With the Golden Globes on January 5, 2020, we will get a somewhat clearer picture of which films have strength against their rivals. But the problem this year at the Globes is that at least three of the frontrunners are in three different categories:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Musical/Comedy
1917, The Irishman — Drama
Parasite — Foreign Language
Unless we think that a film like The Two Popes or Jojo Rabbit could suddenly rise to be a Best Picture frontrunner, then this is how it will go. Both are feel good films that warm hearts and, thus, remain threats to win on a preferential ballot. However, they will have to break with recent tradition to do so.
We won’t see a real showdown of the eventual Best Picture nominees until the Producers Guild announces its nominations next week, where all of our presumed top three will be going head to head. The winner will be chosen by preferential ballot and thousands of industry voters will be weighing in for the first time all year.
The strongest chance a film has to win at the Globes (and at the Oscars) is to have nominations in the major categories of Picture, Director, and Screenplay. While it isn’t necessary to show up in all three categories to win at the Globes, it surely helps.
It certainly can happen that a film wins Drama without a Screenplay nomination — a recent example would be The Revenant, which won Best Picture and Best Director without Screenplay. That year, Spotlight had all three nominations and didn’t win. That’s a reminder of how quickly we can see the race change in just a few short weeks.
Another situation to watch out for would resemble the year when Avatar won Picture and Director at Globes but did not have a screenplay nomination. Although The Hurt Locker didn’t win Screenplay there (Up in the Air did), at least it had both of those nominations.
But if the eventual Best Picture winner at Oscars arrives on a path from the Musical/Comedy category, like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, then it’s possible a film that wins Best Picture at the Globes doesn’t have both Screenplay and Director, like 1917 or Marriage Story or even Joker.
In general, the Globes’ big winners have corresponding Screenplay and Director nods, and in general the eventual Best Picture winner at the Oscars also has both (Crash being a notorious exception, having only a screenplay nomination and missing director and Best Picture at the Globes).
If Parasite is the eventual Best Picture winner, becoming the first ever foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, then obviously any film can win the other categories.
The films this year that have both the accompanying Screenplay and Director nominations are:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite (albeit in Foreign Language, it touches the bases for Screenplay and Director as well.)
That perhaps gives us a good indication of our frontrunners to win in these categories, even as we bear in mind that The Revenant beat Spotlight. But, at least historically speaking, we are looking for a film that has all three nominations to win.
So if these are our three frontrunners, how likely is it for one of them to win all three major awards? Picture in its own separate category, Screenplay, and Director? Or do they split up? And if so, how? Which way? If Quentin Tarantino wins those three categories, it would put him on track to win the Oscar for all three, but to seal the deal his film would surely need to win the PGA on a preferential ballot (that’s always the tricky part).
We don’t yet know if this will be a year where one movies wins everything, or whether there will be a split between Picture and Director at the Oscars. Can the Globes give us any indication?
Let’s look at the pattern for Globes-PGA-DGA-SAG-Oscar in the era of the expanded ballot:
2009 — a non-split year
Globes Drama: Avatar + Director
Globes Musical/Comedy: The Hangover
Globes Screenplay: Up in the Air
PGA/DGA: The Hurt Locker
SAG: Inglourious Basterds
Oscar: The Hurt Locker + Director + Screenplay
2010 — non-split year
Globes: The Social Network + Director + Screenplay
Globes Musical/Comedy: The Kids Are All Right
PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble: The King’s Speech
Oscar: The King’s Speech + Director + Screenplay
2011 — non-split year
Globes Drama: The Descendants + Screenplay
Globes Musical/Comedy: The Artist
PGA/DGA: The Artist
SAG Ensemble: The Help
Oscar: The Artist + Director
2012 — split year
Globes Drama: Argo + Director + Screenplay
Globes Musical/Comedy: Les Miserables
PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble: Argo
Oscar Director: Life of Pi
Oscar: Argo + Screenplay
2013 — split year
Globes Drama: 12 Years a Slave
Globes Musical/Comedy: American Hustle
Globes Screenplay: Her
Globes Director: Gravity
PGA: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity (tie)
SAG Ensemble: American Hustle
Oscar Director: Gravity
Oscar: 12 Years a Slave + Screenplay
2014 — non-split year
Globes Drama: Boyhood + Director
Globes Musical/Comedy: Grand Budapest Hotel
Globes Screenplay: Birdman
PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble: Birdman
Oscar: Birdman + Director + Screenplay
2015 — split year
Globes Drama: The Revenant + Director
Globes Musical/Comedy: The Martian
Globes Screenplay: Steve Jobs
PGA: The Big Short
DGA: The Revenant
SAG Ensemble: Spotlight
Oscar Director: The Revenant
Oscar: Spotlight + Screenplay
2016 — split year
Globes Drama: Moonlight
Globes Musical/Comedy: La La Land + Screenplay + Director
PGA/DGA: La La Land
SAG Ensemble: Hidden Figures
Oscar Director: La La Land
Oscar: Moonlight + Screenplay
2017 — non-Split Year
Globes Drama: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri + Screenplay
Globes Director: The Shape of Water
PGA/DGA: The Shape of Water
SAG Ensemble: Three Billboards
Oscar Screenplay: Get Out, Call Me by Your Name
Oscar: The Shape of Water + Director
2018 — split year
Globes Drama: Bohemian Rhapsody
Globes Musical/Comedy: Green Book + Screenplay
Globes Director: Roma
PGA: Green Book
SAG Ensemble: Black Panther
Oscar Director: Roma
Oscar: Green Book + Screenplay
The Globes can often help give an idea about whether a film has universal appeal. If they really like it, and others really like it, that means it has a pretty good chance at winning the big prize down the line. Of course, if a film doesn’t win at the Globes that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t win the Oscar. But it surely helps if the HPFA liked it enough to give it nominations in the major categories.
Because they are the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and not the Academy, they don’t feel the effect of a massive infusion of actors like the Academy membership has received recently.
Even though The Irishman seems like the sure bet winner in the Drama category, I would watch out for 1917. It came out very late in the season and is only just now picking up momentum. Something tells me it could make a show at the Globes, but we know it can’t win Screenplay.
I would also watch out for The Two Popes — the sly and stealthy crowdpleaser that could do very well at Globes and, it must be said, will likely score high on a preferential ballot. It is just the kind of film that could do very well there.
Either way, my friends, we are in a year where we are flying blind, with many unprecedented factors in play.
Please predict below which film you think will win Best Picture in each category: