the films heading into the Oscar race follow the arc of the male lead. The exceptions – Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom (to a degree it’s about both). And now, if it is one of the films in consideration, Middle of Nowhere. Zero Dark Thirty hangs on the intel of a female character.
Why does any of this matter? Because romantic comedies that hang on men tend to do better in the race than those that hang on women, which are few and far between.
Now, Silver Linings Playbook is in the lead to win Best Picture if you go by Fandango’s Dave Karger and The Wrap’s Steve Pond. It will be put in the category of comedy at the Globes. But that puts it against Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. That’s kind of like putting your bishop in front of your queen.
Only Annie Hall lost the Globe for Best Picture, Comedy and went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The Goodbye Girl, which won the Globe that year, beat High Anxiety, and musicals New York, New York and Saturday Night Fever. But neither The Apartment nor Shakespeare in Love went up against a musical. Not only is Les Miserables a musical but that’s all it is – pure musical. There are no speaking parts. That would mean that if Silver Linings Playbook wins instead that ups its chances significantly to win the Best Picture Oscar, although Les Miserables has what it doesn’t: gravitas.