Golden Globes Aftermath: 5 Wins That Matter

6092ae492552d664b924123652eb0543b13032bcHave you recovered? Have you gotten over Paula Patton’s dress? Have you had your fair share of Jacqueline Bisset-filled nightmares?

Of course you haven’t.

Last night’s ceremony proved that the Globes have evolved into perhaps the most fun night of awards season; they’re about flair, charisma, and grasping for a handful of spectacle but only coming up with a fistful of gifs and a few vodka tonics.

Last night’s telecast was, for sure, the highlight of the season thus far. The fact that the Globes are owning their identity and capitalizing on their second-in-line status allows us to do something that’s so rare this time of year: enjoy and indulge in the spectacle of stardom, and sit back to watch, free from the burden of our brains.

After all, the Globes no longer have the power over the Academy that they were growing accustomed to. Their nominations still take place before Oscar ballots go out, but their winners are now announced after Oscar balloting has closed. This means that Globe winners are more likely to win at the Oscars—if they were able to score a nomination with the Academy in the first place.

And, let’s not forget who’s voting on these things. Amy Adams might have been hawking her teeny tiny actress tear droplets as a result of her win last night, but she, too, is well-aware that it’s really not that big of a deal to win a Golden Globe.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a group of 85 foreign-born, U.S.-residing journalists. They’re not industry professionals, they’re not filmmakers, and they’re small in number. This means they’re easily swayed towards a group consensus and, as their voting tendencies have shown, enamored with star power and profitability.  At most, Amy was given a stage to rehearse an Oscar speech (should she get one, which seems entirely unlikely) and shove her brand down our throats (“I ask my manager all the time, ‘Why did you take a chance on me?’” she said, teary-eyed, and I hope she wasn’t lying and this interaction with her manager has occurred once per week for the last decade).

Theatrical speeches like this (and studly winks to the camera, a’la Matthew McConaughey) coupled with the essence of stardom is what wins you a Globe, and allows you ample space to give a taste of what you’d do with an Oscar podium, should you be given one.

That brings me to the first key win of the evening, among others, that has real potential to influence the Oscar race:

rs_634x1024-140112180743-634.jennifer-lawrence-winner-golden-globes-20141)      Jennifer Lawrence winning Supporting Actress

Is star-appeal and star-power how you explain the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence winning in their respective categories? Most likely. In Leo’s case, he was arguably the biggest star in a bunch that included Bruce Dern, Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Joaquin Phoenix. In Lawrence’s possession is quite possibly the fastest-rising star in the industry. She’s starred in four films that have crossed the $100 million mark in the past two years, and has two Oscar-related honors to her name (one win, and one other nomination).

In American Hustle, she’s simply far too aware of camera. Her appeal here is in the same vein as being back in high school and watching a friend act in a school play. She’s engaging by default, and you find comfort in the familiarity of her charisma. She’s got a genuine ability to have fun with a role, but this isn’t a genuinely good performance. She makes you love her—for being Jennifer Lawrence—but doesn’t create a character that’s strong enough to wrangle her persona to second fiddle.

The problem is that these awards season voters wants to forge her path for her, instead of letting her find it on her own. They want to be there at the point of conception, and see it all the way through. That doesn’t make for an interesting star. Putting a fish on the line, plopping it in the water, and reeling it in a second time doesn’t count as one in the bucket. But, the Globes have long had a knack for trying to pre-determine longstanding success. They proved their affinity for the untried-and-not-quite-yet-true just last night, as they awarded Andy Samberg and his “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” comedy series top honors in the comedic category.

There’s a chance that their affections for Lawrence won’t carry through to the Oscars. The Globes tend to get ahead of themselves in more ways than one, and it’s difficult to imagine Academy members outside of the actors branch consuming her mere presence for a third time since 2010. Lawrence’s trajectory is set, and she doesn’t need another Oscar to tell us that. She was working Oscar voters with that speech, however, and the film surrounding her meh/ok/endearing-because-it’s-J-Law performance  is a strong enough contender that she’s, by default, the strongest contender heading into the Oscars. Lupita Nyong’o, Lawrence’s closest competitor, will need some heavy support from SAG voters if she’s to remain alive.

rs_560x415-140112183328-1024.amy-adams-winner-golden-globes-20142)     Amy Adams winning Lead Comedy/Musical Actress

We might be looking at an entirely different Best Actress race if Oscar ballots had an extended due date. As it was prior to last night, Adams’ presence on the Best Actress front was sketchy at best. The film has picked up serious momentum over the last few weeks, but Lawrence’s ability to trump Adams in the off-screen personality department has done its fair share of stealing the discussion away from the film’s best female role.

If Adams had been a long-standing part of the Best Actress race from the start of the season, this win might not mean as much as it does now. It just so happens that this year, the Comedy/Musical separation bore just as much weight as the drama category, as both genres felt packed with legitimate Oscar contenders instead of being stuffed with filler by over-reaching, star-hungry HFPA voters.

Adams’ fate lies within Oscar voters’ ability to pick up on the shifting momentum, and if they felt strongly enough about her work without the validation of a Globes acceptance speech to put her name on their ballots.

If Adams managed to squeak into the Best Actress Oscar race, expect Meryl Streep to sit this year out.

tumblr_mzbpgv41U51r87glvo1_5003)     Her winning Screenplay

Spike Jonze’s genuine shock at winning last night’s top honor for his Her script was enough to endear himself to Academy voters with an adorable speech—again, should Her have already found its way onto their ballots. American Hustle has long since led this category on the Oscar side of things, but Jonze’s upset here comes as a genuine surprise in an awards season with an otherwise murky trajectory.

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show - Season 714)     12 Years a Slave winning Drama Picture

Without snagging a single award in any other category last night (unless you count the subtle victory of having African American cultural icon Reese Witherspoon present the film’s accompanying montage to the world), 12 Years a Slave surged back into the race with a surprising win in the prestigious Best Motion Picture – Drama category. The only problem for 12 Years a Slave seems now to be American Hustle, as that film won 3 Globes in the comedic categories (including two for acting).

Without consensus support (Gravity won Best Director, a category both men behind 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle were also nominated in) there’s yet to be a single frontrunner in the Best Picture race, and that’s exactly what we needed the Globes to do for us. Instead, they crowned each of the three frontrunners with top awards in key categories.

12 Years a Slave’s win proves that there’s still a great deal of push behind the film (enough to resonate with Oscar voters? It’s surely nominated in Best Picture, but a win is still going to be tough for it to pull off), but it’s difficult to watch an awards season where no one wants to take a single film and run with it. The number of Oscar nominations the film receives on Thursday will give us a much clearer idea of just how strong support is for this film.

5)     Matthew McConaughey winning Drama Actor

In the wide-open Best Actor race, it was all whittled down to one deciding moment that secured his Oscar. This:
1-13-2014 3-16-06 PMThat smile-and-point (he said he was talking to his children) was enough to take out Hollywood legends like Bruce Dern and Robert Redford in one fell swoop. No, Matthew McConaughey’s children, he wasn’t actually talking to you: he was pointing straight to the hearts of Oscar voters. You’re not going to tell me AMPAS member Gabourey Sidibe didn’t react to that smile with a few snaps’ worth of attention alongside a Google Calendar reminder to vote for him once final Academy ballots are out in a few weeks.

All in all, the Globes did what they needed to do. They played the Oscar game (and maybe shifted the tide a little bit), they gave us stars, they gave BuzzFeed and Gawker a few gifs that will get old by tomorrow, they gave Amy Poehler a Golden Globe, and—most importantly—gave us reason enough to tune in next year.

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