They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don’t They?

Golden Globes Anoint La La Land

By J. Don Birnam

January 10, 2017

Record setters.

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La La Land broke a Golden Globes record by sweeping all seven categories it was nominated for, planting itself as the prohibitive favorite to barrel through the rest of the awards season. Meryl Streep gave a political takedown speech, and the awards season started with a bang at the Globes.

Indeed, the 2017 awards season restarted with the 74th Annual Golden Globes crowning potential favorites. But the Globes have never been more than a 50/50 Oscars bellwether. Instead, they’re an excuse for some fun and for potential winners to try out acceptance speeches. So let’s take a look at what benefited and what lost during this ceremony and what it means for the Oscars.

The La La Love

La La Land, of course, was going to sweep the night. It was obvious from the beginning when the opening number was a montage of its songs. So, it was no surprise when it won back to back awards for Original Song (“City of Stars”) and Score. But even I did not see it winning that many - seven to be exact. Then, Ryan Gosling won Best Actor in a Comedy, Damien Chazelle won Best Screenplay and Best Director. By the time Emma Stone took the Actress award for the same movie, officially breaking the record, there was no doubt about the rest of the outcome. And the rest is (Golden Globes) history. The movie should now be a strong Oscar favorite - despite the lack of the SAG nomination – unless, of course, there is a backlash.

After all, movies do peak early. Ask Boyhood; ask The Social Network. None of those made it to the end. But it doesn’t seem like anything has that Oscar narrative story that can overtake it. Indeed, it is La La Land that has the amazing Oscar story. And movies about Hollywood are on a winning streak since The Artist came to the scene. But that brings me to…

Meryl’s Speech

Taking the Lifetime Achievement award, the Cecil B. DeMille, Meryl Streep came on stage and quickly talked about the painful year that 2016 was. She pointed out the diversity in the room, called on the press to protect our freedoms, and made clear criticisms of the President-Elect without naming him. Ms. Streep is a class act and is Hollywood royalty - she is untouchable even by him, one would think - and few could have pulled it off. Surely, the speech will be the second biggest headline of the night after the sweep.

Moonlight Wins Best Drama: Will it Matter?

Oh yeah and there was the “most coveted award” of the night, according to the announcer at least. The Best Drama category is normally the most prestigious - except when it’s not. The question this year was whether Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea would win. It turned out to be Moonlight. But will it matter? In years when the favorite was a musical - think The Artist, the winner of the Drama race has gone down as forgotten. Remember The Descendants? Didn’t think so. So while the win feels good - it may even repeat at SAG where La La Land is not eligible - it may not matter at all. Given the upset of this movie in the supporting acting race (see below), I was pleasantly surprised to see this happen.

Does a movie this small have a chance at the Oscars? Normally I would say no. This year, with a musical juggernaut coming to bring it all down, I’d say no way in hell.


The Opening Upset

We knew that the HFPA liked Nocturnal Animals - Tom Ford famously sent them perfume, and they gave it Director and Screenplay nods as well - but to give Aaron Taylor-Johnson the Best Supporting Actor win over prohibitive Oscar favorite Mahershala Ali in Moonlight was one of those big stunners that came out of nowhere.

To be fair, I’ve never thought Ali’s performance was the strongest in the amazing movie, but the category was weak to start. Still, not since 1976 has the winner of this category at the Globes not received at least a nomination for the Oscar so, against all odds, Hugh Grant, Dev Patel, Jeff Bridges and Mahershala may have company in that little race.

Other Acting Races

Surprising no one, Casey Affleck took Best Actor Drama for Manchester by the Sea, making him a strong leader for the Oscar. It seems hard to think that Gosling could overtake him with this moving performance.

It was much more surprising to see Isabelle Huppert win for Elle, which also won Best Foreign Language Film. The Best Actress race is now completely wide open. Can Huppert even get herself nominated for this difficult performance? With Annette Benning, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, and Emma Stone all laying claims to a nomination, it seems impossible. Can one of those actually miss out? Remember that Huppert was not even nominated for the strange SAG category - Emily Blunt is there instead (LOL). BAFTA comes out this week - if she is in there, she has a strong chance. If she misses, I would say she has a zero chance given the lack of overlap between the HFPA that gives the Globes and the Academy.

Meanwhile, Viola Davis finally won for Best Supporting Actress for Fences, which means she is well poised to eventually grab that Oscar that she has wanted but has eluded her. The rest of the category seems set for nominations, but the win is clearly hers.

The Rest

In the animated feature race, Zootopia pulled ahead in a crowded in confusing race, while France’s Elle pulled a surprise win over Germany’s Toni Erdmann for Foreign Film. But with that sexual thriller ineligible now at the Oscars (it didn’t make the final nine), it still seems Germany’s Oscar to lose.

Up Next: BAFTA Nominations and PGA nominations

Thoughts? Twitter: @jdonbirnam
Instagram: @awards_predix



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