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.

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical

"The Artist"
"Midnight in Paris"
"My Week With Marilyn"

Will the HFPA be true to its membership and give the award to the only French entry in the bunch? Everyone loves "The Artist," so expect it to win, though Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris" could easily sneak in and take the award.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical

Jodie Foster, "Carnage
Charlize Theron, "Young Adult"
Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"
Kate Winslet, "Carnage"

Foster and Winslet cancel each other out, this leaves Theron, so perfectly loathsome as the self-absorbed writer in "Young Adult." She may be too loathsome to win. This leaves the award between the appealing and funny Wiig and the touching Williams. Recreating Hollywood royalty will trump in this category as Michelle Williams will win.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "50/50"
Ryan Gosling, "Crazy, Stupid, Love."
Owen Wilson, "Midnight in Paris"

We like Wilson. We like Gordon-Levitt. And we love Gosling, but none are strong enough to win this category. (Though Gordon-Levitt comes close as the cancer victim in the affecting "50/50"). Gleeson is the dark horse in this category in the little-seen, but widely-hailed dark Irish comedy "The Guard," but it is doubtful he’ll beat Jean Dujardin, whose enormous comic skill elevates "The Artist" to art.

Best Animated Feature Film

"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Arthur Christmas"
"Cars 2"
"Puss in Boots"

Steven Spielberg will likely be passed over for "War Horse," but look for him to win for his 3D epic "The Adventures of Tintin," which marks a return to his Indiana Jones-style. "Rango" has an outside chance of winning, though.

Best Foreign Language Film

"The Flowers of War" (China)
"In the Land of Blood and Honey" (USA)
"The Kid With a Bike" (Belgium)
"A Separation" (Iran)
"The Skin I Live In" (Spain)

There’s star power at play in this category. Antonio Banderas gave an outstanding performance as a driven plastic surgeon in "The Skin I Live In," Pedro Almodóvar’s creepily effective horror movie. And Angelina Jolie co-wrote and directed "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a political drama set during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. "The Flowers of War" is a sprawling Chinese epic with Hollywood star power: Christian Bale in the lead. It was the top-grossing film in China last year, though critical reception in the U.S. has been less than great. Yet despite this star-power, look for the choice to be between the harrowing Iranian domestic drama "A Separation" and the Belgian drama "The Kid With a Bike." That the Belgians did not enter "The Kid with a Bike," which won the Grand Prize at Cannes this past year, as their entry into the Oscars, may give the film a heads-up in this category. But look for "A Separation" to take home the Globe.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Another tough category with worthy nominees. Woodley makes a remarkable debut in "The Descendants," Bejo is radiant in "The Artist" and McTeer nearly steals "Albert Nobbs." Logic suggests Chastain and Spencer will cancel each other out, but Octavia Spencer gives such a indelible performance in "The Help" that the award will be hers.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Viggo Mortensen, "A Dangerous Method"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

That British thing may help Kenneth Branagh, who is fussy and quite funny impersonating Laurence Olivier in "My Week With Marilyn." That said, he has formidable competition form the other nominees: Jonah Hill plays geeky number-cruncher to perfection in "Moneyball," Viggo Mortensen makes an avuncular Sigmund Freud in "A Dangerous Method" and Albert Brooks is chilling as the gangster in "Drive." But Christopher Plummer will win for his endearing performance as an elderly man who comes out of the closet at 75.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
George Clooney, "The Ides of March"
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

Woody Allen has his biggest commercial success with "Midnight in Paris," but he has a better chance for winning in the screenplay category. Clooney is a surprise nominee, mainly because he doesn’t really belong, but HFPA loves him. Not enough, though, for him to win. Payne does a lovely job with "The Descendants," but... No, the award comes down to the directors of two films about the early days of movies: Hazanavicius for his clever recreation of a silent movie in "The Artist" and Martin Scorsese’s wondrous "Hugo," by far the best use of 3D yet seen in the movies. Martin Scorsese wins by a hair.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon - "The Ides of March"
Michel Hazanavicius - "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - "The Descendants"
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin - "Moneyball"

Again, George Clooney’s celebrity is the main reason why his overheated "The Ides of March" got a nod (over better films such as "Margin Call"). Whatever. The other four choices each have their virtues, but look for the award to come down to a choice between the behind-the-scenes look at baseball ("Moneyball") and Woody Allen’s reverie about Paris ("Midnight in Paris"). Woody Allen will win.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Ludovic Bource - "The Artist"
Abel Korzeniowski - "W.E."
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross - "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Howard Shore - "Hugo"
John Williams - "War Horse"

Having yet to see Madonna’s "W.E.," it is difficult to assess its possibilities. That said, it is up against some stiff competition. John Williams gorgeous music for "War Horse" is old Hollywood at its best; and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s music for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" adds immeasurably to the success of that film. As with best director, the choice comes down to between "The Artist" and "Hugo." As evocative as Howard Shore’s score is for "Hugo," look for Ludovic Bource (with apologies to Bernard Herrmann) to win for "The Artist."

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

"Hello Hello" - "Gnomeo & Juliet," music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin
"The Keeper"- "Machine Gun Preacher," music and lyrics by Chris Cornell
"Lay Your Head Down" - "Albert Nobbs," music by Brian Byrne, lyrics by Glenn Close
"The Living Proof" - "The Help"; music by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman, Harvey Mason Jr.; lyrics by Mary J. Blige, Harvey Mason Jr., Damon Thomas
"Masterpiece" - W.E., music and lyrics by Madonna, Julie Frost, Jimmy Harry

Pop music heavy-weights competing here. "The Living Proof" from "The Help" will win.

Best Television Series - Drama

"American Horror Story"
"Boardwalk Empire"
"Game of Thrones"

Another category with worthy nominees. "Boss" has been well-received, but was little-seen and is the least likely to win. "Game of Thrones" has partisans, but is overshadowed by the other HBO nominee "Boardwalk Empire." "American Horror Story" came out of nowhere and became a television sensation. Like "Dexter" before it, it may just be too bizarre to take home the award. This leaves the winner between Showtime’s "Homeland" and HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire." "Homeland" got the best reviews of any series this fall and it has its avid fans, but "Boardwalk Empire" has become the new kingpin on HBO. Look for it to win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama

Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Mireille Enos, "The Killing"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Madeleine Stowe, "Revenge"
Callie Thorne, "Necessary Roughness"

Part of the reason "Homeland" has been well received is Claire Danes performance as the bi-polar, dedicated CIA agent out to expose a terrorist in the person of a war hero.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama

Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Kelsey Grammer, "Boss"
Jeremy Irons, "The Borgias"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"

Damian Lewis is another reason why "Homeland" is so good, but don’t look for him to win. Ditto for Kelsey Grammer, cast against type in "Boss" as a big city mayor and Jeremy Irons in "The Borgias." The award will likely come down to Steve Buscemi for "Boardwalk Empire" and Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad." Oddly, though he’s won three Emmy Awards, Cranston has yet to take home a Globe. He won’t again this year - Steve Buscemi will.

Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical

"Modern Family"
"New Girl"

If there’s an award that’s a no-brainer, it is this one: "Modern Family."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical

Laura Dern, "Enlightened"
Zooey Deschanel, "New Girl"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Laura Linney, "The Big C"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

Zooey Deschanel is the new ’it’ girl for "New Girl," while veterans Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") and Tina Fey ("30 Rock") are solid stand-bys. But the award will likely go to an actress in shows with more dramatic weight. Laura Linney ("The Big C") and Laura Dern ("Enlightened"), both playing characters going through huge emotional shifts. Laura Dern is simply amazing. Look for her to win.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
David Duchovny, "Californication"
Johnny Galecki, "The Big Bang Theory"
Thomas Jane, "Hung"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"

By far the most ho-hum category. Thomas Jane might win, especially since "Hung" was recently cancelled, but Alec Baldwin continues to dominate in this category.

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

"Cinema Verite"
"Downton Abbey"
"The Hour"
"Mildred Pierce"
"Too Big to Fail"

It comes down to HBO vs. PBS in this category, each with formidable nominees. HBO’s "Cinema Verite" looked back at the roots of reality television with a look at the Loud family (the subjects of PBS’s "An American Family"). Another HBO movie, the impressive "Too Big to Fail" recreated the financial meltdown of 2008, but required constant googling to get through. Their third nominee "Mildred Pierce" painstakingly recreated the James Cain novel made famous by the Joan Crawford movie. Too painstakingly for a lot of tastes. PBS’s choices are their 1950s political drama "The Hour," which many have called a British "Mad Men;" and Downton Abbey, a reworking of the "Upstairs/Downstairs" formula that worked so well for them in the past. It will continue to do so and will take home the Golden Globe.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Romola Garai, "The Hour"
Diane Lane, "Cinema Verite"
Elizabeth McGovern, "Downton Abbey" (Masterpiece)
Emily Watson, "Appropriate Adult"
Kate Winslet, "Mildred Pierce"

Given the breadth and quality of her performance, Kate Winslet will win for "Mildred Pierce." Deservingly so.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Hugh Bonneville, "Downtown Abbey" (Masterpiece)
Idris Elba, "Luther"
William Hurt, "Too Big to Fail"
Bill Nighy, "Page Eight" (Masterpiece)
Dominic West, "The Hour"

The British connection is evident in this category with just one American, William Hurt for HBO’s "Too Big to Fail," nominated. Idris Elba gets the nod for a British procedural that got a mixed response in England, Hugh Bonneville is riding the coattails of "Downton Abbey’s" success and Bill Nighy (a previous Globe winner) gets a nom for starring in the prestigious (David Hare wrote and directed) espionage drama "Page Eight." The likely winner will be Dominic West for the period political drama "The Hour."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"
Kelly MacDonald, "Boardwalk Empire"
Maggie Smith, "Downtown Abbey" (Masterpiece)
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Evan Rachel Wood, "Mildred Pierce"

Will comedy win out over drama? Will British acting royalty win out over American? And could a stunning performance sneak in and win? Kelly MacDonald is quite remarkable in "Boardwalk Empire," Sofia Vergara is quite funny in "Modern Family," and Maggie Smith is, well, Maggie Smith in "Downtown Abbey." This award, though, comes down to two American actresses: Evan Rachel Wood as Mildred Pierce’s ungrateful daughter in that HBO mini-series and Jessica Lange as the gatekeeper to a haunted house in "American Horror Story." If Jessica Lange doesn’t win for her Tennessee Williams-inspired character, there should be a recount.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"
Paul Giamatti, "Too Big to Fail"
Guy Pearce, "Mildred Pierce"
Tim Robbins, "Cinema Verite"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Some big names here - Paul Giamatti, Tim Robbins and Guy Pearce. But look for the award to come down to a pair of Emmy winners: Peter Dinklage for "Game of Thrones" and Eric Stonestreet for "Modern Family." We like Stonestreet, but Peter Dinklage will win.

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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