Entertainment » Movies

Award Watch :: Handicapping the Golden Globes

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Saturday Jan 14, 2012

What’s been most interesting about this award season is that there have been no clear-cut favorite. Unlike last year when it seemed "The King’s Speech" was the front-runner from December on, putting off any hope of a surge by "The Social Network;" this year appears pretty wide open.

Sure, "The Artist" has topped many critics lists and early awards, but it’s a silent movie and hasn’t really caught on at the box office. (Approximately $7.5 million to date.) At a recent screening I attended, there were maybe 40 people attending and it took some time for the film to work its considerable charm. Much longer than it did with earlier packed screening audiences.

This may be where "The Artist" is vulnerable - despite being a delightful film, it is a silent movie that will never have the wide appeal that "The Help" or "War Horse" will have.

Equal in critical acclaim is "The Descendants," Alexander Payne’s comedy-drama about a man (beautifully played by George Clooney) coming to terms with his failed marriage and family responsibilities. Payne has been a Hollywood favorite since "Sideways" and many see this as his best film. It’s also has an indie sensibility (and budget), and is a hit ($45 million to date).

And then there’s "The Help" - a huge, popular hit ($170 million to date) based on a popular book with one of the best ensemble casts of the year. The movie has a "Forrest Gump" appeal, which could be enough to put it on top this tight year.

The Golden Globes on Sunday mark the first of the major three awards (followed by the SAG and then the Oscars). The winners will have no effect on the Oscar nominations since those ballots are due in before the Globe award ceremony, but they could possibly influence their outcome in February. This is why the Globes are such a Hollywood occasion. Plus being a more informal ceremony (in a hotel ballroom in a dinner-style format), makes them looser and sometimes more fun than the Oscars.

Of course what makes them a bit unpredictable is that they are the choices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Its Wiki entry defines it this way: "The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is an organization composed of working journalists who cover the United States film industry for a variety of outlets, including newspapers and magazines in Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America. Today, the 90 members of the HFPA represent at least 55 countries and have a combined readership of more than 250 million."

They have had their controversies over the years (Pia Zadora, anyone?) with accusations that votes are bought with junkets for members. Last year the show’s host Ricky Gervais not only made fun of the Hollywood elite (an unsmiling Robert Downey Jr. was not amused), but both NBC and the HFPA as well. In the days following last year’s ceremony, the HFPA said they weren’t asking him back; but shrewder heads prevailed and Gervais will be back this Sunday to hurl insults with abandon. What will he say? Gervais tweeted: "Just told Billy Crystal he’d better not use any of my holocaust or pedophile material at the Oscars. He agreed."

As the website Hollyscoop puts it: "NBC has put the HFPA in a lose-lose situation. If the Hollywood Foreign Press says yes to Ricky, it risks turning the Globes into ’The Ricky Gervais Show’ and leaving the impression that they’re annually throwing a great party while inviting someone who humiliates all of the guests. If it says no, the HFPA looks like it has no sense of humor about itself."

So with Gervais hosting and an actually horse race in the awards, the Globes may be more fun this year.

Here are our predictions:

Best Motion Picture - Drama

"The Descendants"
"The Help"
"The Ides of March"
"War Horse"

Unlike the Oscars, the Globes break the awards up in drama and comedy categories, which makes for a wider variety of nominees. But this means "The Artist" does not compete against its likely rivals for the Oscar. Look for a George Clooney shut-out with "The Help" beating out "The Descendants" and "The Ides of March" (which Clooney directed and co-starred).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin

A tough category since every nominee is deserving. The preponderance of British journalists in the HFPA may help Meryl Streep, who seems to be more like Margaret Thatcher than Margaret Thatcher ever was in "The Iron Lady." But the movie has been oddly received, with many finding fault with the film’s portrayal of Thatcher, which may hurt Streep’s chances. The British connection may help Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, though her film is little-seen and tough-going for some. Rooney Mara carries "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," but will she win? No. The award comes down to the impeccable Glenn Close playing a man in "Albert Nobbs" and the powerful Viola Davis as a woman struggling with social change in the South during the 1960s in "The Help." It’s a toss-up, but look to Glenn Close to win.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama

George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"
Michael Fassbender, "Shame
Ryan Gosling, "The Ides of March"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Again, the British connection may help Michael Fassbender (who was also in three other movies this year) for his conflicted portrait of a sex addict in "Shame." Clooney remains a huge favorite with the HFPA and his popularity may bring him the award. DiCaprio and Gosling cross each other out, giving decent performances in so-so movies. The stars appear to aligning for Brad Pitt this year, so good as the eccentric MLB manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball." Look for Pitt to win - his second Golden Globe.


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