Here is what this morning’s Golden Globes nominations tell us about momentum this awards season and Oscar chances:
After a very slow start with critics groups, Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water is the real deal, gaining a leading seven Globes nominations in every category in which it had a chance. This comes on top of its leading 14 nominations in last week’s Critics’ Choice Awards. It is definitely a strong contender to keep up the heat at this point.
Similarly, Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also scored in every category it needed for Picture (Drama), Director, Screenplay, Actress and Supporting Actor. It is a very strong showing after getting all those same noms from Critics’ Choice. Adding in nominations in Comedy/Musical acting for Battle of the Sexes, Fox Searchlight had a very good day, with a leading 15 nominations. Its parent company 20th Century Fox got 12, making the Pico lot the 800-lb. gorilla of the Golden Globes this year (you can even throw in those big eight nominations on the TV side for FX).
And speaking of big Fox, Steven Spielberg’s The Post scored a very impressive six nominations in every key category to cement its status as a major player this season. And with three nominations for its Comedy/Musical The Greatest Showman and two for the animated Ferdinand, Fox is in the enviable position this holiday season of being about to open every single one of its December films with major Globe attention to tout.
Although Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman got shut out — dealing a blow for getting a comic book movie in the Best Picture Oscar race — shed no tears for Warner Bros. which nailed Picture (Drama), Director for Christopher Nolan and Music Score nominations to stay in the game after eight noms last week from Critics’ Choice.
And here’s some really big news out today’s Globe noms for Sony, which proved if you suck up to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by showing your movie to them, and only them, you can reap some rewards. This was a highly unusual case with Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, the film that, in an unprecedented move, went back into production in November to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer. The film was still shooting just two weeks ago, but just at the voting deadline Sony and its TriStar label agreed to screen a very wet rough cut of the movie for HFPA members in NY and LA last Monday morning and obviously enough of them saw it to result in three nominations. The completed film doesn’t even have its first screenings for everyone else until this coming weekend and at its world premiere next Monday, but the special attention for Globes voters shows their importance in the scheme of awards-season strategy and resulted in three nominations: Director for Scott (probably just for pulling this feat off at age 80), Supporting Actor Plummer (turning 88 on Wednesday) and Actress in a Drama for Michelle Williams, the latter very impressive since that race is so crowded this year. All the Money in the Budget paid off for the Culver City lot and its Hail Mary pass at saving this Christmas Day release. It could make things very interesting come January 7, when the Globe winners are revealed.
I would say at the very least Plummer becomes a real threat. There was universal praise for his performance from HFPA members I talked to at various events in the past few days. Plummer’s nomination has to be eligible for the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest for an actor from getting signed for the role to announcement of nomination (Deadline sprang the news November 8). This is all we will hear about the film awards-wise until Oscar nominations because members of SAG (which reveals its nominations Wednesday) were unable to see the film in time for consideration as its balloting has been open since even before the film went back into production to shoot Plummer’s scenes.
Also from the Sony stable, Sony Pictures Classics juggernaut Call Me by Your Name did very well with three nominations including Best Picture (Drama) but missed out in the all-important directing and writing categories, which could mean trouble for its chances to actually pull off a win here. The same goes for Universal’s Get Out, which is spending a boatload of money to Get In the race despite a February opening. It got controversial nominations for Picture and Actor (Daniel Kaluuya) in the Comedy/Musical categories, despite many feeling it belonged in Drama. But in the end, Universal might have been shrewdly correct in placing it in the less crowded Comedy category, as evidenced by the fact that writer-director Jordan Peele did not score a nomination in either Director or Screenplay, categories that are open to both dramas and comedies together and were dominated by the drama entries (save Greta Gerwig’s lone writing nomination for Lady Bird, though she missed out on Director as did every other female contender this year).
James Franco’s The Disaster Artist and Neon/30WEST’s I, Tonya were offbeat biopics that scored nicely at the Globes since they more easily could be labeled as comedies, but Lady Bird looks like the one to beat in that category, while Best Picture Drama looks to be a real horse race.
It would have been a huge snub if Gary Oldman had not received his first-ever Globe nomination as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, even considering negative comments he has made about HFPA members in the past (“It’s 90 nobodies having a wank … a meaningless event,” he told Playboy in 2014). However, I am told his press conference with the members went very well this year, so that might be water under the bridge. But it likely is not pleasing Focus Features that his was the only nomination the film — its biggest hope this year — received. As for a win in the Actor (Drama) category, he faces tough competition from Tom Hanks and Timothée Chalmette, who both are in Best Picture contenders, and from Daniel Day-Lewis in another Focus film, Phantom Thread, since the star has said this is his last film. Denzel Washington got nominated for Roman J. Israel, Esq., but that, like Oldman’s nomination, came as the only one for his movie.
The biggest losers of the morning on the film side, though, are the so-called streamers, which are spending big bucks to get significant nominations this year. Netflix is trying to break through in a big way with Mudbound, The Meyerowitz Stories, First They Killed My Father and Okja (even sending a stuffed pig to voters), but other than a couple of noms in Supporting Actress and Song for Mudbound’s Mary J. Blige and an expected Foreign Language Film nom for Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian First They Killed My Father (Globe voters never ignore Angie, even for The Tourist), they were left at the altar. Not even a Comedy Actor nom for Adam Sandler’s acclaimed work in Meyerowitz.
More surprisingly, Amazon Studios was completely shut out for its films including The Big Sick, which was thought to be a shoo-in in the Comedy/Musical categories at the very least but got not a single mention, not even for star Kumail Nanjiani, who is from Pakistan, which you might think would have been a big plus with the foreign press. Both services will have to be content with stronger showings on the TV side, but this isn’t a good omen for Oscar chances, though certainly not a fatal blow yet since both Big Sick and Mudbound did score some significant nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards. In the case of The Big Sick, Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos opened up his Beverly Hills mansion for a very starry and Oscar voter-heavy party Saturday night to honor the movie (Barbra Streisand even showed up), and Norman Lear will be hosting another one tonight in West Hollywood. Nanjiani is ever-present this season (he was even one of the few contenders to show up Friday at Paramount for the HFPA Christmas party and sneak peek of its Golden Globe 75th anniversary special airing this Wednesday). That could pay off later at the Oscars, even if it didn’t for the Globes. Awards season is a long and winding road.
Overall, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association avoided any glaring embarrassments and stuck largely to names we expected to see nominated. What today’s results do indicate is that this is perhaps the most wide-open Oscar season in many moons. The Globes air Sunday, January 7, on NBC — an early date that means Academy Award nomination ballots will have been out only a couple of days and that could mean more influence than ever Oscar-wise. Or not. The Globes and the Oscars do not always match up, but their visibility at a key point in the process is undeniable.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.