When you watch the presentation of The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards this Sunday night, there are several things to keep in mind.
Winning a Golden Globe is by no means a guarantee of winning an Academy Award. (The past six years, only one Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture Drama has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.)
The Golden Globes are often criticized for rewarding star power over true achievement in film. (Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey and Madonna have all won Globes for acting, but are still waiting to say hello to Oscar.)
Nonetheless, the Golden Globe remains one of Hollywood’s most visible awards, and any film or performer in serious contention for Oscar doesn’t want to be overlooked. It’s like the New Hampshire primary of film awards – a win accompanied by a gracious and heartfelt acceptance speech provides an incredible “bounce” in the long and winding road to the Kodak Theatre.
With all that in mind, here is what you can expect to see happen when the Golden Globe envelopes are opened.
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
***”The King’s Speech”***
“The Social Network”
“The King’s Speech” leads the pack with seven nominations, and it’s exactly the type of grand, glorious film which the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) loves to reward. Not only does it boast fine acting and beautiful art direction, costume design and cinematography – it covers a key period of 20th century British history and feels important. The HFPA has always shown an appreciation for English costume dramas, having given best picture to films like “Atonement” and “Sense and Sensibility.” The biggest threat to the “The King’s Speech” is “The Social Network,” which many observers see as being the frontrunner for the Oscar. As excellent as “Network” is, I sense that it’s too young and edgy for the HFPA to give it the top prize. Barring a major upset, “The King’s” producers should be ready to give a speech on Golden Globe night.
BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
***Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”***
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
Mark Wahlberg, “The Fighter”
Firth has widely been seen as this year’s front-runner, long before his film was even released. The New York and Los Angeles Film Critics have both named him best actor, and he benefits greatly from the strong support for “The King’s Speech.” Dare I say it, but it seems impossible for him to lose here. As terrific as the other four nominees were, they can expect to watch as Firth is crowned with the Golden Globe – bringing him one step closer to an inevitable Oscar.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Halle Berry, “Frankie and Alice”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
***Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”***
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
Like her character in “Black Swan,” Portman faces intense competition from a group of extremely talented actresses. Fortunately, she won’t be tormented by them the same way that she was in the film. (At least I hope not.) Portman appears in virtually every scene of “Swan,” showing off her dramatic range AND her dancing abilities. Members of the HFPA seem to really like the film, giving it four nominations including best picture. With this being the only logical place to reward it, it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Portman prevailing. The only possible spoiler could be Kidman, who delivers one of her best performances to date playing a grieving mother in “Rabbit Hole.” Kidman has long been a favorite of the HFPA, who have given her three Globes to date. Still, the overall wave of support for “Swan” suggests that Portman will snag a lead actress Globe to match the supporting prize she won for 2004’s “Closer.”
BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
***“The Kids Are All Right”***
Unlike last year, when “The Hangover” was the surprise winner in a wide open race, this year is pretty much a slam dunk for “The Kids Are All Right.” The script and acting have been praised since the film’s release last summer. The film carefully moves from humorous moments to more serious ones. And it’s the only nominee in the category seen as likely to grab one of the ten slots for the Best Picture Oscar. If any other picture somehow steals this category, things will definitely not be all right.
BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Johnny Depp, “Alice in Wonderland”
Johnny Depp, “The Tourist”
Paul Giamatti, “Barney’s Version”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Love and Other Drugs”
***Kevin Spacey, “Casino Jack”***
My first inclination was to select Depp in “Alice in Wonderland,” the choice of most pundits. There’s no question that he’s a serious contender. Members of the HFPA seem to just love him, as they’ve now given him a total of ten nominations. His only win came for 2007’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the same year the show was canceled due to the writers’ strike. Since he’s never had a chance to actually a take a bow on the Golden Globe stage and personally thank the HFPA, this might be the perfect opportunity. However, there are many more factors at play. “Alice” came out almost a year ago, and Depp’s scene-stealing yet smallish role may have since faded from memory. He also faces the split-vote factor, with his second nomination in the category for “The Tourist.” Meanwhile, Spacey is dynamite as the flamboyant Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” one of his best performances ever. Spacey may have two Oscars (for 1995’s “The Usual Suspects” and 1999’s “American Beauty,”) but he has yet to win a Globe. If enough HFPA members feel that he’s overdue, he might be able to pull off an upset victory. I’ll admit that it’s a gamble, but I’ll pick Spacey as the most likely winner.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
***Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”***
Anne Hathaway, “Love and Other Drugs”
Angelina Jolie, “The Tourist”
Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”
Emma Stone, “Easy A”
Bening and Moore are two of the finest actresses of our time, making it a shame that they must go head to head for this award. Moore actually has more screen time, but it’s Bening whose character undergoes a genuine catharsis in the picture. Another longtime favorite of the HFPA, this is Bening’s sixth nomination for feature film work. Her sole win came in this same category for 2004’s “Being Julia,” and she went on to lose the Oscar (for a second time) to Hilary Swank. Her work in “Kids” has been generating Oscar buzz since the film was released last summer. If she and Portman both win on Sunday as expected, watch for a real battle between the two for the Best Actress Academy Award next month.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE
***Christian Bale, “The Fighter”***
Michael Douglas, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
It’s a race between Bale and Rush, and it could go either way. My money is on Bale. He completely disappears into his role in “The Fighter,” a film with six nominations. Since it’s likely to lose the top races, this is a good place for the HFPA to recognize it. As marvelous as Rush is in “The King’s Speech,” he’s already won two Golden Globes - for 1996’s feature film “Shine” and the 2004 TV movie “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.” Another award for him might not seem as exciting as a win for Bale. Regardless of what happens on Globe night, expect another tough fight for the Oscar – which should go right down to the wire.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
***Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”***
Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
With no clear-cut front-runner, this is by far the toughest category to call. Keep in mind that the supporting actress Globe winner has only gone on to win the Oscar about 40% of the time, making it all the more difficult to make a prediction. Leo in “The Fighter” won the New York Film Critics Award and is a strong contender, but she has a few drawbacks. She might not seem glamorous enough for the HFPA members, who are generally drawn to bigger name stars. She risks splitting votes with her nominated co-star Adams. And she might be overshadowed by the far more unsympathetic mother played by Weaver in “Animal Kingdom.” If those factors do in fact work against Leo, the beneficiary will likely be Carter. Though she has no big dramatic scenes in “The King’s Speech,” she is sublime as always. This marks her fifth Globe nomination without a win. She may also get some bonus points for her memorable turns in “Alice in Wonderland” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” It looks like Carter may be another jewel in the “King’s” crown on Golden Globe night.
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
***David Fincher, “The Social Network”***
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Unlike the Academy, the HFPA has generally been more willing to spit its picture and directing awards. This year will be a prime example of that, at least if “The King’s Speech” wins the top prize as I am expecting. The directing award seems almost certain to go to Fincher for his acclaimed work helming “The Social Network.” It’s considered a strong directorial achievement, and Fincher has already won directing honors from the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics. He was nominated two years ago for “The Curious of Case of Benjamin,” and although he lost to Danny Boyle for “Slumdog Millionaire,” he was seen by many as being the likely runner-up. HFPA members may not appreciate “The Social Network” the same way they do “The King’s Speech,” but they’ll still confirm their admiration for it with the directing award.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“How to Train Your Dragon”
***“Toy Story 3”***
In an exceptionally strong group of animated features, “Toy Story 3” looks like a shoo-in. The reviews were incredible and the ticket sales phenomenal. It’s all but guaranteed to grab one of the ten best picture slots when the Oscar nominations are announced later this month. The only way it could lose is if Globe voters want to defy expectations, throwing their support behind acclaimed French filmmaker Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist.” As tempting as that might be, I’m still betting they’ll want to play with “Toy Story 3.”