Trophy Talk

What this Year's Surprise-Filled Golden Globes Mean for the Oscars

Bohemian Rhapsody may be the champion for now, but it won't last, while the Best Picture race remains wide open

by | January 8, 2019 | Comments

On Sunday night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) handed out the 2019 Golden Globes and, as is often the case with the Golden Globes, they delivered some surprises. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody, Glenn Close, and Green Book didn’t walk into the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night favored to win, but each walked out with a Globe statuette.  Check out our recap of the best moments from the ceremony here.

Owing to its position on the calendar and ability to host a star-studded awards ceremony, the Globes are often looked at as a measuring stick for awards season. But with such a small voting body it’s unwise to put too much faith in the Globes results as a predictor of Oscar winners or nominations. No slight on the HFPA, but a group of 90 international film journalist cannot be expected to predict the voting habits of 7,258 industry professionals. Since the Academy expanded the Best Picture category to include up to 10 nominees in 2009, only 59% of Golden Globe Best Picture nominees have earned Oscar nominations.

Looked at more closely, it can seem that the Golden Globes are more a reaction point than any sort of clear indicator. A snub by the HFPA can spark indignation that helps, or damages, a film or performer’s Oscar chances. Last year Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri won the GG for Best Drama and the backlash that was already brewing to that film finally bubbled over, likely turning some Oscar voters toward Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which later won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The same could be said for La La Land vs. Moonlight in 2016; Moonlight won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, but was shut out in all the other categories – snubs that only added supporters to its bandwagon come Oscar time.

With all this in mind, what do Sunday night’s wins and losses mean for this year’s awards landscape?

A Star Dims, But Only Somewhat

(L-R) BRADLEY COOPER as Jack and LADY GAGA as Ally in the drama "A STAR IS BORN," from Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Live Nation Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by @ Warner Bros. )

A Star Is Born has fizzled but not completely faded; save the win for Best Song, the film was shut out of many awards, notably Best Actress – Drama for Lady Gaga. It’s not out of what is still a very wide-open Best Picture race, but it needs some wins. Look to this weekend’s Critics Choice awards for added momentum, but if Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper fall short again then the movie’s chances of big Oscar wins will be… er, shallower.

Best Supporting Actor Is Still Undecided 

Richard E. Grant
(Photo by © Fox Searchlight)

Can You Ever Forgive Me?‘s Richard E. Grant lost to Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor, but we think that has a lot to do with Ali’s having been shut out of a GG nomination for Moonlight a few years ago (and going on to win the Oscar). With a healthy number of wins from the critics guilds, Grant is still very much in contention. Same can be said for First Reformed‘s Ethan Hawke (for a Best Actor nomination), Eight Grade‘s Bo Burham (writing and directing), and Roma‘s Yalitza Aparicio (Best Actress), none of whom were nominated for the Globes but each of whom have enough momentum with critics groups to keep them top of mind with Academy voters.

King Continues Her Reign

76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Regina King, winner of Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2019 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)
(Photo by @ NBC)

Regina King’s winning streak continues – after a slight bump with that bizarre SAG snub. King’s work in If Beale Street Could Talk is the most honored performance of 2018 – with nearly 40 nominations and 20 wins – and her Oscar win is looking more and more assured. With momentum and buzz being just as important as the performance, King’s rousing acceptance speech was a final word to silence any naysayers (we pity the conductor who tried to play her off).

Any future for the Divisive ones?

20th Century Fox
(Photo by @ 20th Century Fox)

Few predicted the Globes would honor Bohemian Rhapsody (62% on the Tomatometer) – the lowest-rated Best Picture winner in over 33 years – in the Drama category. And it wasn’t just an issue with the film’s quality. Despite his omission from the speeches and ceremony, Bryan Singer was still listed as a producer and director for Bohemian Rhapsody after being unceremoniously fired two weeks before principal photography wrapped. Couple this with the sexual assault allegations against him and it seemed unlikely that the HPFA would honor his film. And yet they did. Green Book, the surprise winner of Best Film – Musical or Comedy, has also courted controversy thanks to a nonsensical gaffe by star Viggo Mortensen and questions about how “true” the story is. You can read a slew of articles online about the issues many are taking with both films, but cultural critic Louis Vitrel might have summed it up best on Twitter: “Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book are definitely the best movies of the year unless you ask the communities those movies were supposed to represent.” With this kind of backlash, we’d advise against putting either flick at the top of your Oscar noms predictions. Yes, both will likely be nominated for Best Picture and could win, but if either does so they will be joining dubious company. The last film to win Best Picture at the Oscars without any wins from the two most prestigious film critics groups (NYCC and LAFCA) was Crash, considered by many the worst Best Picture winner of the modern era.

Representation Matters (But It Will Matter More for the Oscars)

Sanja Bucko/Warner Bros.
(Photo by @ Warner Bros.)

The Best Picture – Drama category had made history with four of the five nominated films centering on persons of color. Add in the nomination for Crazy Rich Asians from the Musical or Comedy side and it was a banner year for representation, at least seemingly. During the ceremony, only Green Book and If Beale Street Could Talk managed to take home a prize among those diverse and celebrated films. With no specific comedy-focused categories for the Oscars, you’d have to assume Crazy Rich Asian likely doesn’t go much further (though it has a chance), but the GGs’ slights on If Beale Street Could Talk, BlacKkKlansman, and Black Panther could actually help their chances during the Oscar voting period and on the night of the awards. Much buzzed-about GG snubs – Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther script; directing and score for If Beale Street Could Talk – will be top of mind for Academy voters as they make their decisions.

Don’t Discount Roma

(Photo by @ Netflix)

The most honored film of 2019 will finally compete outside of the Foreign Language category at the Academy Awards. Prognosticators expect a ton of nominations, but many are still wondering if Alfonso Cuarón’s film can win the top prize. The “can” in that question depends largely on what voters think of Netflix. Those who have strong feelings against the streaming platform and SVOD (subscription video on demand) in general, may reject the film purely on that basis (why award the platform that’s “ruining movies,” if that’s how you feel). In the press room after his win, Roma director Alfonso Cuarón was asked pointedly if his film signaled the end of arthouse cinema; if filmmakers can bypass theaters and still win awards why would they distribute at all in future. Cuarón tactfully countered: “My question to you is, how many theaters did you think that a Mexican film in black and white, in Spanish and Mixteco, that is a drama without stars — how big did you think it would be as a conventional theatrical release?” He then added: “I [think] the discussion between Netflix and platforms, in general, should be over.” The film is peaking at the right time: It just collected two globes, continues to be one of the best-reviewed films of the year, and will enjoy a limited screening run this weekend on 70mm in select theaters (the only Best Picture contender to do so this year).

Oscar voting began Monday; nominees are announced on January 22.

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