After the 75th Annual Golden Globes on January 7th, there’s been a swell of talk about the Oscar race. The Golden Globes don’t have a direct effect on the Oscars. The Hollywood Foreign Press, a group of journalists and photographers who aren’t part of any Hollywood Guilds, nor are they members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that awards Oscars, chooses them. For the most part, the Globes help shed light on issues and help audiences put faces with names. They also put the current contenders in the same room together, which can help at times.
Let’s put it like this: the company you work for announces nominees for Employee of the Year. One or two people you know are nominated, as well as this guy named John whom you’ve heard about but have never met. The company holds some sort of event or party and you meet him. He’s nice, funny, caring, and seems to be deserving of the nomination and maybe even the award. And so from that day on when people bring it up, you say, “Yeah, he’s a good guy. I’m glad he’s nominated.” The Globes are that company party.
Not many surprises came out of this year’s Globes, especially given the current flow in Hollywood. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film about a mother searching for answers after the rape and murder of her daughter, is a timely story. Critics are hailing it as one of the best films of the year, and they have been since it came out of the festival circuit at the beginning of 2017. This film won Best Drama, Best Actress – Drama (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), and Best Screenplay. Lady Bird, written and directed by the very talented Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, is a coming of age story that won Best Actress in a Comedy and Best Comedy. Allison Janney’s Best Supporting Actress win, James Franco’s Best Actor in a Comedy win, and Gary Oldman’s Best Actor in a Drama win are all for roles that are being touted as each actor’s best. All three performances have been called Awards-worthy since before the films were even released. Essentially, all of those contenders remain contenders and stay towards the top. However, there are four categories that may help shift things due to the evening’s results: Director, Foreign Feature, Animated Feature, and Best Original Song.
Best Original Song went to “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. Sometimes songs alone can help gain attention for a film. In 2008, the song “Falling Slowly” from the indie film Once won the Oscar for best song, turning the film and song into a cult phenomenon and eventually led to the film becoming a Broadway musical that won 8 Tony Awards. The Greatest Showman has had some decent feedback from audiences but hasn’t received much critical acclaim. If Academy members listen to the song and decide to see the film, after perhaps not having any inclination to, this could tilt the scales in the film’s favor. The film itself carries messages of accepting everyone for who they are, as well as the power of the world of Entertainment – two things that the Academy loves to highlight and award (re: The Artist, La La Land, etc.).
Best Animated Feature went to Coco, the latest Disney/Pixar film. While Disney and Pixar have a stronghold over this category, having won 11 of the 16 Awards (the category was only introduced in 2001), this win could actually work against Coco. Coco is doing well in theatres; most have called it “another great Pixar film,” and in many ways, it’s the first mainstream animated film centered on Mexican culture (all of which are great things and deserve recognition). But many have compared the film to the 2014 film The Book of Life, which features similar themes and centers on Mexican culture and Dia de Muertos. Add that to the dark cloud hanging over Pixar due to its leader, John Lasseter, facing accusations of sexual misconduct, and the Academy may say, “Well, it won the Globe,” and leave it at that. That being said, there weren’t many animated films this year that seemed to really scream “Oscar nominee” so we’ll see how things play out. (Personally, even without seeing the film, I think I, a film made wholly out of oil paintings, should win for its achievement alone.)
Until the Golden Globes, there hadn’t been much chatter about most of the Foreign Films in the running for an Oscar. The biggest contender seemed to be The Square, which has received tons of critical acclaim and won the Palm d’Or (the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival), along with a handful of other “foreign film” awards. The film also costars Elisabeth Moss, who is becoming a higher profile star thanks to The Handmaid’s Tale. But the HFPA awarded the Golden Globe to In The Fade, a film starring Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) as a German woman who goes on a quest for justice after her husband and son are killed by Neo-Nazis. Given the current political climate, it’s no surprise the film won, and it may gain some serious traction leading up to the Oscars.
Finally, the HFPA has gotten a lot of grief for the fact that not a single woman was nominated for Best Director this year. The only nominated director who wasn’t a white male was Guillermo del Toro, who took home the Golden Globe. Natalie Portman, who presented the award with director Ron Howard, even made a slight dig at the HFPA by saying, “Here are the all-male nominees,” before announcing their names. The nominees for the Golden Globes consisted of Steven Spielberg (The Post), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World) and del Toro for The Shape of Water. As of now, del Toro is a shoo-in; he made a great film and is a seemingly great guy. Spielberg made a film that is very timely given the current outlook/importance of the press. McDonaugh made another very timely film as explained before. Scott will probably get a nomination for the fact that he was able to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer seamlessly in less than a month. His ability to make that work, and the fact that he took a stand to make it happen, will probably give him a nomination. Overall, Nolan may be the odd man out. He made a great film, he is one of the best directors in the industry, and Dunkirk will probably get plenty of nominations, but the Academy has yet to nominate him for Directing.
So the question becomes, if there is only one slot for a female director, who gets the nomination? In my book, there are three contenders. The least likely is Dee Rees, who directed Mudbound. The film is being hailed as a great piece of cinema that deserves recognition, but being released by Netflix gives it a stigma that the Academy may not be willing to pull away from. The Academy has not looked favorably on “streaming site” films, despite some really great material. On top of that, this is Rees’ first major film, and so they say, let’s wait and see what else she does. That being said, she will probably get a Screenplay nomination for the film. The second most likely is Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman. She made a solid film that isn’t just a blockbuster superhero film, but a film that has empowered women and proved that women deserve a seat at the table when it comes to blockbuster films, both in front of and behind the camera. The biggest thing holding her back is the fact that it is a superhero film, which The Academy doesn’t tend to nominate for much. The most likely nominee is Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. Not only is she likely to get the nomination, she may end up winning. Gerwig has proven herself to be a true artist in recent years, and in my honest opinion, it’s currently a three-way tie between her, del Toro, and McDonaugh for the win. But we’ll see.
There’s still a lot that can happen between now and January 23rd when the nominees are announced, and even more between now and March 4th, the date of the Oscar ceremony. For now, it’s still shaping up to be an interesting race full of first-timers and plenty of underdogs. Stay tuned to Poor Man’s Spoiler for our continued coverage of Awards Season and the Oscar Race. And be sure to watch the Oscars when they air on ABC on March 4th at 8pm ET.