Golden Globes

The Golden Globe Awards are no longer the joke they used to be in, say, the 80s and 90s. Once derided as that “other” movie awards show that has been the domain of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. While it isn’t the Academy Awards and it isn’t about what the Motion Picture Academy thinks, the Globes have become more prestigious and therefore meaningful because the movie awards derby has been so saturated in the press –thank you, Access Hollywood and all the other movie promo shows—that it’s become almost a cottage industry.

The LA Times, for example, runs “The Envelope”, a blog devoted not just to the Oscars, but to all awards shows. The message is this: we get obsessed about these awards shows, be it the Emmys, the Oscars, the Grammys, and we take a bit of pleasure in getting into the guessing game that it entails. Even if the entire country hasn’t seen, say, Kristen Scott-Thomas, in “I’ve Loved You for So Long” (“Il y a longtemps que je t’aime”), you can still guess that she probably doesn’t stand a chance against maybe a Kate Winslet or a perennial Meryl Streep in the lead actress category. (Although, having seen Scott-Thomas, she is incredibly heart-breaking.)

Here are my fearless predictions for tonight’s Golden Globes. The show honors both films and TV, so I list the major categories and select who I think the Foreign Press will choose as the winner. The Globes are not necessarily a harbinger of who the Motion Picture Academy will select as this year’s Oscar nominees on January 22. “Milk”, for instance, a film that is expected to collect multiple Oscar nominations, only managed to get one Golden Globe nomination –for Sean Penn. The fact is, there are way too many awards shows anyways, as this week’s People’s Choice Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards (huh?) have already launched the awards-sweepstakes-pat-on-back season.

BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA

•    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
•    Frost/Nixon
•    The Reader
•    Revolutionary Road
•    Slumdog Millionaire

Although I walked out of it last November at a late-night showing in Hollywood (the frenetic camera work and narrative structure were driving me crazy), “Slumdog Millionaire” is rapidly gaining momentum and it has picked up a lot of other best film awards of late. Oddly enough, Danny Boyle’s film about a poor boy in Mumbai, is the feel-good movie. Yeah, I had to say that.

BEST MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY

•    Burn After Reading
•    Happy-Go-Lucky
•    In Bruges
•    Mamma Mia!
•    Vicky Cristina Barcelona

The insufferable “Mamma Mia!” would seem to be the popular choice here, if only because it made over $500 million in ticket sales around the world. The sight of Meryl Streep in a denim jumpsuit and Pierce Brosnan caterwauling through “SOS” notwithstanding, the more skilled film would be “Bruges” or “Vicky”, but popularity and familiarity will prevail here.

ACTOR, DRAMA

•    Leonardo DiCaprio, “Revolutionary Road”
•    Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
•    Sean Penn, “Milk”
•    Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
•    Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

It’s a race between Penn and Langella, giving performances of their careers. They are both intense and nuanced and either choice would be fine. However, I think the Foreign Press will want to bestow the award on Penn and make a significant statememt about a film that is already timely and important.

ACTRESS, DRAMA

•    Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
•    Angelina Jolie, “The Changeling”
•    Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
•    Kristin Scott-Thomas, “I’ve Loved You for So Long”
•    Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”

Hathaway completely inhabited her role in Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel”, and there’s a good chance she will walk away with this. The other day, at the Critics’ Choice Awards, where she tied Streep, Jolie gave her the evil eye from the audience probably because no one really saw “The Changeling”. (See video above and watch at 01:38). But no one –probably fewer—even see “Rachel” either, though that does not take away from Hathaway’s piercing portrayal of an ex-drug user coming home to find recovery. Nevertheless, I think this is Winslet’s year to walk away with it, in a film that centers more on her and not her co-star.

ACTRESS, COMEDY or MUSICAL

•    Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
•    Colin Farrell, “In Bruges”
•    James Franco, “Pineapple Express”
•    Brendan Gleason, “In Bruges”
•    Dustin Hoffman, “Last Chance Harvey”

Franco was actually pretty endearing, though I don’t know if he’ll be remembered for this over his role in “Milk”, which was not nominated. Bardem was not the focus of “Vicky”, since it was anchored by his three female co-stars. I am inclined to go with Farrell and Gleason, for the witty “Bruges”. Between the two, I would go with Farrell because he is more well-known and because he can do comedy very well, in a blustery kind of way.

ACTRESS, COMEDY or MUSICAL

•    Rebecca Hall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
•    Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
•    Frances McDormand, “Burn After Reading”
•    Meryl Streep, “Mamma Mia!”
•    Emma Thompson, “Last Chance Harvey”

Between Streep and Hawkins, I would give the edge to Hawkins, who has walked away with many of the critics’ awards already. Credit again goes to Mike Leigh, who seems to have a knack for showcasing astounding female talent in his improvisational-style films, with Brenda Blethyn (“Secrets and Lies”), Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”) and now Hawkins. With Streep, it’s also an immensely well-known performance, and even some singing for those who could bear to hear it. But the British-born Hawkins will probably walk away with this and guarantee herself an Oscar nomination in the process.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

•    Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”
•    Robert Downey, Jr, “Tropic Thunder”
•    Ralph Fiennes, “The Dutchess”
•    Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
•    Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Could there be any doubt that this award won’t go to Ledger? Not only is it the showiest performance in this category –indeed, one of the showiest in recent years—but it’s an intense character study and one that is also immensely satisfying as well. A posthumous victory is virtually guaranteed.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

•    Amy Adams, “Doubt”
•    Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
•    Viola Davis, “Doubt”
•    Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”
•    Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Cruz, who was superb in “Volver” last year and lost the Best Actress Oscar to Marion Cotillard, was also outstanding in “Vicky” as Bardem’s free-sprited ex-wife. She has been winning many of the year-end awards already and she should sail to victory here. An Oscar win is highly likely, especially given her work in “Volver” and promise as a fantastically talented actress –in English and in Spanish.

TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA

•    Dexter
•    House
•    In Treatment
•    Mad Men
•    True Blood

The “Mad Men” juggernaut continues, even if season two (OK, save for the finale) was not as awe-inspiring as its maiden season. But it’s great television nonetheless, even if the Foreign Press will never nominate the equally brilliant “Friday Night Lights” or “The Wire”.

ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA

•    Sally Field, “Brothers and Sisters”
•    Mariska Hargitay, “Law and Order: SVU”
•    January Jones, “Mad Men”
•    Anna Paquin, “True Blood”
•    Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”

Field is too mainstream, and she manages to outact anyone else on that maudlin show by a mile. Hargitay’s turn as Olivia is as well, I’m afraid, but I don’t think it’s her year either. Jones had an especially memorable final couple of episodes that were almost award fodder. But I think it’s Anna Paquin who will surprise here, with what is one of the most original performances on a show that, while well done, is pretty way out there, even for HBO standards.

ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA

•    Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment”
•    Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
•    Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
•    Hugh Laurie, “House”
•    Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, “The Tudors”

All good performances, although “In Treatment” was fairly uneven. Once again, Jon Hamm shined above all his fellow cast members on “Mad Men” and his versatility should be rewarded here.

TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY or MUSICAL

•    30 Rock
•    Californication
•    Entourage
•    The Office
•    Weeds

It’s puzzling that a show like “Californication” even gets nominated since it’s soft-core porn disguised as self-indulgent drivel, and it’s even non-fiction, what with David Duchovny’s stint for what his character ends up doing on every episode. Why this and not a “The Adventures of the Old Christine”, “The Big Bang Theory” or even “How I Met Your Mother”, shows that far classier. “Entourage” has been hobbled by weaker scripts, but there still is a polish to it. “The Office”, while mostly fine, suffered as some of the episodes became longer, and it became rote and duller. My pick is the always entertaining, and sometimes out-there, “30 Rock”, if for nothing else Alec Baldwin’s supremely winning performances, Tina Fey’s wit and a feel that this show is unlike any of the other sitcoms on TV.

ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL

•    Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?”
•    America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”
•    Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
•    Debra Messing, “The Starter Wife”
•    Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds”

Ferrera is one of the few gems still outstanding on “Ugly Betty” anymore, since the show has grown far too cartoonish. The show is no longer very cutting edge either, but she remains feisty and smart. Messing has been better, and “Starter” is just not “Will and Grace”. She is a bit too caricatured and mannered, I think (not as much as Judy Davis, though). This is simply Tina Fey’s year all around, and if her amazingly neat and nifty role as Liz Lemon. It’s astounding to think that she used to be a mere comedy writer and that she has blossomed into a contextualized, slightly complex, but always clever character.

ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL

•    Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
•    Steve Carrell, “The Office”
•    Kevin Connolly, “Entourage”
•    David Duchovny, “Californication”
•    Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”

It’s interesting that Connolly, a first-time nominee, is chosen here for what has been a supporting role as Eric. He was excellent this year, but I’m not sure that his was at the level of Baldwin or Carrell, both of whom stood above everyone else in their casts. I think it hurts Carrell that “The Office” was at times uneven, though he did have some especially shining moments. (That “Dinner Party” episode, especially). But he didn’t have the strength of Baldwin and this is his year to win, after he won the Emmy in September.

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