Other than Martin Scorsese’s win for Best Director and The Descendants win for Best Picture Drama, the Golden Globes were dominated by Weinstein backed films — it’s beginning to look a lot like last year.
Picture/Comedy – The Artist – Weinstein Co.
Actor/Comedy – Jean DuJardin – Weinstein Co.
Actress/Comedy – Michelle Williams – Weinstein Co.
Best Actress/Drama – Meryl Streep – Weinstein Co.
Best Song – Madonna – Weinstein Co.
Score – The Artist – Weinstein Co.
Best Screenplay – Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, Sony Pics Classics
Best Director – Martin Scorsese/Paramount
Best Picture/Drama – The Descendants – Fox Searchlight
Best Actor/Drama – George Clooney – Fox Searchlight
Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer, Beginners – Focus
Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer, The Help, Dreamworks
Animation – TinTin – Dreamworks
From here, it’s hard to imagine any film having the momentum to beat The Artist. The only two films that are close are The Descendants and Hugo – Hugo has Scorsese winning for Director. The Descendants has George Clooney as the strong leading actor contender, with Alexander Payne, a beloved unrewarded American director. Both Paramount and Fox Searchlight are going to push their films hard. But no one is a better Oscar/Globe whisperer than Harvey Weinstein and the Team Weinstein co. They are great at finding films that can win awards because they’re great at knowing what kinds of films DO win awards.
When Weinstein Co. picked up The Artist in Cannes they knew they had something really special — it was the kind of movie you can sit almost anyone down in front of it and they will like it/get it/love it. It’s the only one, in fact, that doesn’t have any haters. The only haters the movie has are people who are bored by it winning everything. It has a built-in Oscar story: silent black and white French movie winning Best Picture? And it’s one that charms the pants off of everyone.
The Artist will always be that movie that makes people smile when they think about it. Is that enough to drive a sweep? Absolutely. Does that make it the best film of 2011? That will be a matter of opinion. In my opinion it isn’t the best film of the year. But when you’re talking about award wins, you’re talking about the common denominator. This is why the Best Picture winners are almost always the most vanilla of the bunch. That is also why it’s dangerous to take the film awards race seriously when it comes to deciding what is good and what isn’t, what will last and what won’t. When 6,000 Oscar voters vote and pick a movie to win you can’t really expect that individual choices are going to be honored. The consensus wins the day.
As expected, Meryl Streep’s 5th win for Actress at the Globes even made Streep feel uncomfortable. When she said, “Viola, you’re my girl,” it was obvious her own support was with Davis. They love her at the HFPA. No doubt she gave a wonderful performance as Margaret Thatcher. Davis’ performance is the best of her career. A role like that for a black actress doesn’t come around very often. Streep herself made the plea to Hollywood to come up with a great script for Davis. They did just that. It must feel strange to Streep, then, that her main competition is Davis. Except for the fact that Streep is almost always in the hunt now. She is offered the best parts because she’s Meryl Streep. Davis might get offered better parts as the result of this year, but she will really soar if she wins.
The Best Actress race will likely be decided by the Screen Actors Guild. When Halle Berry was up for the award, she lost the Globe but then won the SAG and then won the Oscar. She was the last black actress to win the Globe and the first and only to win the lead Best Actress Oscar. It is unacceptable that only one black actress has won in that category. Anyone who can sleep at night with that stat, more power to you. It is easier in 2012 to win the Presidential election if you’re black than to win the Best Actress Oscar.
Bringing up race and racism is a double edged sword. You will say, well look at the performances. That’s all that matters. Meryl Streep gave the better performance so she should win the Oscar. Viola Davis’ role could be considered supporting by some so she shouldn’t win the Oscar. You can look at it that matter-of-factly. When I look at it, I see how rare of a situation this is. It’s nearly impossible for a film about black characters to be a strong best picture contender. Nearly impossible to get the films made at all.
When Meryl Streep started naming other actresses in contention that weren’t in the hunt for Best Actress it was her way of saying how great everyone is and that we shouldn’t have to pick a winner. But we DO have to pick a winner, Blanch, WE DO. And 99% of the time, that winner is a white actress. You have to start talking about why it’s so hard to fund, produce, promote films about black characters. Sure, Precious did extremely well when it was in the running. The DGA nominated its first ever black director with Lee Daniels. Geoffrey Fletcher became the first black screenwriter to ever win the Oscar. Was Precious better than Up in the Air? You’re damned right it was. It was just a given that Up in the Air would win. That’s how the awards race rolls. That’s how Hollywood rolls. There are patterns that are deeply ingrained and it takes some effort and some awareness to change things.
The Globes actually have a better record than the Oscars, as Whoopi Goldberg and Angela Bassett both won before losing the Oscar ultimately to white actresses (of course). So why should Meryl Streep have to pay the price for 84 years of racism in Hollywood? She shouldn’t. And indeed, if voters feel that they must reward Streep her third Oscar and deny Davis her first, so be it. But there is no reason to shut up about it. As we learned from last year, it doesn’t matter how much we try to convince voters to vote for a film — in the end they’re still going to listen to Harvey Weinstein — er, I mean, vote with their hearts.