Monday, January 18, 2010

Putting the Globes in Perspective, Part Deux

Nobody panic now. Sandra Bullock isn't a better actress than Meryl Streep. The Golden Globes didn't totally destroy everything we know.

I've gotten more than a few people asking me today what the effects of the Globes are. I've read more than a few reports saying they don't mean jack. That's not really true, but they aren't super-important, either. In reality, they're a bit of a middle ground: they help somewhat, but unless you're at a real make-it-or-break-it point in your Oscar campaign, they're not vital, either.

Avatar didn't find itself eliminated from the race as I might have hoped, but things are hardly settled in the Best Picture race. Friday's Critics' Choice Awards for The Hurt Locker and its director, Kathryn Bigelow, set the stage for a brutal, drawn-out battle the likes of which America hasn't seen since Barack and Hillary.

In the other races, some things became settled, other races got jostled a bit, and some former frontrunners saw their campaigns go up in smoke. (*sob* Colin Firth! Damn you, precursors!)

Starting from this update, the Hit or Miss! options are gone (for the moment), and Personal Pick? is introduced, which is about as obvious a title as Snakes on a Plane.

Best Picture
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
Inglourious Basterds
An Education
District 9
A Serious Man

Personal Pick? An Education, which isn't getting nearly the love it should. It was a fun, entertaining movie that still managed to be deep and raise serious issues. If it were nominated, A Single Man would definitely be among my top picks, along with Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Hurt Locker, and Up in the Air.

So much for (500) Days of Summer. You can't lose the Golden Globe to The Hangover and expect to keep your candidacy alive. This is really a two-film race now, and it should be an interesting battle between David and Goliath, between ex-husband and ex-wife, between blue monkeys and bomb diffusers. The rest are here for the party. (They best not be tardy, though.)

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Personal Pick? Firth was instantly memorable and mesmerizingly devastating in this role that went beyond gay or straight and was instead a look at what loss of love does to a man's world.

Renner and Freeman aren't even in the race, but they should easily get nominated, Freeman more easily than Renner. Bridges has got this locked up, though a few spoiler wins from Clooney or Firth could change things. I don't think that's possible, though. This one has the smell of a career achievement win.

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria

Personal Pick? I liked so many of these performances, but Streep is an absolute chameleon in her acting, and this time was no different. She's truly the Best Actress.

Yes, Bullock is probably Streep's greatest competition now, but that isn't saying a whole lot. Sidibe and Mulligan were victims of early buzz, then fizzled out in favor of this intriguing new battle. I still don't think Helen Mirren will get the nod, though maybe I'm placing too much faith in Blunt. Mulligan needed a win to stay viable, and the Globes were her best shot. This is probably the most competitive acting race, but again, that's not saying a whole lot either. The Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday could shed some light, and maybe even shake things up with a win for Sidibe, but I have a feeling Streep's time has come again.

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Matt Damon, Invictus

Personal Pick? This one isn't even a debate. Waltz made like his name and danced around his competitors at the Globes, as he will at every awards show. His Colonel Hans Landa is insanely good, whereas the rest of these performances were, uh, not.

If the voters get a tad lazy and start throwing votes around to less deserving competitors (it's happened), things could swing away from Waltz, but that would be a tremendous disappointment and controversy. It's not likely to happen, and by the grace of God it won't.

Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique, Precious
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Penelope Cruz, Nine

Personal Pick? Is that a question? Mo'Nique is not only my pick in this category, not only in this year, but is the single best film performance in years.

This is a lock, but then again, you already knew that. Who would've thought when she was hosting Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School that Mo'Nique would be an Oscar winner, and a highly deserving one at that? Life's really funny (and fun, to be honest) like that.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Lee Daniels, Precious
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Personal Pick? Girls can be just as bamf (thank you Will Klein, for that word choice) as boys can! Bigelow for the win.

Bigelow still has the buzz and the novelty factor ("Hey, women can direct, too!"), but Cameron is the King of the World, after all. He said so himself. Could he steal this away from his incredibly attractive ex-wife? Meanwhile, I don't think the awards voters are taking Tarantino's candidacy here very seriously. I foresee a loss for him, and possibly missing a nomination altogether. Love for Clint Eastwood still runs very deeply in the Academy, after all.

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Bob Peterson, Up
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

Personal Pick? Basterds was loud and obnoxious at times, but Boal's script for The Hurt Locker spoke volumes through its silence.

Tarantino's win at the Critics' Choice Awards helps, but Boal has way more momentum for the long haul and, best of all, plays by WGA rules, important when making the Oscar shortlist. As always, this thing could go a zillion different directions.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Damien Paul, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia
Tom Ford, A Single Man

Personal Pick? Paul's script was incredible, but Precious isn't really a feat of writing. Hornby and Ford wrote impressively, and I did enjoy Up in the Air's script, but to me, blending two stories into one is really difficult work, and so Ephron gets my vote, even if her script wasn't technically the best here.

For the first time, I'm feeling less than confident about this list. Invictus' failure to impress screwed me up. The precursors aren't backing me up on this one, so I've gotta go with my gut. And likely flop on my face.

Any more questions about how things at the Globes affected the Oscar nominations? Feeling like I'm supremely underrating Sandra Bullock? Comments!

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