As usual the Hollywood Foreign Press Association delivered a mixed bag of inclusions and exclusions (sorry, Sully), but this morning’s nominations cemented one thing that was increasingly expected: La La Land, with a leading seven Golden Globe nominations, was named in every category for which it was eligible. Combine that with last night’s leading eight wins including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Damien Chazelle’s contemporary musical romance is poised to be the one to beat come Oscar time. Its front-runner status remains undiminished.
Of course, the Globes make it a lot easier by splitting things up between Drama and Musical/Comedy Picture, Actor and Actress categories. so we have to look at the Writing and Directing contenders (which combine the two) to see which movies have the real strength here, In addition to La La Land, the other two films thought to be front-runners this season, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, look to be the strongest contenders in the Best Picture -Drama race, with six and five noms, respectively, but most importantly getting named in every key category where they were expected to place. The top three contenders have been the most consistently named films of the year in the barrage of critics group nominations, and their showing with the HFPA changes none of the trajectory of the race which expects to see all of this trifecta make the grade as the more important and telling guild nominations begin on Wednesday with SAG’s announcement, where the story is expected to be largely the same.
Three key nominations for Hacksaw Ridge including Picture and Director for Mel Gibson keep that inspiring war movie strongly in the hunt as well, but scattered acting mentions for three other films that were expected to blunt criticisms against the Academy and other groups omitting films about people of color — Fences, Loving and Hidden Figures — have to be looked at as disappointing. Particularly notable is the absence of Denzel Washington’s Fences, which despite a nom for him in the Best Actor race missed expected recognition for him in Picture and Director, as well as for the late August Wilson’s screenplay. Its single Critics’ Choice win last night for Viola Davis, also nominated at the Globes in the Supporting Actress category, stalls its momentum in the Oscar race just as it prepares to open for business this Friday before going wide on Christmas Day.
Quite frankly, with the significant exception of Barry Jenkins’ much-lauded Moonlight, the 10 contenders in the Globes Best Picture races for Drama and Musical/Comedy are not exactly color blind. That said, the acting contests here — which feature six black actors including three (Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer) dominating the Supporting Actress list, is a huge improvement over the past couple of years and should continue to blunt complaints that created much controversy over the past couple of awards seasons, particularly for the Academy. These nominations plus last night’s Critics’ Choice wins for Davis and Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali in the Supporting categories are hopeful signs that this year will be a marked improvement in that regard.
As noted in our snubs post, the complete blank for Clint Eastwood’s Sully, including star Tom Hanks, and Martin Scorsese’s late-breaking passion project Silence have to be looked at as terribly disappointing for these two legendary helmers, who are big Globe favorites in the past. Perhaps the lack of screeners for Silence was a factor, though I doubt it. I had heard very mixed response from the HFPA members after their first screening, which came just two weeks ago. I can’t really explain the lack of love for Sully, though. and Warners has to be hoping Hanks will break into the SAG Best Actor race on Wednesday in order to restore some level of momentum going into balloting for Oscar nominations during the Christmas break. I don’t think this is necessarily a game ender for either film Oscar-wise, but it doesn’t help.
However, the Globes, while significant as a factor in building momentum toward Oscar success, often go their own way and have an imperfect record in predicting just which ways the Oscar winds might be blowing in any given year. Last year, you might recall, the top Globe Picture winners were The Revenant and The Martian (in comedy no less!), while Spotlight eventually took the Best Picture Oscar. Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson won at the Globes too, but Globe Supporting winners Sylvester Stallone and Kate Winslet did not. All of those Globe winners also were nominated for Oscars, though.
In terms of the major studios, Warner Bros today got only a single nomination, for War Dogs star Jonah Hill as Lead Actor in a Musical/Comedy, and Paramount, campaigning five major films, saw only Florence Foster Jenkins make any kind of big impact by landing four nominations mostly in the less competitive Musical/Comedy categories, where La La Land is almost certain to land in the winners circle. Par’s biggest Oscar hopefuls Arrival, Silence and Fences all were shut out of the key Picture, Directing and Writing races, making Lionsgate — with La La Land. Hacksaw Ridge and as distributor of CBS Films’ Hell or High Water, Best Picture nominees all — the strongest in terms of studio/distributor success. Indie A24’s nine nominations and double Picture contenders (Moonlight in Drama. 20th Century Women in Musical/Comedy) also mightily impressed.
It is interesting to note that, with the exception of Par’s Florence Foster Jenkins and Fox’s Deadpool (both in Musical/Comedy Picture), the major studios were shut out of the Globe Best Picture lists, making this a big day for the indies. And you have to hand it to Harvey Weinstein, still a master at getting what he wants and needs from the HFPA, for landing Globes love for his big awards hope Lion, with four noms including Best Picture Drama, and Sing Street, a terrific entry for Musical/Comedy Picture despite being a disappointing box office performer and almost forgotten contender this season. The two key Directing and Writing nominations handed to Tom Ford for his Hitchcock-style Focus Features’ thriller Nocturnal Animals was impressive for the designer-turned-sometimes-filmmaker on just his second movie ever, even if it did miss out on a Best Picture Drama mention. His directing nom cut out the likes of Scorsese, Washington, Eastwood, Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve and others in the category. Not bad.
So overall, despite those high-profile exclusions. the Hollywood Foreign Press confirmed where we suspected this race was already heading in terms of movies with real chances to go all the way to the Dolby stage on February 26. As for the likely Globe winners when they are handed out at the Beverly Hilton on January 8? Look for La La Land to score big, possibly with five or more victories including Musical/Comedy Picture, Actor Ryan Gosling and Actress Emma Stone. The other acting winners could imitate what happened last night at the Critics’ Choice Awards with Davis and Ali winning in Support and Manchester by the Sea’s Casey Affleck and Jackie’s Natalie Portman taking the Lead acting Globes for Drama. Portman faces strong competition, though, particularly from French star Isabelle Huppert who has been romping through most of the major critics group awards this season. And remember, this is the Hollywood Foreign Press, so she might also have a leg up here.
As for the ultimate winner in Motion Picture Drama, the race would seem to be between Moonlight and Manchester, but don’t discount Mel Gibson and Hacksaw Ridge for a possible upset here or in Director. The Drama Picture category is very fluid at the moment, and campaigning is going to be intense for that one. Gibson is the comeback story of this awards season, and we all know Hollywood loves that scenario, especially at the Golden Globes.