Golden Globes

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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Knocking a Few Back with the HFPA: Predicting the Golden Globes

tina_fey_amy_poehler_golden_globes_-_h_2013It’s tough being number two, but it’s a status the Golden Globe Awards have known per annum throughout their 71-year history.

Playing second fiddle to the Academy Awards has given the Globes an identity unto themselves, however, as their lighthearted approach to greatness in film lacks the stuffiness, all-importance, and weight of the Oscars. At best, the Globes have always been a no-frills romp through Oscar-preview territory.

The Oscars, in recent years, have made numerous changes to their voting deadlines, including moving a key voting deadline for nominations prior to the Golden Globe winners being announced. How, then, does an organization that prides itself upon influencing the Oscars forge an identity for itself?

For one, the Globes have long celebrated the art of movie stardom and the harmony it shares with quality film. Their nominations come early enough that Oscar voters can still look to them for nominations. Though the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a vital prognosticator for Oscar voting, they’ve since become a spectacle of industry showiness.

The Globes are an excuse for stars to get dressed up without feeling the pressure of doing something of any great importance, and more importantly, are a key stage to increase the visibility of a potential contender. Even with the Oscar voting date changes, Globe winners will still have an impact on Oscar winners.

It’s refreshing to see, as of late, that the Globes aren’t trying to compete with the Oscars anymore, as they’ve made attempts to embrace and embellish their inferior stance; the hosts grew looser, the drinks grew stronger (and more acknowledged, as they’ve carried their drinks onstage for the last few years) and the Globes got–dare I say it–fun.

At the root of it, there’s really no sense comparing the HFPA to the AMPAS in the first place. The Academy’s 6,000+ membership dwarves the Globes’ voting base, which stands at just under 100. The type of voters drastically differs as well. Whereas the Oscars are voted upon by film industry professionals (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc.), the Globes are decided by a bunch of U.S.-residing, foreign-publishing journalists (The LA Times reports that they’re most predominantly active in Europe, while on the other hand only one HFPA journalist is publishing in huge international markets like India, China, and Hong Kong). It’s easier to come to a consensus with numbers that small, and it’s also much easier to be swayed (remember when Burlesque made it into a few key categories in 2010 after that private concert Cher gave to voters?).

It’s for this reason that the Globes are an interesting pre-Oscar entity. While they generally provide ample audition space for imminent Oscar-winners to prep the viewing public with a tester acceptance speech, the Globes tend to capture the spirit of what the Oscars don’t. HFPA members have never forgotten the power of stardom and its massive appeal–it’s the first thing Globes voters latch on to, and what they value most. Big-name stars and flashy productions with huge commercial appeal are what the Globes thrive on. Films that anyone–from any nation–can plop down in front of and enjoy are the ideal Globes candidates. They tell us what has appeal to the masses, and therefore tell us what is likely to appeal to the broader voting branches of the Academy (including the more generalized voters of the actors branch, in particular).

The Globes champion commercial appeal, which can drive box-office, which increases visibility, and that can all influence an Oscar voter when they sit down with their final ballots in a few weeks.

Often, the same crop of films end up being nominated for the Oscars (the Globes aren’t entirely rogue and often don’t deviate, in a general sense, from the tide of awards season consensus), though the HFPA is far more inclined to nominate a name over quality of work than the Academy is.

For the first time in years, the Globes’ two-genre system of awards separation doesn’t feel like it’s filled with placeholders. The Comedy/Musical categories are usually wastelands filled with films whose stars are the only things on the HFPA radar (The Tourist, Burlesque, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, anyone?), but 2013 was such a strong year that both categories feel appropriately stuffed, with each film nominated having a legitimate shot at a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

On the Drama side, we have Rush, Philomena, Gravity, Captain Phillips, and 12 Years a Slave. The latter three films have dominated the awards season discussion since the September festivals. Rush was pushed into the race largely due to its euro-centric content and appeal (the same can be said for Philomena).

gravity-movie-review-sandra-bullock-shiopWhile my heart is telling me to select 12 Years a Slave as the winner here, my brain pulls me toward Gravity. Sandra Bullock’s one-woman show grossed nearly $700 million worldwide in an age where female-driven narratives still aren’t taken as seriously as the boys’. Keep in mind, this is largely the same voting base who awarded star-studded films like Atonement and Babel over eventual Oscar-winners No Country for Old Men and The Departed, respectively. In terms of worldwide appeal and presence (capped off by an international superstar in the lead role), Gravity has this one in the bag.

Gravity’s success is further bolstered by films with female-driven performances topping the domestic box-office, as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire becomes the first film driven by a female performance to top the U.S. box-office since 1997’s Titanic (and even that was arguably driven by a male and female performance). In fact, three of the ten highest-grossing films of 2013 were driven by women: Frozen ($712 million worldwide and counting), Catching Fire ($846 million worldwide and counting), and Gravity ($670 million worldwide)–the first time this has happened in years.

With an awards season narrative on its side, Gravity is soaring into the race the old fashioned way; on appeal, on critical championing, on audience reaction, and on box-office returns. With ease, it puts a mark in every box.

Contenders in the Musical/Comedy category include Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Nebraska. While there’s not a single film in this category that I’d consider a comedy or musical, the collective quality of the pictures represented here–for once–eclipses that which is represented in the drama category.

David O. Russell’s American Hustle is arguably the front-runner for the Oscar at the moment, and it received a stunning seven nominations from the HFPA (including one in each of the major acting categories). Pushed head-first into the race by the New York Film Critics Circle after being awarded their top prize, Hustle has built momentum for three reasons:

1) David O. Rusell’s prolific output over the past 5 years
2) David O. Russell’s track record (having three films in the awards race over 5 years without any significant wins)
3) David O. Russell’s actual direction (to get the performances he’s gotten out of his actors, a multitude of which have won Oscars or been nominated for them, is incredible)

None of American Hustle‘s appeal has to do with the quality of the film much at all. Russell has been gunning for an Oscar for the better part of the last five years. After skirting around the edges of awards season glory with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook (he came very close last year), his time has come. All he had to do was produce a film that wasn’t a dud, and what he did was produce a film that’s star-studded, fast-paced, and showy, the perfect mix for a Globes voter coma. The awards circuit loves their narratives, and Russell sweeping the major awards late in the season is a fitting cherry atop his massive, multi-year bid for glory.

Hustle’s closest competitor seems to be Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, seeing as both Russell and Payne are the only two directors to receive a nomination from the Musical/Comedy category. They join Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) in an extremely difficult category to predict.

Whoever wins here will surely funnel some of the 2013 Oscar race into much less chaotic waters. While the Oscars might have a Director/Picture split this year, it’s increasingly difficult to come to a logical consensus for the Globes’ pick for director. Usually we already have a frontrunner whose dominance stretches high and above its other awards season contenders. Here, we’ve got three films all arguably neck-and-neck within the race as a whole. It’s unusual to have films from both the dramatic and comedic categories on the same playing field in the director category, but here McQueen, Cuaron, and Russell are sharing the same stage with three incredible pictures.

The case of the actors is an equally perplexing one this year. The only race that seems to be locked at this point is Lead Actress Drama, where Cate Blanchett will extend her reign over the category with a win for Blue Jasmine.

How things play out on the comedic end are sort of irrelevant at this point, seeing as Oscar nominations were turned in last week, though if the deadline had been extended, Amy Adams (the frontrunner at the Globes for American Hustle) might have been able to squeak in with Oscar voters. As it stands, she’ll do her part in pumping up support for the film alongside Christian Bale (also a likely winner in his respective category for the film, though Leo and Bruce aren’t out of the mix).

Jennifer Lawrence also has a legitimate shot at scoring a win for her supporting performance in American Hustle. At one time hovering around the fringes of the category at the beginning of the season, again the NYFCC pushed her into the race with early recognition, so much so that she’s now arguably neck-and-neck with previous frontrunner, 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o. Lawrence is everything the Globes love: she’s a worldwide superstar, she’s young, she’s hilarious, she’s endearing, and she’s got two films released over the past year that have been incredible critical and box-office successes. At the tender age of 23, she embodies not only a massive amount of contemporary success, but portents greatness for a massive career in the future as well.

For the men, the supporting category has been the most difficult, wide-open race for any category. Jared Leto has built a solid base for himself, earning rave reviews and a multitude of recognition from critics circles and precursors for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club, a role with massive awards appeal (he’s a straight male playing a loveable, endearing transgender woman in a showy, dramatic role). Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) shouldn’t be counted out of the race entirely, as both of their performances are in films that are frontrunners in other major categories (including Best Picture and Director), whereas Dallas Buyers Club has only resonated with Globes voters in the acting categories.

Many have brought up the appeal of Barkhad Abdi and his performance in Captain Phillips, though he’s a first-time, non-professional actor in his first role here. Let us not forget that the HFPA does not take warmly to anything small-scale (that’s the Academy’s job). This is the same voting base who shunned Beasts of the Southern Wild just last year. Its cast was primarily made up of non-actors in their first roles as well, and the HFPA loves to push pre-existing star-power and greatness to even more astronomical heights of success, and Abdi’s potential as an actor bodes little for future achievement.

i.2.matthew-mcconaughey-dallas-buyers-clubBest Actor Drama proves similarly murky. Chiwetel Ejiofor seemed all but indestructible for his performance in 12 Years a Slave, but as we slowly began to realize that the film had a weaker grip on awards voters as previously expected, his name all but fell back in line with the rest of the pack.

No one seems to be talking about Tom Hanks’ potential to burst ahead with a Globes win (no one can stop raving about his final scene in Captain Phillips), or how everyone is afraid to proclaim Matthew McConaughey as the category’s default frontrunner. His character has a distinguishable, showy arc, and the role calls for far more overt “acting” than, say, Ejiofor’s or Redford’s do. While Hanks is an international household name, McConaughey is earning industry-wide attention for his ability to transform his career from hunky rom-com staple to a legitimate, powerhouse actor’s actor in such a relatively short amount of time. A win here will be a win for not only Dallas Buyers Club, but also for Mud, and 2012’s Magic Mike.

Though he missed out on an all-important SAG nomination last month, I wouldn’t count Robert Redford out of the Globes race entirely. The film has support in another category (Best Original Score), so that means that the voters have seen it, have paid attention to it, and that there’s a small push for it beyond the Best Actor race, where it has been largely defined all season.

It’s a headache of a year that the Globes might be able to sift through and give us some much-needed direction. With only a short window open for Oscar voters to submit their final ballots (February 14th-February 25th), the Globes will probably have long since melted away from Oscar voters’ memories, as the DGA, PGA, SAG, and Independent Spirits each have ceremonies coming up within the next month or so.

What will most likely happen is that the Globes will build up the bases of those who are slightly ahead, and little else. 12 Years a Slave’s Oscar run entirely depends on the Globes, however. If it doesn’t walk away with any significant wins tonight, its chances with the Academy will likely dwindle. Gravity and American Hustle are far more marketable, have much larger box-office returns, and are general crowd-pleasers that didn’t sharply divide audiences or critics, and there’s no reason to believe that these two films will fare any differently with Oscar voters.

The Globes might not wield the same power with the Academy as they used to, but they’re no less fun to knock a few back with and watch as the mess of awards season comes (a little bit more) together under their tent.

FULL PREDICTIONS: 

Best Motion Picture – Drama: Gravity
Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy: American Hustle
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity Best Actor – Drama: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actor – Musical/Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress – Drama: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actress – Comedy/Musical: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Song: “Let It Go” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Frozen
Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: Blue is the Warmest Color

The Golden Globes air tonight at 7:00 PM EST on NBC.

Musing on “Argo” and the Globes; What Does this Mean for the Oscars?

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I liken Ben Affleck’s direction of Argo to that of a monkey using a brush to paint a smiley face. For what I assume some of you might think are the “right” reason, that’s the worst comparison in the world. Affleck has proven himself as a skilled filmmaker both in front of and behind the camera, spinning webs of cinematic greatness whilst honing focused, almost dialectic perspective on his prior features based in Boston, a town he’s largely familiar with (he spent a great deal of his young life in Cambridge). Of course, I’m not likening Affleck’s aptitude to that of a zoo animal. I merely think it’s the reception of his latest work, however, that makes it hard to see him as anything but an awards season actor-turned-director spectacle. Something unexpected from an unexpected source (in this case, not an entirely unexpected source, just one on a much bigger scale than what we’re used to, considering Argo has grossed in upwards of $100 million).

It’s hard to not compare Affleck’s awards season run these past few months to that of Kathryn Bigelow’s during the 2009-10 pre-Oscar period. Bigelow’s nomination and subsequent win for Best Director not only marked the Academy’s first official recognition of a woman in that category, but, for me, cemented the Academy’s existence as a purely cyclical machine of self-generating, self-whoring, pathetically pandering publicity. I assume this isn’t a surprise to many. I just wasn’t so readily accepting of Bigelow’s triumph that year as the rest of Hollywood seemed to be. At every commercial break, I recall the announcer touting the category for all it was worth: “Will Kathryn Bigelow become the first ever female to win for Best Director? Find out in thirty minutes.” Her gender became the go-to talking point of that year’s Oscars. Does that make her any less worthy? In some cases, yes. The Academy, perhaps nominating her based on merit alone, placed her there in a collective vote. But, her gender was marketed and exploited to generate hype which would eventually become self-fulfilling. In essence, her gender was her defining trait that night (It’s also interesting to note that Bigelow was given the cold shoulder from the Academy this year, indicating that the initial excitement of decorating a woman who directed a decent film four years ago has long since worn off).

While Affleck possesses little in the way of such “unique” aspects to define his presence on the awards circuit, his actor-turned-director status as well as his general likeability within the industry undoubtedly contributed to his name being thrown around this Oscar season. Alas, he wasn’t nominated in the category he was (at one time) largely expected to win (or at least give Steven Spielberg a run for his money). So, what went wrong? It’ll be interesting to see how Affleck’s combined Oscar snub/Globes takeover plays itself out, seeing as (as much as I don’t want to admit it) the earlier-than-usual deadline for Academy nomination ballots most likely played a huge factor in his lack of a nomination.

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The Globes usually hold little influence over the direction of awards season. They rarely have power to dictate what gets nominated at the Oscars, but often reaffirm the direction Academy members should take as they cast their ballots by reflecting what countless other guilds, critics circles, and Oscar season awards shows already have. Since Oscar voters weren’t able to see who won at the Golden Globes before voting, a very prominent piece of the usual awards season puzzle was missing. I’m not saying the Globes and Academy are mutually operational, it’s just that Affleck’s “snub” seems too huge to ignore when Argo gobbled up major accolades on Sunday (Affleck won for Direction, the film won in the dramatic category). If the timetable for the Globes ceremony and Oscar voting was “normal” this year, I think we’d be looking at a very different Oscar picture, one that included a lot more Ben Affleck and a lot less Benh Zeitlin.

So, does Globes success bode well for Argo at the Oscars? Maybe. Arguably, Argo is a more, how shall I put this, “worldy” film than Oscar juggernaut (and current frontrunner for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actor) Lincoln, its appeal stronger as a “Globes” film than an “Academy” film. The Academy will most likely still side with Spielberg, but the outpouring of anger from various Oscar pundits, critics, and general audiences alike has me infinitely baffled. It’s one thing to create something new out of source material as David O. Russell did with Silver Linings Playbook. It’s another to competently direct a glorified Wikipedia article, which is exactly what Argo is. It’s universally appealing, superficially suspenseful, reaffirming of traditional American values (that last shot? Come on.), and ultimately an adequate procedural. Argo does what it needs to do; it tells a fascinating story. It doesn’t however, take a historical occurrence and give it a “new” face for the medium as, say, The Impossible has done with its retelling of the events surrounding the 2004 tsunami. The Impossible uses the frame of true events to tell a much larger, cinematically rich story, making connections a simple A-leads-to-B recreation can’t. And that, my friends, is a choice of direction. Although, it’s unfair to hate a film for what it hasn’t accomplished, for what it hasn’t done, and what it is not.

If anything, the HFPA’s love for Argo could very well act as a major catalyst for the first write-in Oscar since Hal Mohr’s win for Best Cinematography in 1935. Is it allowed right now? Nope. But, there’s buzz within the industry that that’s just what Academy voters are planning to do for Affleck, but I’m not so certain the push is strong enough to overthrow Spielberg’s current position out front, or to warrant a compete overhaul of voting rules since write-in voting hasn’t been allowed for decades. For starters, Argo isn’t exactly filmmaking of the highest order–even its most vocal supporters would agree to that. It’s certainly not a film that will define an era as, say, films like Citizen Kane or Bonnie and Clyde. It’s not a monumental achievement for the medium, and certainly not worthy of taking away recognition from the likes of Zeitlin, Lee, and Russell. People seem to be more frustrated that their predictions were off thanks to one-two sucker punch snubs of two early Oscar frontrunners. At most, Argo has the potential to gain some sympathy votes in the Best Picture category, making it a viable contender to take on Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, the latter of which I think is poised to upset as well (the power of Weinstein got Jacki Weaver and David O. Russell surprise nominations in their respective categories. It can’t be denied).

I just so desperately want to think of Ben Affleck as a brush-equipped platypus or sloth; now that’s impressive.

Kidman, Weisz, Watts Surprise at 70th Golden Globes Nominations

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While nearly anyone introducing Taylor Swift prior to any performance will spontaneously combust for now having to utter the words “Golden Globe nominee” prior to her name, The HFPA surprises everyone this year with a set of nominations that are not only going to change the state of the Oscar race, but also are of justifiable presence.

Brian Austin Green did not have to broadcast himself moving the lips and miming the voice of a Megan Fox who refused to get out of her bed this morning, as the actress was awake and well as she announced the nominations for the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards alongside Jessica Alba this morning. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has a tendency to nominate big names over big talent, even going as far as to shove films into incorrect genres (The Tourist in Musical/Comedy two years ago) simply because A-list, crowd-pleasing stars populate them. In true form, they didn’t disappoint in that category this year; Nicole Kidman made her second surprise round on the Oscar watch front this morning as she was nominated again by a major precursor organization for her supporting performance in The Paperboy. Lee Daniels’ first post-Precious film was met with lukewarm reviews and a defeatist release schedule, and was never a part of the Oscar conversation until yesterday, when the Screen Actors Guild nominated Kidman.

It’s too soon to tell whether or not Kidman’s role will build enough buzz to keep up with the pack, but her edging out the likes of Maggie Smith (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was thought to be a surefire contender for many Globes) could very well lead to an Oscar nomination.

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Other surprising Globes drama includes the snub of Anna Karenina in all major categories although it oozed with standard Globes flair, Robert De Niro’s omission for his work in Silver Linings Playbook, and Beasts of the Southern Wild receiving a big fat zero in the nominations column. Anna Karenina wasn’t expected to make much of a splash at the Oscars, but the Hollywood Foreign Press has nominated Knightley in the past for her roles in lavish period pieces, one (Atonement) under the direction of Joe Wright, who also directed Anna Karenina. De Niro will still receive an Oscar nomination, and it’s safe to assume Christoph Waltz edged him out slightly here, but it’s good to see Quentin Tarantino’s latest effort, Django Unchained, pick up some late-season momentum heading into the Oscar race, a race which many had deemed its chances slim after advanced screenings began earlier this year.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, on the other hand, is a much more puzzling case. It’s generated enough buzz to be more than just “looked over,” but it failed to make much of a box office dent anywhere outside the United States ($1.2 million in the UK was its strongest run), and is expected to be nominated in at least two major categories at the Academy Awards (Best Actress for little Quvenzhane Wallis, and Best Picture). The case reminds me of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and its lack of nominations at the Globes last year. Both are currently my #1 film of the year (this supports my theory that the HFPA is against me), and both are enigmatic to a certain extent, stylistically superior to their competition, and both made under $15 million at the U.S. box-office, cumulative totals under $55 million worldwide.

Following a New York Film Critics Circle win, Rachel Weisz’s performance in The Deep Blue Sea picked up another major nomination, this time for Best Actress – Drama, from the HFPA. The film had an extremely limited release in the United States, but is widely available on Netflix as I write this. Her performance is tender, vulnerable, but never approaching the grating hysterical levels many actresses succumb to in roles like this. What excites me most is the building momentum for Jessica Chastain’s work in Zero Dark Thirty, which is quickly making the Best Actress race a neck-and-neck bloodbath between Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. Chastain was largely overlooked for her work last year (she appeared in six fantastic films, each performance Oscar-worthy in its own right), but she has a serious shot at taking home the Best Actress Oscar come February. Although not in the same genre category as Lawrence’s nomination, a Golden Globe win (which she’s poised to do, none of her competition has generated as much precursor buzz than she, save for maybe Marion Cotillard) will give Chastain a veritable shove to the front of the Best Actress line.  It’s also great to see Naomi Watts make it into the category for her work in The Impossible, a Spanish production (with primarily English-speaking cast) that lost a majority of its Oscar buzz as other, higher-profile pictures pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line. Watts is long overdue for an Oscar win, so let’s hope this year can at least garner her a nomination (this push will certainly help).

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On the television side of things, HBO’s fabulous Girls receives two nominations (Best Actress for Lena Dunham, Best Comedy Series) and is poised to upset Modern Family just before its second season begins in January. Game Change, “that Sarah Palin movie,” picked up a handful of nominations as well, making HBO a veritable force on both dramatic and comedic fronts this year.

The least surprising nominations in television come in the form of Homeland’s nods in the lead acting and overall series categories. No surprise as the show continues to prove itself as the best on contemporary television.

All in all, the HFPA earns a solid B this year for their nominations. They’ve effectively stirred the pot without looking completely ridiculous, as they’ve sacrificed integrity for star power in nominating A-list superstars in silly unrelated categories in the past. HFPA, I tip my hat to you this year, but rap you on the nose with it on the way down for leaving Beasts out of the equation.

Full nominees:

MOVIES:

Best Picture, Drama:
“Argo”
“Django Unchained”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy:
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
“Les Misérables”
“Moonrise Kindgom”
“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Director:
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”

Best Actress, Drama:
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
Rachel Weisz, “The Deep Blue Sea”

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Best Actor, Drama:
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Richard Gere, “Arbitrage”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy:
Jack Black, “Bernie”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables ”
Ewan MCGregor, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
Bill Murray, “Hyde Park on Hudson”

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy:
Emily Blunt, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
Judi Dench, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Maggie Smith, “Quartet”
Meryl Streep, “Hope Springs”

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “The Master”
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy”

Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Best Screenplay:
Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
Chris Terrio, “Argo”

Best Original Score:
Dario Marianelli, “Anna Karenina”
Alexandre Desplat, “Argo”
Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimet & Reinhold Heil, “Cloud Atlas”
Michael Danna, “Life of Pi”
John Williams, “Lincoln”

Best Original Song:
“For You” from “Act of Valor”
“Not Running Anymore” from “Stand Up Guys”
“Safe and Sound” from “The Hunger Games”
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Amour”
“A Royal Affair”
“The Intouchables”
“Kon-Tiki”
“Rust and Bone”

Best Animated Feature:
“Rise of the Guardians”
“Brave”
“Frankenweenie”
“Hotel Transylvania”
“Wreck-It Ralph”

Cecil B. DeMille Award:
Jodie Foster

TELEVISION:
Best Television Comedy or Musical:
“The Big Bang Theory”
“Episodes”
“Girls”
“Modern Family”
“Smash”

Best Television Drama:
“Breaking Bad”
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Downton Abbey”
“Homeland”
“The Newsroom”

Best Miniseries or Television Movie:
“Game Change”
“The Girl”
“Hatfields & McCoys”
“The Hour”
“Political Animals”

Best Actress, Television Drama:
Connie Britton, “Nashville”
Glenn Close, “Damages”
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

Best Actor, Television Drama:
Best Actor, TV Drama Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Damian Lewis, “Homeland”

Best Actress, Television Comedy Or Musical:
Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Amy Poehler, “Parks And Recreation”

Best Actor, Television Comedy Or Musical:
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Louis C.K., “Louis”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Best Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Nicole Kidman, “Hemingway and Gellhorn”
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Asylum”
Sienna Miller, “The Girl”
Julianne Moore, “Game Change”
Sigourney Weaver, “Political Animals”

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Kevin Costner, “Hatfields and McCoys”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”
Woody Harrelson, “Game Change”
Toby Jones, “The Girl”
Clive Owen, “Hemingway and Gellhorn”

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Hayden Panettiere, “Nashville”
Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife”
Sarah Paulson, “Game Change”
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Max Greenfield, “New Girl”
Ed Harris, “Game Change”
Danny Huston, “Magic City”
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

69th Annual Golden Globes Noms: Shunning ‘Tree,’ ‘Martha,’ Whoring Angie (Again)

Jessica Chastain, actress most deserving of acclaim this year, nabs another high profile nomination in the 69th Annual Golden Globes for her role in "The Help"

While the HFPA is still busy being…well, the HFPA…I’m kinda digging their “alternative” noms this year (an extra BP – Drama nomination? “W.E.” scoring double nominations in technicals? I’ll take it…). Even if their fame whoring antics are more obvious than ever. “In the Land of Blood & Honey” getting in for foreign? Isn’t that USA-produced? I guess if we’re going to get technical, the category is “Foreign Language” film, but had “Blood” been helmed by anyone other than HFPA darling Angelina Jolie, would it have even been a contender at all? Anything to get Angie on the Globes’ carpet, I guess…it just baffles me that we’re pandering that unabashedly to a mainstream audience whose proven…year after year…that the Globes are a ratings mainstay in the pre-Oscar race. These kinds of categories usually remain strictly foreign-produced in terms of their nominees, and I guess because the category isn’t technically “foreign produced” film, this one’s legit. But I just hate to see the norm broken in such an obvious plot to land Angie’s face on Sunday primetime for a few minutes.

I mean, I don’t have a “problem,” per se, I just think the HFPA’s point with including “Blood” could have easily been made in a different category (Direction, maybe? That’d really get her on your good side) versus one which usually gives actual “foreign” films a platform in the States. “Blood” already has a built-in audience because of Angie’s attachment and will have no problem finding its niche within the market once its release rolls around.

But once again, I gave the HFPA a little too much credit this year…I thought of all the precursors, they’d be the most likely to show Elizabeth Olsen (who took out the entire acting career of her sisters’ in one fell swoop) would pull out a surprise nomination, but alas “Martha Marcy May Marlene”‘s chances are taking a nose dive right now.

Elizabeth Olsen, whose brilliant work in "Marth Marcy May Marlene" was snubbed once again, this time by the HFPA

And what’s that, I spy? Another nomination for Jessica Chastain ♥ Too bad her impending Oscar nomination is going to be for “The Help” versus “Tree of Life,” just when I thought Malick’s masterpiece was gaining some momentum with the other precursors, the HFPA snubs it entirely. Thanks for shitting on that too, guys.

But I think we’re finally starting to get the clearest picture of what this year’s Oscar nominees will look like. I ain’t mad, but it’s always a letdown when the yearly crop of awards bait becomes entirely too predictible to place into their Oscar nomination slots.

Best Drama
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
War Horse

Best Comedy/Musical
50/50
The Artist
Bridesmaids
Carnage
Midnight in Paris
My Week With Marilyn

Best Animated Film
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Rango
Puss in Boots
The Adventures of  Tintin

Best Foreign Language Film
The Flowers of War
In the Land of Blood and Honey
The Kid With a Bike
A Separation
The Skin I Live In

Best Actor in a Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Actor
 in a Motion Picture
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

Best Actress in a Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help

Best Director

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants
Steve Zallian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin, Michael Lewis, Moneyball
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Howard Shore, Hugo
John Williams, War Horse

Best Original Song in a Motion Picture
“Hello Hello,” Gnomeo & Juliet
“The Keeper,” Machine Gun Preacher
“Lay Your Head Down,” Albert Nobbs
“The Living Proof,” The Help
“Masterpiece,” W.E.

Best TV Drama
American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
Boss
Game of Thrones
Homeland

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Enlightened
Episodes
Glee
Modern Family
New Girl

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture
Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Hour
Mildred Pierce
Too Big to Fail

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
David Duchovny, Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Idris Elba, Luther
William Hurt, Too Big to Fail
Bill Nighy, Page Eight
Dominic West, The Hour

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Miniseries, or Made-for-TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness

Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Romola Garai, The Hour
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Miniseries, or Made-for-TV Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce

Someone’s Hot For Oscar; Predicting the Academy Award Nominations

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To begin this year’s Oscar predictions with continued harping over last year’s pitiful excuse for an Academy Awards ceremony would be to completely demean the conspicuously-outstanding American cinematic offerings 2010 served up. But to hell with that, I’m in the mood for bitching, and Kathryn Bigelow and Sandra Bullock still personally owe me for the distress they caused in my life around this time last year.  I’ll most likely be taking my tears and backhanded compliments elsewhere this year, particularly casting shade on what, if the Golden Globes are any indication, could potentially turn out to upset even last year’s Oscar telecast as one of the worst in the AMPAS’ longstanding (and long-respected) history.

The problem I’ve had with the Academy for quite some time now is their increasing insistence on insulting their many followers, not unlike myself, who somehow find it within themselves to hinge what is basically their entire lives on a single telecast that’s gradually making its way down from being the precipice of artistic recognition to a night full of industry favors upheld by a “we need to like you so people like us” nomination process. If last year taught us anything, it’s that giving into societal agendas and journalistic ideals of catchy headlines (First Woman Wins Best Director!) for free press has apparently turned into the Academy’s game.  I mean, absolutely no one but a casual moviegoing public who didn’t see much more than the commercially-friendly The Blind Side could possibly even begin to consider Sandy’s performance as 2009’s crowning achievement of female performances.  The fact remains that Sandra Bullock is a crowd-pleasing, widely-appealing ‘star’ and not a gifted actress. She’s an essential part of what makes Hollywood a business; she’s marketable, relatable, likeable, and just rubs America the right way in general, making it easy for the AMPAS to align themselves with her.

All bitching aside, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this year’s race to watch out for is Supporting Actress, a category that’s generally one-sided and ultimately locked months before the nomination process even begins. No clear frontrunner has emerged amidst a group of women whose performances are as brilliant as they are ambiguously fitting for both the Lead and Supporting categories (I’m looking at you, Lesley Manfield and Hailee Steinfeld). Both could fall into either category depending on how the Academy chooses to dole out the nominations this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they give both potentials a spot in the Supporting category to make room for some powerhouse players in the Lead category (I’m thinking Moore, Kidman, Williams, and even Swank as an outside pick have a shot this year).  Amy Adams is the only definitive lock at this point, with Melissa Leo potentially creeping in as the category’s alternate. The case of Mila Kunis, on the other hand, is one that has me scratching my head a bit; Her work in the film clearly pales in comparison to what she’ll potentially be up against, seeing as she’s the obligatory “let’s fit the seeming frontrunner into as many categories as possible to up its tally” acting nomination this year. Her’s is neither a girthy or substantial role at all with literally not much for her to work with. A sufficient turn, but nothing Oscar-worthy. I do love me some sweet lips, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like her role is one which is enhanced by  the atmospherics and diegetic emphasis placed upon it, not necessarily by the output of Kunis herself. It’s a role anyone would have been nominated for if they were casted in it simply because of the containing film’s momentum going into the nominations, it just so happens Mila was lucky enough to get it. You can’t forget about Helena Bonham Carter either, although something’s telling me she could be the surprise snub (although rightfully so) of the Awards this year.

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Keeping up with the ladies of 2010, Lead Actress should prove no less exciting than Supporting Actress will be. Annette Bening and Natalie Portman have been locks for months now, and not a thing will change that by come tomorrow morning. I’m confident in placing Kidman as the third in line as of right now, with Moore trailing just behind her. The fifth spot, however, is a complete toss-up. It’s hard to say who exactly would “fit” in with the typical awards season momentum going into the nominations (seeing as not one other performance has consistently garnered accolades across the circuit), but at this point I’m most inclined to say Michelle Williams (interchangeable with Lesley Manville or Steinfeld, if one or both are not placed in Supporting, with Moore as the other alternate here as well) is the likely holder of the fifth spot. I’d be entirely unsurprised if Jennifer Lawrence or even Hilary Swank made their way past Williams despite their earlier-in-the-year releases losing the majority of the buzz they’d garnered. This fifth spot becomes entirely crucial to Portman’s road to a win on Oscar night as well, seeing as a win is most likely for her if both Leading Ladies from The Kids are All Right snag spots (Bening is a lock, Moore is up in the air) as the Academy could likely split if this is the scenario.

The men’s race has been pretty low-key this year, seeing as veteran mainstays (Jeff Bridges, Robert DuVall) each gave expert turns in crucially-timed-and-released pictures that pandered directly to Oscar voters. James Franco is likely to sneak into the fifth spot based on the director’s namesake on his performance’s containing film alone, trailing just behind Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth for their respective turns in Lead roles. Supporting male is, for the second year in a row, the least enticing of all the acting categories this year. Christian Bale obviously leads the pack in terms of buzz coming off of his crucial win at the Globes, and putting your money on Geoffrey Rush as a potential nominee wouldn’t be a bad idea either. The rest of the slots are a complete toss-up, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who could potentially fill the rest of the slots, ranging anywhere from Jeremy Renner in The Town to even Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Director should also prove to be an interesting race albeit a tad predictable in terms of the nominations. I can’t see anyone other than Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Christopher Nolan even coming close to snagging a nomination slot aside from the slight chance that The Coen’s might edge out Russell.

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The now-all-inclusive Best Picture race is proving to be a tad more exciting than last year’s as well, with about 11 or 12 of the year’s best films all realistically vying for the coveted 10 slots. Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, and True Grit are all definitive locks and that’s no surprise to anyone; it’s the remaining 3 slots that have me stumped. I can absolutely see the Academy pandering to the Indie crowd they sort of drastically alienated over the past two years and giving both Another Year and Blue Valentine (I can dream, can’t I?) some love, and placing Inception atop the package as a finishing touch to please the masses. A long outside guess has me thinking The Town or 127 Hours could sneak in there as well.

But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that the AMPAS are growing increasingly more liberal with their classification choices in many major categories (ahem, going as far as to consider Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader as Leading and placing The Blind Side alongside Precious and An Education in the Best Picture category) and that’s ultimately what I think this year’s major categories will come down to as well; how the Academy decided to classify certain performances over others. But I can’t say I’ll be surprised at any of what unfolds tomorrow morning, just elated that neither Kathryn Bigelow, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Winslet will be  without cause for celebration come 5:30 AM.

PREDICTIONS

Best Picture

Black Swan

The King’s Speech

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The Social Network

True Grit

Inception

Blue Valentine

Toy Story 3

Outside Shots: Shutter Island, Another Year, Winter’s Bone

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

Outside Shots: Hilary Swank Conviction, Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone, Hailee Steinfeld True Grit

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Robert DuVall, Get Low

Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

Outside Shots: James Franco 127 Hours

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Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, The Figther

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Mila Kunis, Black Swan

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Outside Shots: Lesley Manville, Another Year

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

Jeremy Renner, The Town

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Christopher Nolan, Inception

David O. Russell, The Fighter

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

David Fincher, The Social Network

Outside Shots: Mike Leigh Another Year, Martin Scorcese Shutter Island, The Coen Brothers True Grit

The Canada of Awards Season; Predicting the Winners

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Awards season typically unfolds in one of two fashions; predictably or, um, unpredictably.  And in a year when the pickings are as slim as Isabelle Caro’s arms and quality cinema sticks out just as much as her ribs (pa-POW, two too-soons in a row!), it remains the sole responsibility for the Hollywood Foreign Press-Whores Association to stir things up as best as they can.

In what can be viewed as perhaps the most hilariously out-of-touch years for the HFPA, 2010 ended up reaffirming what everyone already knew to be true; the Association is nothing more than a large group of aging (and annoyingly sentimental) gays whose only purpose is to be entirely unsurprising in their overly-gracious ‘recognition’ of an undeserving Hollywood elite, festering their own delirious attempts at ousting the Oscars as the King (who am I kidding…Queen) of all awards shows. I mean, did anyone aside from the cultured gay sub-community actually see Burlesque or The Tourist? Both films are nominated in the Comedic Picture categories more than once, baffling both mainstream critics, bloggers, and generally anyone with a pair of eyes, the ability to sit through Burlesque, and their impending (undoubtedly viscious) negative response to it. One theory suggests that producers and publicists for the film actually carted large portions of the HFPA away on vacation and sent each and every one of them a gift basket that included the film on pre-release DVD. Apparently one such member of the HFPA was insulted enough by receiving a copy of Cher’s Immobile Face from the film’s publicity department that he shot Ronni Chasen. But who could blame him? Self defense is entirely understandable, and receiving a copy of that film can certainly be considered an attack on one’s safety.

And I guess the point I’m trying to arrive at is that the Comedic categories of the Globes seem only to serve the purpose of promoting that one ‘good’ Comedy, the ‘offbeat’ critics’ darling that no one really saw. This year that film would undoubtedly be The Kids Are All Right, literally a drama yet holed into the comedic category in an attempt at inclusivity that ends up alienating more than encompassing due to the category’s lack of serious legitimacy audiences have learned to regard such a subdivision with.  I mean, it just looks comical to have one of the most progressive, impactful, socially-relevant, and emotionally-touching portraits of a contemporary family nominated next to a film that celebrates superficiality and cattiness. I’m looking at you again, Burlesque. Photobucket

But enough of my usual pre-telecast bitching, I’ll let the nominees speak for themselves. Peep my predictions for the impending snoozefest below:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Black Swan (2010) – Predicted Winner 

The Fighter (2010)

Inception (2010)

The King’s Speech (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

The HFPA seems to have gravitated towards Arronofsky’s body of work more quickly than the AMPAS, and for that I genuinely give them credit. Their flair for unabashed theatrics and true melodrama (artful, skilled melodrama, not the cliché kind) incline me to believe Black Swan will undoubtedly take the cake here, seeing as the massive amounts of buzz surrounding the picture have literally quadrupled in intensity since the film’s release has gone wider and wider.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Burlesque (2010/I)

The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Predicted Winner

Red (2010/I)

The Tourist (2010)

Do I even need to explain?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (2010) – Predicted Winner

James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (2010)

Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter (2010)

My hope is that the AMPAS takes note of the HFPA’s insistence on nominating smaller pictures with little to no mainstream support this year, seeing as Blue Valentine contains a truly career-defining performance that will undoubtedly go down as Gosling’s best. I’m not sure if he or Franco can muster the votes to pull off a win in the category (Wahlberg’s in the same boat as well) seeing as the performances don’t have enough critical backing, and Eisenberg’s performance is nothing more than a tack-on to the far too long list of things The Social Network has been decorated with simply because it’s currently socially relevant (but will soon disappear like the fad its subject material is), so the only reasonable outcome I can see here is that the HFPA award Firth a win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Halle Berry for Frankie and Alice (2010)

Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010) – Predicted Winner

Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (2010)

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Jennifer Lawrence’s buzz got a little exciting there, didn’t it? I thought she was a shoe-in for Best Actress at the upcoming Oscars, but the sheer intensity of the categorical race this late in the game could shut her out entirely, seeing as Hollywood Elite actresses have all but erased her from critical leaderboards with their names alone. I have such a hard time believing Frankie and Alice was seen by the entire HFPA let alone Berry’s performance being good enough to warrant a nomination, but I guess we’ll never know considering the film has yet to see substantial (and backed) commercial release. I’m in love with Williams’ recognition, however, seeing as her performance is hands-down the most painful and moving of the year. It’ll come down to a battle of whose name is bigger, however, with Kidman likely to edge out Portman.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Johnny Depp for The Tourist (2010)

Johnny Depp for Alice in Wonderland (2010) – Predicted Winner

Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version (2010)

Jake Gyllenhaal for Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Kevin Spacey for Casino Jack (2010)

I swear to god the jokers in the HFPA look through the year’s resumes for Hollywood Elite and pick the one categorical film that actor did and nominated it simply because the industry produced nothing more substantial during the year. I have no idea where to even begin speculation surrounding these men, considering the awards season buzz for each and every single one of these performances has been literally nonexistent even after these nominees were announced. I’m assuming Depp’s votes will split, but then again the other performances nominated have little critical backing and would look ridiculous on the HFPA’s hands. I’m truly stumped on this one, so I’ll give it to “the name” because I have no idea who else to suspect.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Predicted Winner

Anne Hathaway for Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Angelina Jolie for The Tourist (2010)

Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Emma Stone for Easy A (2010)

The words “Angelina Jolie” and “comedy” simply don’t go together, and even she (speaking at the premiere of the film she’s nominated for here) mocked her inclusion in the category earlier last year. I’m truly glad to see Emma Stone get some recognition for a performance that actually fits within the typical standards of what one might consider a truly skilled “Comedic” performance. If it were up to me, Stone would win based on legitimately being apart of the only real ‘comedy’ within this list of nominees, but Bening will win in order to cement the HFPA’s credibility when she wins her Oscar later this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)

Michael Douglas for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Andrew Garfield for The Social Network (2010)

Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)

Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (2010) – Predicted Winner

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010) – Predicted Winner

Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech (2010)

Mila Kunis for Black Swan (2010)

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Best Director – Motion Picture

Nominees:

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010) – Predicted Winner

David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (2010)

Christopher Nolan for Inception (2010)

David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Nominees:

127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy

Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Stuart Blumberg, Lisa CholodenkoPredicted Winner

The King’s Speech (2010): David Seidler

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Nominees:

Burlesque (2010/I): Samuel Dixon, Christina Aguilera, Sia Furler(“Bound to You”)

Burlesque (2010/I): Diane Warren(“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me”) – Predicted Winner 

Country Strong (2010): Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges(“Coming Home”)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010): Carrie Underwood, David Hodges, Hillary Lindsey(“There’s A Place For Us”)

Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater(“I See the Light”)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Nominees:

127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Danny Elfman

Inception (2010): Hans ZimmerPredicted Winner

The King’s Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat

The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Animated Film

Nominees:

Despicable Me (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

The Illusionist (2010)

Tangled (2010)

Toy Story 3 (2010) – Predicted Winner

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

Biutiful (2010)(Mexico/Spain) – Predicted Winner 

The Concert (2009)(France)

The Edge (2010)(Russia)

I Am Love (2009)(Italy)

In a Better World (2010)(Denmark)

Best Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

“Boardwalk Empire” (2009) – Predicted Winner

“Dexter” (2006)

“The Good Wife” (2009)

“Mad Men” (2007)

“The Walking Dead” (2010)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

“The Big Bang Theory” (2007)

“The Big C” (2010)

“Glee” (2009)

“Modern Family” (2009) – Predicted Winner

“Nurse Jackie” (2009)

“30 Rock” (2006)

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

“Carlos” (2010)

“The Pacific” (2010)

“The Pillars of the Earth” (2010)

Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

You Don’t Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Hayley Atwell for “The Pillars of the Earth” (2010)

Claire Danes for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

Judi Dench for “Cranford” (2007)

Romola Garai for “Emma” (2009)

Jennifer Love Hewitt for The Client List (2010) (TV)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Alec Baldwin for “30 Rock” (2006) – Predicted Winner

Steve Carell for “The Office” (2005)

Thomas Jane for “Hung” (2009)

Matthew Morrison for “Glee” (2009)

Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” (2007)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Toni Collette for “United States of Tara” (2009)

Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie” (2009)

Tina Fey for “30 Rock” (2006) – Predicted Winner

Laura Linney for “The Big C” (2010)

Lea Michele for “Glee” (2009)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

Steve Buscemi for “Boardwalk Empire” (2009)

Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad” (2008) – Predicted Winner

Michael C. Hall for “Dexter” (2006)

Jon Hamm for “Mad Men” (2007)

Hugh Laurie for “House M.D.” (2004)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife” (2009) – Predicted Winner

Elisabeth Moss for “Mad Men” (2007)

Piper Perabo for “Covert Affairs” (2010)

Katey Sagal for “Sons of Anarchy” (2008)

Kyra Sedgwick for “The Closer” (2005)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Scott Caan for “Hawaii Five-0” (2010)

Chris Colfer for “Glee” (2009)

Chris Noth for “The Good Wife” (2009)

Eric Stonestreet for “Modern Family” (2009)

David Strathairn for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Hope Davis for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Jane Lynch for “Glee” (2009) –  Predicted Winner

Kelly Macdonald for “Boardwalk Empire” (2009)

Julia Stiles for “Dexter” (2006)

Sofía Vergara for “Modern Family” (2009)