If you are looking for any tea leaves or clues from last night’s Golden Globes in terms of what it means for Oscars, the answer is simple. This is, has been, and continues to be a wide open race in many ways. Expect many twists and turns to come, and don’t count anyone out quite yet.
Big winners including audience favorite Green Book (Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Screenplay, Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali) and critics darling Roma (Director for Alfonso Cuarón, Foreign Language film) did exactly what they had to do to continue and/or gain momentum, the key ingredient needed on the road to Oscar. The other big winner, Bohemian Rhapsody, was a stunner to most, but not if you talk to actual Globe voters as I did and discovered not only that star Rami Malek was the overwhelming choice for Best Actor in a Drama (“the only person I can recall who ever got a standing ovation from us when he walked in the room to do our press conference,” one HFPA member told me last month), but also that they voted their heart and passion in also awarding it Best Motion Picture Drama, rather than perhaps putting their lot in with what movie pundits told them they would choose.
That film of course was A Star Is Born, which took only Best Song for “Shallow” out of five nominations that included what many thought was a lock (at least with presumed star-struck Globes voters) for Lady Gaga in the Drama Actress category. When she lost to The Wife’s Glenn Close, I turned to the person sitting next to me at table 316 in the Beverly Hilton ballroom and said, “that’s it. This means Bohemian is getting Picture” — something one HFPA member sitting near us kept saying all night.
Like the worldwide moviegoing audience that has made it the biggest rock biopic of all time with three quarters of a billion dollars and counting, the Globes loved Bohemian Rhapsody and critics be damned. The same goes for Green Book, for which I kept hearing “the members really love it” when I would ask which ways the Globe winds might be blowing. The latter’s key competition in the Comedy/Musical category, Vice and The Favourite, were relegated to one acting award each, and Mary Poppins Returns and Crazy Rich Asians were shut out completely. This is a big boost for Green Book, which will also collect its Best Picture prize from the National Board of Review tomorrow night in New York and picked up a WGA nomination today for Original Screenplay. However, a DGA nomination tomorrow , and some BAFTA love Wednesday, along with a good showing at next Sunday’s Critics’ Choice Awards, will be key to continuing the big ‘mo it got from the Globes.
As for early frontrunner A Star Is Born, it only lost the chance to become inevitable with its poor showing at the Globes, but as Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow is another day,” and that has turned out to be prescient in this case as Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut scored nominations from all four guilds who announced this morning — Art Directors, Cinematographers, Editors, and WGA — a very good sign since guilds are a more reliable indicator of industry sentiment (most Oscar voters are a member of one or the other of them). It is way too early to write its obituary and overstate the meaning of the GG snub. One Warners exec waiting for their Uber ride pointed to the Bohemian win and asked, “This is just a one-off, right?” Could be. Bohemian didn’t make all of those guild nomination lists today (it is in with ACE and ADG), and don’t hold your breath waiting to hear Bryan Singer’s name called tomorrow when the DGA choices are revealed. Still, its SAG Cast nod and Producers Guild nomination, now coupled with its Globe victory along with general buzz I have been hearing from Motion Picture Academy rank and file, make it a likely Best Picture nominee when Oscar noms are announced in a couple of weeks (voting opens today).
“What a way to go out,” 20th Century Fox chairman Stacey Snider told me as she entered the swinging Fox after-party on the fourth-floor rooftop deck of the Hilton. Of course she was referring to Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody win in the shadow of the studio’s takeover by Disney (the Mouse House’s Marvel entry, Black Panther, was one of the defeated in the same category). Fox execs were understandably thrilled, and seemed to be just as surprised as prognosticators.
Producer Graham King, who labored for more than a decade on this celebration of Queen and dealt with a chaotic shoot and the firing of Singer during production, had earlier hobbled into the Hilton Ballroom still recovering from knee surgery when I caught up with him and predicted a Malek victory. He agreed, but felt the picture would be a much longer shot. “They have a lot of love for your movie, so you never know,” I suggested, and clearly this triumph against a mixed critical reception (62% at Rotten Tomatoes) was about as sweet as it gets. It certainly eased the pain of that surgery recovery, which he said was harder than he thought it would be.
The sweetness of the Bohemian Rhapsody victory was also evident when I talked to producer James “Miami” Beach, who was the one who held the rights to the Queen music that made the film possible. He mentioned the downside of some of the critics’ barbs but is happy with the film as is and always had faith in its authenticity, as did original Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor who were taking congratulations and high-fives in a corner of the Fox party and told me they were thrilled. “I am very proud of this film. It’s our story,” May told me as he vouched for the truth of what was on the screen.
With the Disney merger this might have been the last Fox party at the Globes, and on the movie side they are usually all about the latest victory from Fox Searchlight, not Big Fox, but this year the roles were reversed with Searchlight only able to cash in on one of its eight nominations, for The Favourite’s wonderful Olivia Colman as Best Actress – Musical or Comedy. Her win sets up an increasingly interesting Best Actress Oscar race — especially since Glenn Close, the winner of the Drama Actress Globe, not only upset Gaga but got the chance to make an acceptance speech that killed in the room, drawing a rare three-pronged standing ovation at the start, middle and close of it. The Globes are one precursor show that can really make a difference in that way, and Close simply knocked it out of the park in describing the journey for her film (“It is called The Wife, so maybe that is why it took 14 years to get it made”), and for all women. She has been nominated six times for Oscars, but has never won (this was her third Globe win but first on the movie side). If she loses a seventh time she will own the statistic for the most losses without a win for any actress. Her Globe moment may have helped in avoiding that fate, and at the very least has guaranteed that it should be a hell of a race in a sterling year for both lead and supporting performances in the actress categories. With the likes of Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Emily Blunt and more hot on their heels, it will be fun to watch how this all plays out.
(By the way, there was a cool moment on the show right as Close walked up to the stage and stopped to get a congratulatory kiss from Michael Douglas, a winner earlier in the evening for his series The Kominsky Method. Think of it as a little sequel to Fatal Attraction.)
There was so many after-party opportunities, but following the Fox shindig I made my way over to the Waldorf Astoria next door, where NBCUniversal was holding court and the Green Book crowd was hoisting its many statuettes (the newly redesigned award is heavier than the Oscar now). Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Mahershala Ali, and executive producer Octavia Spencer were in the party mood, as were Universal and Participant Media executives in the room. This was a big boost to be sure for this deeply human film that Farrelly calls a “uniter,” and boy is that ever welcome in these dark times. The film has so far grossed about $35 million and is currently on around 500 screens or so, but ever since its Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice award and A+ Cinemascore, it is clear there is a lot of juice left which Universal plans to capitalize on in an expansion that likely will happen this Friday — then it will be at its widest point January 25 right after Oscar nominations. “Sometimes the good guys win,” one partygoer said about the Golden Green Book haul, the most Globes for any film on the night.
Universal also picked up the Original Score Globe for First Man, composed by Justin Hurwitz, who won a couple of them two years ago for La La Land (he also won at the Oscars), making him 3-for-3. I caught up with him at the Netflix party where he told me he has added some furniture to his apartment which previously had only a bed and a piano. Success is allowing him to splurge, I guess. It was going to be the model for Ryan Gosling’s place in La La Land until the actor visited and said it was just too sparse.
By the way, Participant Media was also repped at that Netflix party because, in addition to Green Book, it also backed Roma, which was celebrating its Director and Foreign wins late into the night at the streamer’s bash located across the driveway on Merv Griffin Way. This was a major moment for Netflix which not only won their first-ever Globe wins for theatrical movies, but also TV victories with Bodyguard’s Richard Madden and Comedy Series The Kominsky Method. Ted Sarandos was understandably beaming throughout the show, and the party was still going strong even after most of the others were slowing down. It was reminiscent of the days when The Weinstein Company had the same space and always was a hot party destination, win or lose. Looks like Netflix may be taking on that mantle.
As for those Roma wins, they are significant. Due to Globes rules it was ineligible in the marquee Picture races since it was in Foreign Film. Winning the latter and director puts it right in the mix where it is expected to be. It too is getting all the key guild noms (except SAG) to continue to make it formidable in a quest to become not only the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, but the first Netflix movie to get a nomination in the category. You can bet all your household help that Netflix will continue its extraordinary spend to make this happen.
So the Globes are now behind us, but in reality this contest is just as fluid as it was before we walked into that Hilton ballroom last night. It was just Round 1 of the playoffs and there are a lot of games to go. This is a marathon. As Spike Lee, whose BlacKkKlansman went 0-for-4 last night, was leaving the NBCUniversal party, he caught my eye and said, “Onward,” pointing his finger to indicate there is still much that will happen.
Fasten your seatbelts.