Oscar 2012: Golden Globes Wrap-Up
By Tom Houseman
January 17, 2012
Those of you who follow my every move will remember that, in an earlier article, I compared the awards precursors to the primary election process. That is an apt comparison in light of both this year's Oscar race and this year's Republican primary, as the two share some similarities. In both races there is one frontrunner, but it is one with such obvious weaknesses that everyone is spending all of their time trying to figure out what is going to beat it. Yes, The Artist is this year's Mitt Romney, and with every precursor people following the race are looking for another film to build enough momentum to take it down.
The Golden Globes could have been the place for that to happen, as either The Descendants or Hugo could have taken the awards by storm and put themselves forward as the film to dethrone The Artist. However, with The Artist a sure thing to win Best Picture -Comedy, one of the dramas would need a very strong showing to challenge the silent film's frontrunner status. I have mentioned that the Globes can go either way on block voting; sometimes one film can dominate the awards, and other times a number of films can each walk away with a door prize.
This year is an example of the latter, as the only two films that walked away with more than one win were the Best Picture winners, The Artist and The Descendants. Pretty much all of the other Best Picture heavyweights got their moment, with Hugo winning Best Director, The Help winning Best Supporting Actress, and Midnight in Paris taking Best Screenplay. Moneyball and War Horse went home empty handed, which is only a soft blow, as neither are really considered viable Best Picture winners.
What the Golden Globes did this year, as they are wont to do, is confirm the frontrunner status of everyone who is expected to win. Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer won their races, as they were expected to. Michelle Williams and Juan Dujardin, playing in the junior varsity league of the Musical/Comedy categories, each won, as they were expected to. The HFPA could have shaken things up by awarding Brad Pitt or Viola Davis in the lead acting drama categories, but instead they went for the safe choices. George Clooney and Meryl Streep are now more comfortably seated in the front of the pack, but either could still be taken down, Clooney by Pitt or Dujardin, Streep by Davis or Williams, if the whims of the Academy are different from those of the HFPA.
The only categories that were genuine surprises were Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Rango was cruising up until Sunday night when it suddenly hit a pothole in the form of The Adventures of Tintin. That category has suddenly become much more interesting, especially with the only other serious precursor for animated films being the Annie awards, which are not terribly reliable as Oscar predictors. As for Best Song, that answered nothing, as the winner was a song from Madonna's W.E. which isn't eligible for the Oscar. Thanks for that one, HFPA.
And in the Best Picture - Drama race there was no safe choice, so the HFPA tried to hedge their bets. Had Hugo won Best Picture - Drama on top of its win over The Artist for Best Director, you could now point to it as the film that could beat The Artist. But it didn't. Had The Descendants won Best Director, or even Best Screenplay, to build on its Best Picture and Best Actor wins, you could declare the only dog who could give Uggie a run for his adorable money. But it didn't. Now both films are fighting it out for second, with The Help and Midnight in Paris still in their rearview mirrors, and The Artist comfortably in first, kicking its black-and-white dust into the faces of the also-rans.
It is now up to the Guilds to answer the big questions for us. With a wave of support The Descendants, Hugo, or even The Help, could overtake The Artist. Remember that at this point last year The Social Network was leagues beyond The King's Speech, but the guilds turned the tide quickly. We are still at the point where, for better or worse, anything can happen.