The Golden Globes are the only major publicity event this year that takes place before Oscar ballots are due — would you believe that’s tomorrow at 5 p.m.? Yes, that’s it. Tomorrow, at 5 p.m., the first part of the race, or in the parlance of awards season “Phase One,” is over. In a wide open year, that means it’s still anyone’s game. The nominations will exist in a world without the Producers Guild or Directors Guild nominations for guidance. We will be waiting for both those to drop, which they will tomorrow morning. The last-minute voters will get a look at them before putting in their nominations, but for the most part, Oscar voters are flying blind.
This will obviously impact two categories: Best Director and Best Picture. Because to even start talking about those two categories, we really need to know who the DGA five are going to be. The Producers Guild ten are a little less urgent because they have ten nomination slots and ten nominees — that gives them a lot of room to name many a movie. The DGA, though — that’s a big one.
We think we know how the DGA will go, but we do not know for sure. There are three movies that weren’t in play at the Globes whose fate is uncertain at the moment: Little Women, Bombshell, and Knives Out. These three films seem to have their share of passionate supporters. So do all get in at PGA? Do any crack the DGA — can Greta Gerwig get a second nomination there? It’s very rare for any woman to get into the DGA twice — only Kathryn Bigelow has done it. But so far we just have no clue. Bombshell and Knives Out are doing better, guild-wise, but really Bombshell sort of owned the SAG whereas the other two didn’t. Does that make a difference? Hard to say.
But what of the Globes? What did they tell us? Here are some random observations by me. Really, we’re probably locked with acting wins I’d say:
Phoenix, Zellweger, Dern, Pitt.
Does that mean all will win? Not necessarily, but probably. We have no reason to assume otherwise at the moment. I’m thinking that two people might benefit from last night — Awkwafina and Taron Egerton. The latter also has a SAG nom and is likely your fifth in the actor category. But Awkwafina will have to bump either Cynthia Erivo for Harriet or Lupita Nyong’o for Us.
Absolutely incredible win for Hildur Guðnadóttir for scoring Joker — she’ll likely make it to the big show and could very likely win as it is extremely rare for a female composer to even be nominated in that category, much less win.
Screenplay — open
Best Director — open, but now it’s a three-way race between Mendes, Tarantino, and Bong Joon-ho, all whom won a top prize last night. BUT that doesn’t mean Scorsese or Phillips are out — it just means this is where we are right now.
Original Score — open, but seeing a female winner last night was a big deal that could carry over to the Oscars, handing the win for Original Score to Joker
Original Song — Elton
But here’s the big one:
The first factor is that the preferential ballot being in play at the PGA and the Oscars makes predicting Best Picture more difficult, with or without the Globes. The Globes, like the DGA, like the SAG, like BAFTA, have five nominees and a plurality rules. The preferential ballot doesn’t work like that. You have a first count and if no film wins a majority of votes, you have a recount. And then, the second- and even third-place titles can sometimes accumulate enough votes to become the winner. It is a hard process to game, but there are things we can reckon, just not at the moment. Why? Because we need to hear more from the guilds. We do not yet know if this is a split year or a not. Sometimes the split year shows up at the Globes, sometimes we have to see the guilds scatter in various directions before we know that’s happening.
Even in the years when the ballot wasn’t split, you had a bit of a hit-and-miss with Globes, the reason being the Producers Guild would come along and erase everything that came before, as happened with The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, and Birdman. In the case of The Hurt Locker, it was because voters had the choice between Avatar or The Hurt Locker and that was an easy call. With The King’s Speech and Birdman, the industry simply rejected the critics’ darlings leading up to the industry awards, abandoning the films that had been “winning everything” (Social Network, Boyhood). 1917 doesn’t fit in that category as the critics have completely ignored it. Parasite might be in the same position, The Irishman might have been if it had won last night.
Let’s look at Globes vis-a-vis preferential ballot since 2009
Globes: Avatar — Film (Drama) + Director
Guilds: The Hurt Locker — PGA, DGA
Oscar: The Hurt Locker — Pic + Director + Screenplay + Editing + Sound/Sound Editing
Globes: The Social Network — Film (Drama) + Director + Screenplay
Guilds: The King’s Speech — PGA, DGA, SAG ensemble
Oscar: The King’s Speech — BP + Director + Actor + Screenplay
Globes: The Artist — Film (Comedy) + Actor (Comedy) + Score
Guilds: The Artist — PGA, DGA
Oscars: The Artist — Pic + Director + Actor + Score + Costumes
Globes: Argo — Film (Drama) + Director
Guilds: Argo — PGA, DGA, SAG ensemble
Oscar: Argo — Pic + Screenplay + Editing; Life of Pi — Director + Score + VFX
2013 — SPLIT
Globes: 12 Years a Slave — Film (Drama); Gravity — Director
PGA: 12 Years a Slave (shared with Gravity)
SAG: American Hustle
Oscar: 12 Years a Slave — BP, Supporting Actress, Screenplay; Gravity — Director + Editing + Score + Sound/Sound Editing + VFX
Globes: Boyhood — Film (Drama) + Supporting Actress; Grand Budapest Hotel — Film (Musical/Comedy); Birdman — Actor (Musical/Comedy) + Screenplay
Guilds: Birdman — PGA, DGA, SAG
Oscar: Birdman — Pic + Director + Screenplay + Cinematography
2015 — SPLIT
Globes: The Revenant — Film (Drama) + Director + Actor (Drama); The Martian — Film (Comedy) + Actor (Comedy) (no Globes for Spotlight)
PGA: The Big Short
DGA: The Revenant
SAG ensemble: Spotlight
Oscar: Spotlight — Pic + Screenplay; The Revenant — Director + Actor + Cinematography
2016 — SPLIT
Globes: La La Land: Film (Musical) + Director + Actor (Musical) + Actress (Musical) + Screenplay + Song + Score (clean sweep); Moonlight — Film (Drama)
PGA: La La Land
DGA: La La Land
SAG ensemble: Hidden Figures
Oscar: Moonlight — Pic + Supporting Actor + Screenplay; La La Land — Director + Actress + Cinematography + Score + Song + Production Design
Globes: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Film (Drama) + Screenplay + Actress (Drama) + Supporting Actor; Shape of Water — Director + Score
PGA: Shape of Water
DGA: Shape of Water
SAG: Three Billboards
Oscar: Shape of Water — Pic + Director + Score + Production Design
2018 — SPLIT
Globes: Green Book — Pic (Comedy) + Screenplay + Supporting Actor; Roma — Director + Foreign Language
PGA: Green Book
SAG ensemble: Black Panther
Oscar: Green Book — Pic + Screenplay + Supporting Actor; Roma — Director, Cinematography + Foreign Language
What I take from looking at this is that 2015 was a hell of a year. That one was for the record books. It was insane. What you have now is a frontrunner that everyone thinks is going to “win everything.” That frontrunner seems to have a lock, more or less, on Best Director at least. But Best Picture is vulnerable to sabotage. What that means is that an erupting shitstorm can throw the race completely out of whack as it did with La La Land and with Three Billboards. It almost happened with Green Book too, but it fact the blowback had the opposite effect.
That is what I’ll be watching for now — the targeted hits at the frontrunners. Who are the frontrunners?
Well, for now there are three:
Sam Mendes beautiful 1917, which started the race very late but is picking up steam from people who are seeing it and word-of-mouth is catching on. We haven’t seen a winner come along like that since Million Dollar Baby. It just doesn’t happen in the modern era. But I will say to survive one must improvise, adapt, and overcome, and it could be that 1917 benefits from not being grist for the mill, for staying outside the points of attacks both in terms of being underestimated and in terms of dodging potential shitstorms.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — a film I have had in the number one spot for an entire year and that won pretty big last night. It has been around long enough to sustain the shitstorms and has proven its durability in recovering from them. That is the sweet spot in the era of the preferential ballot.
Parasite — still kicking around and a genuine threat on a preferential ballot for the simple reason that if the room was any indication last night, this is a crowd of folks who feel the need to be voting for something that makes a political statement. Something that “sticks it to the man,” or at least addresses the problems facing our culture. Income inequality, climate change, fear, desperation. It’s all in there.
I can make a pretty good case for 1917 being another movie about the perils we face right now and how that film’s powerful, moving rendering of the Great War that changed everything really does resonate. And I can make a pretty good case that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood gives people some kind of nostalgic relief to revisit a world that used to be, at the same time that it reminds us how every seemingly fortuitous choice we make has the potential to derail threats and avoid the path to a dangerous future.
Now, the question everyone will want to know: does last night’s outcome ding The Irishman? If Martin Scorsese won Globes for Gangs of New York, The Departed, and Hugo, but not The Irishman — what gives? Moreover, The Irishman was completely shut out of Globes wins. What does that mean? Again. we have to wait to see what the PGA and DGA do. That goes for the rest of the Netflix bounty: Marriage Story, The Two Popes, and even Dolemite Is My Name. We just don’t know how it all lands. But the WGA nominations today might help clarify some of that.
Well, I see The Irishman’s shutout as a two-way thing. The first is that the film itself is somber, reflective — not exactly the kind of thing people have ever voted for with these kinds of awards. They are carried away by passion, not mediation. But secondly, Netflix had three movies pushing in and competing everywhere. In screenplay, they had three. In Film (Drama), three. Ordinarily, I would say that this adversely works against voters choosing just one because even a small split within such a small group of voters can tip the balance away from a win. But I would caution against relying on this as a working theory, at least for now, because the thing to know about last night (the thing that sticks with me) is Sam Mendes winning Best Director. A show of support that significant could signal an un-split year.
On the other hand, the PGA could dismantle the whole thing. I still see it as a wide open race, but 1917 got the biggest boost, Once Upon a Time second biggest, and Parasite third biggest.
That’s all I know today. WGA noms coming at ya soon.