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.
It’s possible that 2012 will be a year a comedy wins Best Picture. Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan, Annie Hall beat Star Wars – but really had no competition beyond that. And The Apartment remains not only one of the best films ever made but one of Oscar’s best ever decisions for Best Picture. It beat nothing, particularly, as it too had no competition. So really only Shakespeare in Love had a strong competitor in Saving Private Ryan. While Shakespeare in Love is the better film overall, Private Ryan’s standing in film history and its first 40 minutes seem to indicate that it would have been the better choice for the prize. This is backed up by John Madden failing to win Best Director; a strong Best Picture winner, even relatively light fare like The King’s Speech and The Artist won Best Director too, legitimizing their wins. A weaker win, a closer vote, will fail to drag the director along – Chicago, Crash, etc.
To sell Silver Linings Playbook, though, The Weinstein Co. will have to sell David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper too. 2012 is one of the best years for film overall, with one masterpiece turning up after the next. After 13 years covering the Oscar race I know that it’s foolhardy to think one of those will ever win Best Picture. We aren’t talking rewarding the best film of the year. We are talking about the film most of the 6,000 voters in the Academy can agree upon as the best. In my life I’ll never really understand the majority vote. But it is what it is.
The drama category at the Globes is likely filling up fast too. But it’s still too early, believe it or not, to proclaim. The Globe voting body can be even more sappy than the Academy. The fate of Beasts of the Southern Wild is uncertain – will it be too hard core, too ugly for them?
Because of Oscar’s date change, the HFPA will likely screen many of the film
Here are some possible titles for the Globes drama:
Life of Pi
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Zero Dark Thirty
The Promised Land
You just never know with the Globes how they will go. But look at those titles. It’s hard to know if they will go for The Master or not. They tend to go for weepy over complex and since so many are unsure what The Master is even about it’s hard to imagine that the HFPA will go for it. Conversely, Anna Karenina seems right up their street. The Weinstein Co. tends to do very well with the HFPA — Jennifer Lawrence will likely win Best Actress for Musical/Comedy and Bradley Cooper will go head to head with Hugh Jackman for the win. We don’t yet know where Dhango Unchained will place. They love Tarantino.
As for Musical/Comedy at the Globes you have:
Silver Linings Playbook
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Hyde Park on Hudson
I’m wondering about:
Usually the Globe nominations don’t have that much of an impact on the race because they came too early. But Oscar ballots are going out earlier so who knows.
How about you, readers? What are your early Globes picks?