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Award Watch 2011 :: Handicapping the Globes

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday Jan 14, 2011

The Golden Globes - the first of the Award Season triple-crown - will be awarded on Sunday night. (The others - the SAG Awards take place on January 30th with the Oscars on February 27th.) The Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are pretty much considered the least prestigious of the awards, largely because they are given out by an association of about a hundred members who are more starstruck than discriminating in their choices. They still haven't lived down giving Pia Zadora a Globe in 1981 for Best Emerging Actress when charges were made that Zadora's tycoon husband wined and dined Association members in Vegas to influence their vote.

In fact the allegations against the Foreign Press Association were ratcheted up today when it was reported in the New York Times that a former Globe publicist filed a suit against the organization members were engaged in "payola, accepting money and gifts from studios in exchange for nominating their films; sold red carpet space and media access at a profit; and received payment from studios to lobby their fellow Hollywood Foreign Press voters towards (or against) movies."

Whether this will affect the ceremony on Sunday night remains to be seen. Traditionally, though the ceremony, held in a hotel ballroom, is more laid-back and fun than the more prestigious Oscars. The attendees sit at tables, get drunk and hang out in a much more casual way - it's like a company picnic for the Hollywood elite. The tone will likely be set by host Ricky Gervais, who last year sipped beer at the podium and made cracks that skewed film biz celebrities. ("I like a drink as much as the next man... unless the next man is Mel Gibson.") He even made a penis joke. ("I've had a little bit of work done. I've had a penis reduction. Just got the one now. And it is very tiny. But so are my hands. So when I'm holding it, it looks pretty big. And let's face it I usually am holding it. I wish I was doing that now, instead of this, to be honest.")

Why the Awards are considered worthy is that they often are seen as influencing the Oscars (the ballots for those awards close on Friday, January 14 with the nominations set for early am on January 25.) This is likely why most nominees show up, walk the red carpet and sit through the television awards to get to the movie categories.

This year there were some major omissions in the nominees. The Coen Brothers' True Grit, now considered one of the front-runners for the Oscar, was completely snubbed. (Where is newcomer Hallie Steinfeld?) And where was 127 Hours? Though James Franco was cited, the film and its director (Danny Boyle was not. On the plus side it was great to see Emma Stone get cited for her terrific work in Easy A and newcomer Jennifer Lawrence receive a nomination for her striking performance in Winter's Bone.

The 68th Golden Globe Awards will be televised on Sunday, January 16, 2010 8 - 11pm (EST) on NBC.

Here are our choices in the movie categories:

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

In all likelihood these five will be up for a Best Picture Oscar. The favorite is The King’s Speech, likely because the British contingent of the Foreign Press Association is the largest. Still The Fighter has true grit; Black Swan has momentum, and Inception, a kind-of cult status. What of The Social Network? Can it pull off an upset against the favorite? Alas, no. The less-worthy The King’s Speech will win.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Aside from The Kids Are All Right, none of the choices in this category stand a chance for an Oscar nomination. Burlesque was an old-fashioned musical, but fun; Red had charm and Helen Mirren as an action hero; The Tourist a touch of Hitchcock and a Venetian setting; Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s fevered imagination in 3-D; and The Kids Are All Right has a trenchant story and first-rate performances. Look for The Kids Are All Right to win.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Darren Aronofsky; Black Swan
David Fincher; The Social Network
Tom Hooper; The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan; Inception
David O. Russell; The Fighter

A difficult category of equally-worthy nominees. David O. Russell’s captures the gritty world of The Fighter perfectly; Christopher Nolan’s incredibly complicated Inception is dazzling to watch and contemplate; Tom Hooper’s tasteful direction of The King’s Speech is from the Merchant/Ivory school, which is perfect for this prestige film. The winner, though, is between Darren Aronofsky’s dizzying Black Swan and David Fincher’s sharply-etched The Social Network. Look for Darren Aronofsky to take home the prize.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Jesse Eisenberg; The Social Network
Colin Firth; The King’s Speech;
James Franco; 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling; Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg; The Fighter

Perhaps because this was a year when there were so many strong indie films, the Best Actor category skews towards younger actors. Jesse Eisenberg, the youngest, is the most intense as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Ryan Gosling again shows why he’s one of filmdom’s most gifted actors as a man whose marriage is coming apart in Blue Valentine. Mark Wahlberg’s take on real life boxer Micky Ward is a study in understatement; James Franco gives an intensely physical performance as Aron Ralston in the harrowing and oddly uplifting 127 Hours; and Colin Firth is wonderfully sympathetic in his full-bodied impersonation of King George VI, the British monarch who had to overcome a serious speech impediment to connect with his countrymen. Colin Firth was passed over last year for A Single Man, he won’t be this time around.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Halle Berry; Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman; Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence; Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman; Black Swan
Michelle Williams; Blue Valentine

Four of the five actresses nominated here will likely get Oscar noms. The exception being Halle Berry for Frankie and Alice - a performance that had a buzz earlier in the fall, but seems to have run out of steam (and has yet to see a release). Michelle Williams also had a buzz going, but her gritty performance as a dissatisfied wife to Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine isn’t likely to be recognized here. The race comes down to Nicole Kidman’s grieving wife in Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence’s fearless Ozark teenager in Winter’s Bone and Natalie Portman’s unhinged ballerina in Black Swan. Look for Natalie Portman’s dazzling turn to win.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy

Johnny Depp; Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp; The Tourist
Paul Giamatti; Barney’s Version
Jake Gyllenhaal; Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey; Casino Jack

An intriguing category because none of the actors have been short-listed for the Best Actor Oscar. That said, Kevin Spacey isn’t likely to win for his turn as Washington, D.C. lobbyist and businessman Jack Abramoff - the film wasn’t well-received; Paul Giamatti has gotten a good buzz for his dreamy Lothario in Barney’s Vision. But the question is will Johnny Depp cancel out Johnny Depp? It is doubtful he’ll get many votes for The Tourist, but may get a healthy share for Alice in Wonderland. Jake Gyllenhaal will have to settle for just getting his first nomination because Globe favorite Johnny Depp will likely win for his mischievous Mad Hatter - his tenth nomination and second win.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy

Unlike the Oscars, the acting categories are divided into drama and comedy or musical, giving actresses a chance to be recognized for work usually considered too lightweight for Oscar consideration. Angelina Jolie is a favorite with the Foreign Press Association, hence her nomination in a poorly received film both critically and at the box office. Our favorite Emma Stone is so winning in Easy A that if there’s going to be an upset, let it be her. The question is will Julianne Moore and Annette Bening cancel each other out and give Anne Hathaway her first Golden Globe? It could happen, but Annette Bening is the more likely winner given her long track record (five nominations, one win).

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Will Michael Douglas’s bout with cancer be a factor in this category? On its merits his hammy turn in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps shouldn’t have even been nominated. No one plays a thug better than Jeremy Renner as he does in The Town; Andrew Garfield is terrific in The Social Network (and being British only helps his chances) and Geoffrey Rush is extremely likeable as the eccentric speech therapist in The King’s Speech. But it is Christian Bale’s frightening real portrayal of a crack-addicted ex-boxer in The Fighter that will win.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams; The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter; The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis; Black Swan
Melissa Leo; The Fighter
Jacki Weaver; Animal Kingdom

Four of the five here are likely to be nominated for the Oscar. Both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo (from The Fighter) have better chances for that award; Mila Kunis is something of a dark horse for her stellar turn as Natalie Portman’s frenemy in Black Swan. Helena Bonham-Carter’s sixth nomination (half for her television work) is for a performance that subtle and tasteful; the complete opposite of Jacki Weaver’s frightening mob mom in Animal Kingdom. A tough call, but look for Jacki Weaver in an upset.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes don’t divide the screenplays into original and adapted, rather they lump them together. As subtle as the screenplay is to 127 Hours, it is likely viewed more as a visual experience; The Kid’s Are All Right is smartly written; and Inception dazzles in its complexity - but they won’t win. The front-runners are between the sentimental and uplifting The King’s Speech and the lean and trenchant The Social Network. Look for The Social Network to win.

Best Animated Feature Film

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

An unusually strong category this year. Four big commercial hits and one art-is the least likely to win, with Tangled and How To Train Your Dragon - each entertaining for completely different reasons - not likely to win. The Illusionist has the prestige factor - a script by Jacques Tati and direction by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), plus it being a British-French co-production works in its favor. Still it is up against the year’s biggest commercial and critical hit - Toy Story 3, the capper of the series that in all probability will win.

Best Foreign Language Film

The Concert
The Edge
I Am Love
In a Better World

As usual, the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film have been in limited release or not yet released at all. Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s drama about a career criminal attempting to tie up the lose ends of his life, has a strong buzz, largely due to Javier Bardem’s performance. No less than Sean Penn called it the best screen acting since Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. Tilda Swinton’s majestic turn in I Am Love may give that Italian melodrama some clout, but look to Biutiful to take home the Globe.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Bound to You; Burlesque
Coming Home; Country Strong
I See the Light; Tangled
There’s a Place for Us; Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me; Burlesque

It’s a battle of the Burlesque divas in this category: Christina Aguilera’s "Bound to You" and Cher’s "You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me". Cher has the stronger song, so look for her’s to be a winner. Dark horse is "I See The Light," which was sung by actor Zachary Levi in Tangled, the biggest hit of the films in this category. It may be the only recognition the film gets.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Danny Elfman; Alice in Wonderland
A.R. Rahmin; 127 Hours
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross; The Social Network
Hans Zimmer; Inception

The choice for best score is between Alexandre Desplot’s tasteful, inspirational The King’s Speech and the soundscapes Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created for The Social Network. Again with the Brits holding the majority of voters, look for a home team victory for Alexandre Desplot for The King’s Speech. Desplat is another Globe favorite, having four nominations since 1997 and one win (for The Painted Veil in 2007). Expect him to pick up his second on Sunday night.

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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