December 13, 2012

OSCARBALL: The Golden Globe Nominations

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Another day, another set of nominees.

The Golden Globes, of course, whose nominees in full can be found here, have become their own thing, even though as an organization the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has no more credibility than the National Board of Review.  That’s what a celebrity-packed, network-aired primetime telecast will get you.

On the movie side, the Globes are distinguished by awarding Dramas and Comedy/Musicals separately, which boosts the number of nominees (and celebrities at the banquet) but makes them not much of a precursor to the Oscars.  On January 13, we’ll know how Argo stacks up next to Zero Dark Thirty, but not how either of them does against Les Miserables, which is in a separate category.  Nevertheless, the sheer prominence of the Globes means that Oscar voters notice those nominees when they’re filling out their own ballots, so they do have some importance. Therefore, some noteworthy inclusions, omissions and curiosities follow:

BEST DRAMA:  The 2 slots that would likely have gone to Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook if comedies and musicals weren’t in a separate category gave lifelines to Django Unchained and especially the previously floundering Life of Pi, which joined Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln among the nominees.  The winner is likely to come from the latter 3, but depending on how many Oscar nominees there turn out to be, Django and Pi now have a better chance of making the list.  The big losers who weren’t able to capitalize on the extra slots include The Master, Anna Karenina, and particularly Beasts of the Southern Wild, which may have been hurt by its lack of star power.

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL:  Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook were no-brainers, so the question was what would fill the other 3 slots.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom were solid choices, both already in the Oscar running, but the annual Golden Globes “what the hell” nomination went to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a modestly likable comedy that didn’t seem to have an awards footprint at all before today.  That left Bernie, Hyde Park On Hudson, Hope Springs, This Is 40 and Quartet among the comedies on the outside looking in.

BEST DIRECTOR:  All 5 of the Drama nominees had their directors nominated, leaving no room for Tom Hooper or David O. Russell of Les Miz or Silver Linings.  This will, again, make the award-winner less significant for Oscar prediction purposes.

BEST DRAMA ACTOR:  Daniel Day-Lewis and Denzel Washington had to be included, and it was good to see Joaquin Phoenix and John Hawkes get some recognition.  Richard Gere fits the star value profile of the Globes, but also gave a very fine performance in Arbitrage.

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS:  Jessica Chastain and Marion Cotillard were the sure things here, with Helen Mirren, Naomi Watts and the suddenly prominent Rachel Weisz filling out the list.  Emmanuelle Riva’s much-touted performance in Amour continues to get limited recognition, but the biggest surprise is the omission of Keira Knightley, whose Anna Karenina now looks to be limited to the less-lucrative technical categories.

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTOR:  Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman, of course, and if you’re going to have a Comedy category, Jack Black and Bill Murray merit inclusion (if Hyde Park On Hudson is really a comedy).  The continuing puzzlement of Ewan McGregor’s presence for Salmon Fishing In the Yemen begs the question of just what CBS Films did to win such fans at the HFPA.

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTRESS:  Jennifer Lawrence is up against 3 grand dames in Maggie Smith (nominated for Quartet, not Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Judi Dench (nominated for Best Exotic in lieu of a Supporting nomination for Skyfall) and Meryl Streep.  Emily Blunt is in for Salmon Fishing, over both Leslie Mann for This Is 40 and Barbra Streisand for The Guilt Trip, a fact that will have this year’s Oscar consultants pursuing their investigation of whoever represented CBS Films this year.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  The supporting categories combine Comedy and Drama, so they’re of more interest.  Alan Arkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones are all unassailable choices, but it’s a shock that one of them wasn’t pushed to the side by Robert DeNiro for Silver Linings Playbook.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy, yay!  That would have looked more insane before the SAG nominations yesterday–Kidman, who received 2 nominations from both groups (the other in the TV field for Hemingway & Gellhorn), is clearly doing something right.  The other choices–Anne Hathaway, Sally Field, Amy Adams and Helen Hunt–were already clear frontrunners.

BEST SCREENPLAY:  Four of the 5 Drama nominees were named, with Life of Pi deservedly making way for Silver Linings Playbook.  The fact that Les Miz wasn’t named for either Director or Screenplay may indicate some lack of love from the HFPA.

On the TV side, the Globes’ lack of credibility can be illustrated by one simple fact:  Mad Men, still the best show on the air, wasn’t even nominated for Best Drama.  (But The Newsroom was.)  This isn’t just an omission, it’s a scandal, and it colors all the rest of the nominations.  Also:  Smash is a comedy? That explains so much, I guess.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."