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The Golden Globes Preview – Testing the Sea Legs


The Golden Globes are coming off a really terrible Critics Choice broadcast. They were happy because their numbers were good — and let it be said if there is one thing of value if you’re a broadcast critic, it’s television ratings.   There is no point in taking them that seriously, after all, many of them aren’t critics and some are even awards bloggers out to strategize the race from within. They are to be taken, as most awards are, with a grain of salt.

Tonight will put some films to a tougher test — the presumed winners in each category face formidable challengers. Since the race has had three dramatic shifts in the narratives, that all came down to the director category, Best Picture seems wide open, even still.

1. Tom Hooper and David O. Russell missing the crucial Golden Globe nomination for Director.
2. David O. Russell missing the even more crucial DGA nod.
3. David O. Russell, Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin getting into the Oscar race for director but Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow not.

It goes without saying but should be said again that there has never been a year like 2012 in 65 years of DGA/Oscar history

The Golden Globes are only around 100 voters. The DGA are 14,500 and the Oscar director’s branch are 369.  That small group chose not to vote for Bigelow and Affleck but they are a crucial group, which goes without saying.

The Best Picture frontrunner will likely be revealed not tonight but when the Producers Guild, or even SAG ensemble, become the first major guild to hand out the award.  That might mean a sweep of the guilds and Oscar or it might mean it’s split up all over the place.  An unpredictable year is just that: unpredictable. Be careful what you wish for.

Stats-wise, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo have about an equal chance to STILL win, even with the director leave-off because they have the larger consensus voters in the DGA (14,500) picked Affleck, and Oscar picked Russell.  Zero Dark Thirty has always been hurt by having no SAG ensemble nomination.  Silver Linings Playbook has all four acting nominations and has suddenly been propelled to the front of the line, because it, like Lincoln and Life of Pi, seem to have the best chance to win. That might impact how people vote in the coming races, particularly SAG ensemble, and we might find further evidence of tides already turning in tonight’s Musical/Comedy Best Picture.

It also goes without saying that Lincoln is still the only one with every major stat on its side. That might mean everything and it might mean nothing — flip a coin, take a random guess, spit in the wind, it’s all the same. We don’t know the outcome yet and any film could win at this point. Films with the best chance: Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo.  But come to that, in a weird year like this, any film could take the top spot and it would almost not be that surprising.

The only reason we pay more attention to the Globes than any other precursor involving critics is that they’ve been around the longest and they have matched Oscar more than any other group, by a long, long way, even when they haven’t matched in recent years for Best Picture.

Here are the stats that effect THIS year:

1. Only one film has ever managed to win from the Musical/Comedy category with no director nomination at the Globes or DGA — Driving Miss Daisy, our favorite anomaly to trot out. 

Even WITHOUT the directors nomination, Driving Miss Daisy won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture in the Musical/Comedy category.  And Born on the Fourth of July won in the drama category, went on to win Best Director at the Oscars, while Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture. That was a case of voters really liking a movie and not really caring all that much about the director. But I think, if voters REALLY LIKE Silver Linings Playbook enough to give it Best Picture over some of the best films the Oscar race, they will give it Best Picture at the Globes FIRST. If Les Miserables beats it it will need to pick up a momentum boost elsewhere, maybe at the PGAs.

If Silver Linings Playbook becomes the Oscar frontrunner, it will follow in the thematic pattern of the last three Best Picture winners the Weinstein Co brought to Oscar: leading man with damaged ego is propped up by those around him and manages to squeak out triumph over his own failings.  The stuttering King barely gives a speech but he gives a speech! The silent film star barely has a career but he has a career as a musical co-dancer. And the guy with bi-polar barely wins the dance contest but he wins big anyway.  Obviously voters like this narrative. They like the underdog winning the day — they seem to admire less characters who do bigger things, achieve greatness … because in the end they aren’t as likable, perhaps, or voters don’t feel like they’re doing a good deed when they hand over their vote.  Irrational as it may seem, this is how it apparently works.

Take Slumdog Millionaire vs. Benjamin Button – if you watch those two movies now, Button is by far the greater achievement.  Slumdog is more charming, perhaps, as it makes you fall in love with those characters and you’re so happy when everything turns out so well. But side by side, as I’m finding out now all of these years later, Button was the better movie.  But to realize that you need to dive back into both movies, something people aren’t really ready to do. Slumdog was an awards juggernaut. It won everything without blinking.  That is irrational voting at play.  It works in advertising and it works in the Oscar race and the Weinstein Co. have mastered it.  That is why Silver Linings Playbook is such a big threat to win the big thing. You’re never going to get an irrational vote of support for Lincoln.  The only way to work in irrationality is to have their be industry-wide appreciation for Spielberg’s success not just this year but for the past 40 years.  And we know from Oscar history that hardly ever happens. They either like the movie or they don’t.

2.  The only film to win Best Picture without first winning the Globes for Comedy was Annie Hall.  

That means — tonight — to really stay in the race, I think Silver Linings Playbook needs to win the Golden Globe for Musical/Comedy. I think it WILL win and have predicted it to win over at Gold Derby. In this, the third year of watching this dog and pony show play out, I can see the ending coming a mile away.

In the drama category I used to think that Kathryn Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty were going to win. This, because she did not win for The Hurt Locker. It went to Avatar instead. Then the Hurt Locker won the PGA and the race was over.  Since the Globes are calling 2012 the Year of the Woman I figured Bigelow and her film would win this year. But now I’m not so sure.

According to their website, the final ballots for the Globes were turned in BEFORE Oscar nominations. That means the Globes voters didn’t know Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper would both be left off the list for Director.  That means Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty could still win.

Many of the pundits over at Gold Derby are predicting Lincoln to win. I currently have Argo in the slot to win. But to tell the truth, I don’t know what will win in the drama category. Lincoln has yet to win a single major award. The film that leads the nominations doesn’t always win, or maybe 50% of the time it does.   But I think it could very easily go to Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty.

The only way the Globes can directly influence the race is how voters feel when someone wins and how voters feel when someone doesn’t.  This was best illustrated in 2009 when Jim Cameron won Picture and Director from the Globes, stealing Kathryn Bigelow’s place in the sun.  In the end, Bigelow would triumph and I have always thought that things might have turned out differently if she and not he had won the Globe.

I also think Bradley Cooper will beat Hugh Jackman, now that I’ve slept on it. I think there’s a good chance Jackman will win. I think he deserves to win but I also think if Silver Linings Playbook wins Best Picture, Cooper and Lawrence will both win in their acting categories.

That will put Cooper and Daniel Day-Lewis head to head at the SAGs.  I will reserve comment about that for now.

Jessica Chastain will go up against Naomi Watts, I think, for lead actress in drama. I think Chastain will prevail but it will depend on how much they like Zero Dark Thirty. I could see that movie and Chastain winning big in the drama category.

Screenplay feels like its down to Lincoln vs. Silver Linings Playbook vs. the outside chance of Django Unchained winning.  It’s been said that the HFPA favors the Weinstein Co. and thus, I do think it’s possible that Lincoln will be upset in the screenplay category.   It’s a bit of a joke to imagine any other screenplay beating Lincoln, considering, but I know how irrational voting works so anything is possible.

To that end, here are our predictions.

Best Picture Drama
Argo-Sasha Stone
Lincoln–Ryan Adams, Erik Anderson, Marshall Flores, Ryan Adams
Life of Pi–Craig Kennedy

Best Actor, Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis–Adams, Anderson, Flores, Kennedy, Stone

Best Actress, Drama
Jessica Chastain–Anderson, Flores, Stone
Naomi Watts–Kennedy, Adams

Best Picture Musical/Comedy
Silver Linings Playbook–Adams, Anderson, Kennedy, Stone
Les Miserables–Flores

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Bradley Cooper–Stone
Hugh Jackman–Adams, Anderson, Flores, Kennedy

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Jennifer Lawrence–Adams, Anderson, Flores, Kennedy, Stone

Supporting Actor:
Leonardo DiCaprio–Anderson, Kennedy
Tommy Lee Jones–Flores, Stone
Christoph Waltz–Adams

Supporting Actress:
Anne Hathaway–Anderson, Flores, Kennedy, Stone
Sally Field–Adams

Steven Spielberg: Adams, Stone
Ben Affleck: Anderson, Flores
Ang Lee: Kennedy

Lincoln: Adams, Anderson, Flores, Stone
Silver Linings Playbook: Kennedy

Frankenweenie: Adams, Flores, Stone
Brave: Anderson, Kennedy

Lincoln–Flores, Kennedy, Stone
Cloud Atlas–Adams
Life of Pi–Anderson

Amour–Adams, Anderson, Flores, Kennedy, Stone

Skyfall: Adams, Anderson, Flores, Kennedy, Stone