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What Do Last Night's Golden Globe Wins Mean For the Oscars?

By Pahull Bains

Date January 7, 2019

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The Golden Globes have long been known as the kooky member of the awards circuit family: always a ton of fun, but not to be taken quite seriously. While they officially kick off awards season each year, the notoriously unpredictable awards show isn’t a great arbiter of what to expect over the following two months of awards, culminating with the Oscars on February 24. That said, it does certainly affect the buzz going into the season, and the fact that the Academy nominations cycle began this morning, the very night after the Globes, could very well influence the process. Which could be why some of the winners at last night’s ceremony sparked surprise (and outrage) from critics and film buffs on social media over the course of the evening.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which awards the Globes, is comprised of 90 international journalists based in Los Angeles. By contrast, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences—which awards the Oscars—counts over 8000 people from the industry as members, from actors to writers to cinematographers to casting directors. As Linda Holmes notes in NPR, “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is relatively small, notoriously weird in its tastes, and possessed of a reputation politely described as “eye-poppingly solicitous in matters related to famous people.” You never want to take the Globes too seriously, except that they are a high-profile event that’s a big part of Oscar campaigning — whether they should be or not. (They should not.)”

So what, if anything, can we take away from this year’s Golden Globes?

Bohemian Rhapsody won three of the biggest awards of the night: best actor, best screenplay and best film. That’s a massive wave of support for the film which, though commercially successful in many countries around the world, was panned by critics for a variety of reasons, including its excessively moralistic depiction of homosexuality and AIDS, and its inaccurate timeline of events. The film’s director, Bryan Singer, was fired halfway through filming and replaced by another director, Dexter Fletcher, though the directing credit remains Singer’s, who has since been accused of rape and sexual assault. Despite the love it received on Globes night, it’s doubtful that we’ll see a repeat of multiple awards at the Oscars. Rami Malek, who plays Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, still has a pretty good shot at nabbing the statuette for Best Actor, but other than that, the film’s chances to win big with the Academy still seem slim. (For the record, according to review-aggregation site Metacritic, Bohemian Rhapsody is the worst-reviewed Best Drama Globe winner in recorded history.)

Green Book is another film that found some favour with audiences but not so much with critics. It won the coveted People’s Choice Award at TIFF, which has historically been a pretty good indicator of the film that eventually went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. But the film’s basic premise of ‘Hey look! A black man and a white man can be friends!’ has been criticized for being overly simplistic, and the storyline itself—which is supposed to be based on true events—has been deemed “a symphony of lies” by the surviving family of Don Shirley, the black musician portrayed by Mahershala Ali in the film.

Both this film and the Queen biopic take ostensibly progressive ideas but fail to dive as deep into their complexity as the stories deserve. Speaking of remaining in the shallows…

A Star is Born very shockingly went home with just one award, for Best Original Song, which was pretty much a lock anyway. I think we can safely bet on it going home with Oscar too. But Bradley Cooper lost out to Malek, Lady Gaga to Glenn Close (more on that in a bit) and the film overall to Bohemian Rhapsody. Cooper’s still very much in the running for the Oscars, as is Gaga although Close’s win—and impassioned speech about women pursuing their dreams—definitely make her a stronger contender than earlier estimated. Close’s look of utter shock proves that even she wasn’t expecting to win but her spontaneous speech clearly sat well with the audience in the room—many of whom are Academy voters—because it got her a mid-speech standing ovation.

It should also be noted that in her 45-year career (a stat she casually dropped into her speech), Close has been nominated for an Oscar six times but is yet to take home the gold. Adding to the tight Best Actress race is Olivia Colman, whose win for The Favourite, another critical darling, puts her in a pretty solid position.

Roma winning both Best Foreign Film and Best Director bodes well for its chances at the Oscars. Unlike the Globes, where foreign films are not eligible for the Best Picture award, Alfonso Cuaron’s languid black-and-white film could very likely land a Best Picture nom and perhaps take it home too. It’s a film that has done exceedingly well with critics and members of the industry, praised for everything from its cinematography and score to acting and direction.

Neither Green Book nor Bohemian Rhapsody were expected to emerge the frontrunners at the Globes, but this is just the beginning. We’ve got the Critics’ Choice Awards coming up on January 13, and we already know that neither of these two films was honoured by the New York Film Critics Circle or the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The upcoming guild awards though—Directors Guild of America (DGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG)—are usually the most reliable predictors of Oscar night success. Let the speculation continue!

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