In a way, the Globes don’t have much of an impact on the Oscars. But this year, like last year, they do come at a time when the race is in flux. That Argo won both the Critics Choice and the Globe at roughly the same time the Oscars “snubbed” him in the director category set into motion a perfect storm. Momentum built from there. When it was Kathryn Bigelow vs. Jim Cameron, Cameron’s win at the Globes seemed to have the opposite effect. Seeing Bigelow lose to Cameron set into motion sympathy for her. We’ll never really know, of course, if it was just down to the movie. It can certainly be just down to that, especially when you are talking about thousands of voters versus 100 or so.
To that end, though, how can the Globes shift momentum? Here are a few ways.
1. If Steve McQueen becomes the first black director to win the Golden Globe in 70 years of their history to do so. I believe the power of the moment, something that exceptional, could have the same effect seeing Kathryn Bigelow win the DGA for the first time — and it could perhaps shift momentum in McQueen’s and 12 Years a Slave’s direction.
2. If David O. Russell wins Best Director tonight at the Globes, and American Hustle wins Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Picture, it is very likely the unstoppable force heading into the PGA. A word to David O. Russell, however. Keep the speech short — he has a tendency to go on and on. He must be grateful, humble and moved. Sorry, I know. It sounds so crass to say it but unfortunately this is how the game is played.
3. The fate of Philomena is up in the air right now. The Globes can sometimes push a film like that into the forefront, a la Scent of a Woman. But that will only matter if Philomena gets a surprise Best Picture nomination at the Oscars like it did at the BAFTAs, making one of their five even. It is the kind of movie that will sit high on the preferential ballot. If Philomena surprises in any category at all — Actress, Screenplay, or Picture that could shift momentum in the film’s favor, particularly if the charismatic Steve Coogan takes the mic. The result could mean a Best Actress win for Judi Dench.
4. If 12 Years a Slave or Gravity takes both Picture and Director that might not change things much — in fact, it might set one or the other back into the frontrunner’s spot, where neither wants to be coming out of the Globes. It will feel too anticlimactic for the industry voters who really need an incentive to pick a winner. American Hustle brings with it a big party. Gravity is hurt by not having a big ensemble cast. 12 Years a Slave is hurt by being the de facto frontrunner heading in, and kind of a bummer overall. No one wants to really perpetuate a bummer.
On the other hand, 12 Years has making history on its side – not only the first black director in an industry that ought to be shamed often for its lack of opportunity for black directors, but also one that is written and directed by black artists, not to mention the cast. This is by no means the first film by black artists or African Americans but it is the first to get this close to winning Best Picture. That is, despite what the big city critics thought, a powerful incentive. For both of these movies how they accept their awards is going to be key. It’s unfortunate that Oscar wins usually come down to how voters FEEL while seeing a person win — but that is just how it is. The Artist crew smartly trotted out Uggie the dog so that, while the director himself was kind of cold, the dog kept everyone cheering and rooting for them. Kathryn Bigelow and Danny Boyle were both people everyone liked see win and needless to say, Ben Affleck, after his snub — with his lovely family and his nice boy personality, and his charm and humor was a great person to see win again and again. I suppose it helps to have acting training in that regard. Film awards are a tricky thing, though. Personality counts. In lieu of personality, tears.
5. This will be the first time big audiences see Cate Blanchett win an Oscar. That could help her momentum greatly. But if Amy Adams wins Best Actress as expected, in comedy, that will put it down to Adams vs. Blanchett ONLY IF Adams is the surprise fifth nominee at the Oscars as she was at the BAFTAs, squeezing out Meryl Streep. Blanchett is no stranger to winning awards, of course, but Adams isn’t so used to it. It will be interesting to see how either actress handles her respective win. Of course, if anyone beats either of them it will be a moot point.
The Globes can impact the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild, their deadline is January 17. The Directors Guild, their deadline is January 24th. The Oscar nominations are on the 16th. That means that the Oscar nominations will only impact the people waiting until the last day. So it’s entirely possible someone could win the SAG and not even be nominated for an Oscar. But that is neither here nor there, just an interesting thing to note.