Surprise, Surprise, Surprise, as TV icon Gomer Pyle used to say all those years ago. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association never seems to be at a loss for them, but last night’s edition of the Golden Globe Awards served up one after another in both the film and especially TV categories. Mozart In The Jungle, Mr. Robot, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Show Me A Hero anyone? — aw, those crazy Globe voters love to live on the new and edgy. That was the main takeaway of the night in a season that was wide open coming into the Beverly Hilton ballroom and now seems even wider open, if that’s possible. As Harvey Weinstein walked into the show he said to me, “I just saw your predictions (on sister website Gold Derby). I guess I should turn around and go home now.”
That pretty much turned out to be the case, as no one I talked to seemed to know quite what to make of it, except that film favorites Spotlight and The Big Short were completely shut out as, if 20th Century Fox somehow managed to hack into the HFPA’s voting system and steal the night from everyone else, with significant wins for The Martian, Joy and The Revenant (which after a sterling opening weekend box office walked off with the most awards including Best Picture -Drama, Best Actor in a Drama for Leonardo DiCaprio and Best Director for Alejandro G. Iñárritu). If anything walked out of the Hilton with the Big Mo (mentum) it was the man-versus-bear film that was not expected to do quite so well. Perhaps the HFPA was making up for snubbing Iñárritu last year for Birdman, the movie that went on to win the Best Picture and Director Oscar despite being aced out of the Globes.
If anything, that oversight can be used to ease the disappointment for the films that went home empty-handed, that also included Carol, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Danish Girl. This is just the beginning, folks, of a very long road of winning and losing. Get used to it. It’s going to be a bumpy ride in this increasingly unpredictable season. In fact, one person in the know predicted that after Thursday’s Oscar nominations, “there are going to be a LOT of very disappointed people.” I had heard Spotlight was planning to throw an impromptu party at the Peninsula Hotel across the street had they won. Didn’t happen. But there’s lots of time for a rebound. Everyone’s in this one and my guess is advertising will go through the roof in the second phase since there are so many viable possible winners, with no obvious front runner at the moment.
Some of the winners were shell shocked. I ran into Aaron Sorkin in the back of the ballroom shortly after he won and, holding his Best Screenplay Globe in hand, he still couldn’t quite believe he triumphed for Steve Jobs, a box office underachiever. “It’s nice to know the names of the people who saw my movie,” he joked. “I’m stunned. In fact I was still getting over the shock of Kate Winslet winning for Supporting Actress, and now this.”
Sure, there were expected winners like DiCaprio, Room’s Brie Larson, Inside Out for animated feature, Matt Damon for Comedy Actor in The Martian, Son Of Saul for Foreign Language Film, but even Ridley Scott, somewhat shockingly overlooked for Best Director in favor of Iñárritu seemed surprised at his own Martian win in the Best Musical or Comedy category. “We’re a comedy?” he asked me as he passed through the packed Fox after-party, definitely the place to be if you wanted to be with winners. 20th Chairman Jim Gianopulos, while lapping up the congratulations, seemed a little surprised himself at the way it all came out — but he wasn’t complaining. As a governor of the Academy, however, he knows there is a lot of this story still to be told. Still he has been on a roll the last few years with Best Picture wins for Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave and Birdman, both also from New Regency which produced Revenant. It seems unlikely that they can pull off three in a row, but that rare record could be achieved if Revenant can ride this wave.
I asked Gianopulos if he knew who the last director was to win back-to-back Oscars, but answered it for him right away. It was Joseph L. Mankiewicz for another couple of Fox movies, A Letter To Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950). Could history repeat itself for the studio with Iñárritu? I actually ran into the director in the men’s room just before the Directing category came up and congratulated him on the great box office his film got over the weekend. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by it, easily the biggest opening of his career. “It’s so gratifying that people seem to be embracing the movie,” he told me, not having a clue the HFPA was just about to embrace him. Last year it took the Producers Guild Awards to really put his Birdman on the path to Oscar, and so it might be best to wait for the Guilds and the Oscar nominations to really get a sense of where everything is going, but Iñárritu has to be pleased. My guess is Scott is still the front runner for the directing Oscar, if only out of sentiment alone, not to mention people seem to love The Martian. Ironically Scott’s Gladiator won the Best Picture – Drama award in 2000, but Scott lost the Directing Globe to Ang Lee. The Martian win as a producer reps Scott’s first personal Globe win as he wasn’t a producer when Gladiator won its Globe. The same situation applied in the Oscars that year when Gladiator won Picture but Scott lost to Steven Soderbergh for Best Director.
Many, myself included, also thought Fox’s Joy might be an also ran as its star Jennifer Lawrence had already won two Globes and Amy Schumer was a favorite for Trainwreck. But the awards Gods continued to shine on Fox with her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy win. You would have thought director David O. Russell had won it himself. “I just am so happy about this, for Jennifer, and for the film. I feel it validates us,” he told me at the Fox party. Some critics had been gunning for Russell, whose previous three films all were major awards players. He thinks Joy will be appreciated much more as time goes on — and he’s probably right. With Russell, Iñárritu and Scott, Fox had three very winning directors on hand getting big congrats at their party. Throw in wins for Lady Gaga in FX’s American Horror Story and Taraji P. Henson in the Fox Network’s monster hit Empire and this was a company that was on fire this Globes night.
So what does it all mean? Oddly if I had to make a prediction (and keep in mind my predictions weren’t all that for these Globes) I would say this year’s lineup of Golden Globe winners might just turn out to be the least predictive of any Globe show in years. Or not. More than anything this season has been a constant riddle. With DGA nominations on Tuesday, Oscar nods on Thursday and the next stop on the banquet circuit at the Critics Choice Awards next Sunday, whatever momentum was created by the Globes could quickly dissipate. It’s that kind of year. The one certainty is that after last night, Sylvester Stallone seems to be an unbeatable sentimental favorite to take the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (assuming he gets nominated first). The standing ovation he received in that room was the most genuine moment of the evening. It was his first Globe having only been previously nominated in 1976 for the original Rocky. Has there been anyone reprising a character 40 years later to win an Oscar? What an irresistible scenario this is turning out to be. It was a little awkward when he seemed to finish his acceptance speech without thanking Ryan Coogle , the young director who truly made this moment all possible for him. The TV cameras were cut and at home audiences didn’t see the quick return of Stallone to the mike to sincerely thank and acknowledge Coogler as well as star Michael B. Jordan. He seemed mortified he had briefly forgotten.
Oddly this show likely won’t be remembered for the many upsets, Ricky Gervais jabs (hit and miss this time out) or special show moments like Jon Hamm and Stallone’s wins. Nor will it be remembered for the numerous bleeps (from inside the ballroom it was hard to make out a lot of them since this is a notoriously transient and restless audience and you can’t hear half of what is going on onstage). No, it will be the unprecedented snafu in the Century City parking garage where a reported 3,000-plus Globe partygoers waited up to three hours to get a shuttle (with only about 25 seats in each) to drive them into the Hilton so they could attend the after-parties. Once they finally got to those parties all they could talk about was this ordeal. Organizers changed everything from the way it has been for years, due to security issues, and according to everyone I talked to, including studio publicists, it was a complete disaster. And celebrities weren’t spared either, stuck in the same crowd with everyone else. Don’t expect to see a repeat of this fiasco next year. One wag called the whole thing Occupy Golden Globes.