Golden Globe Picks and Predicts

The Golden Globes will be handed out this weekend, which means that Hollywood is officially entering the thick of Oscar Season. Do the Globes really matter, though? Well, yes and no. “No” because they are awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press, a group made up of approximately 80 critics who write for various trade publications. There aren’t any significant critics among the bunch (no Roger Eberts or Peter Travers); however, these folks have a bit of a reputation. They are the only group without a ban on favours, gifts, etc., which is something that studios and Sharon Stone often use to their advantage. The Globes, however, do matter because they offer the first awards seen by most of the public – since the Globes are the first to air on TV, the winners enjoy a higher degree of coverage and discussion, which usually results in a wider release and, therefore, more exposure and appreciation. That being said, in the past decade, only five films won both the GG and the Oscar: Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, The Return of the King, and Slumdog Millionaire.

How will the races shape up? Who knows? Part of what makes the Globes so enjoyable, regardless of their relevance, is their unpredictability – recall last year’s win of The Hangover over Julie & Julia, Nine, and (500) Days of Summer. This year should be exciting because there are several races that seem close. Which names are called might be predictable, but alternatively, some front-runners could be blind-sided by the competition (I promise to stop the Sandra Bullock jokes after this award season.)

My picks and predictions in the major film categories:

 Best Picture – Drama
The Social Network
It sounds like The Social Network cannot be stopped on its way to a Best Picture win. Having swept virtually every critics prize handed out so far and topping critics’ Top Ten lists exponentially more than any other film, it’s definitely the front-runner. If the HFPA recognizes that Social isn’t all that brave, since it essentially just throws eggs and tomatoes at Mark Zuckerberg in order to allow his product go unscathed, it might not win. The HFPA, additionally, rewards emotionally driven films most often, and The Social Network, while spectacularly produced, has as much heart as a suit of armour. The King’s Speech, however, offers just that – emotion. It’s also a flawless production. Add to that it’s higher tally of nominations, The King’s Speech might be the only film that can dethrone the Facebook movie.
Tying The Social Network with six nods is The Fighter. The Fighter, though, should probably content itself with its nomination and will more likely be acknowledged only in the acting categories. Likewise, Inception is a worthy nominee; moreover, it’s exactly the kind of blockbuster favoured by the Globes, but is that enough? Personally, I’m rooting for Black Swan. It’s surprising to see such an original, small, independent production among the nominees, but that proves that regardless of whatever triumphs, the HFPA can’t be accused of bad taste.
Will win: The Social Network
Should win: Black Swan

Best Picture – Comedy/ Musical
The Kids Are All Right
The largest disaster of this year’s nominees is the Best Picture – Comedy/Musical category. Burlesque randomly popped up here, proving that films need only to be a musical to be nominated. At least Burlesque is better than fellow nominee Alice in Wonderland, which deserves only Golden Raspberries. Nominees Red and The Tourist are fun escapist fare, but better films were omitted from the ballot – see Barney’s Version, Made in Dagenham, and Please Give. The only foreseeable victor here is The Kids Are All Right – a smart, important, and above all, funny film.
Will win/ Should win: The Kids Are All Right

Best Director:
David Fincher
For almost all the reasons stated in the Drama race, David Fincher will take the prize for helming The Social Network. A win for Fincher would not be unworthy, for the film is well crafted to a fault. While Darren Aronofsky or Christopher Nolan should win for Black Swan and Inception respectively, Fincher’s win seems like one of the sure things of the night. Tom Hooper could ride the love for The King’s Speech, and David O’Russell might do the same with The Fighter, but even they seem like unlikely candidates.
Will win: David Fincher, The Social Network
Should win: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Best Actor – Drama
Colin Firth in The Kings Speech
Colin Firth is the front-runner for The King’s Speech and he wholly deserves each accolade that this season has brought him. The Best Actor race mirrors the Best Picture race in that Firth’s closest competition comes from Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg is a tough choice, though, because he plays such an unlikeable character, and many moviegoers, myself included, often make the mistake of conflating character with performance. Similar to the Best Picture race, Mark Wahlberg coulda’ been a contender for The Fighter, but he will have to settle for another year. James Franco could make an upset, however, for 127 Hours, as could dark horse Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine, which I have not yet had the pleasure to see.
Will win/ Should win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Actress – Drama
It is no surprise who I’m rooting for – Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Having seen the film for a second time, Portman’s performance vastly surpasses the complexity and range of all the other nominees in the other fields. The race is hers to lose. The biggest spoiler could be Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole – it’s one of the strongest performances of her career and the HFPA has awarded Kidman three times already (for To Die For, Moulin Rouge!, and The Hours). Rabbit Hole missed some expected nominations, however, such as Dianne Wiest for Best Supporting Actress, so the film may not have much support. On that note, Jennifer Lawrence may be the one to overthrow Portman with her astonishing breakthrough in Winter’s Bone. Also nominated is Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine, but like Gosling, it’s hard to imagine her winning. The surprise nominee of the group is Halle Berry for Frankie & Alice: The film has received little buzz since its premiere on the festival circuit months ago, much of which was mixed. Like all the films represented in this category, however, Frankie & Alice is a small production that greatly needs the exposure from the awards run. It’s also a Canadian production, so I wish Berry and the film the best of luck!
Will/Should win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Actor: Comedy
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
This might be one of the more difficult races to judge. Johnny Depp is a double nominee here for Alice in Wonderland and The Tourist…let’s hope that he cancels himself out.  Kevin Spacey is always popular and he’s supposed to be good in Casino Jack, but the film itself has made little noise. I think the race will come down to Jake Gyllenhaal for Love and Other Drugs versus Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version. Gyllenhaal probably gives his best work to date in Drugs and the recognition of his co-star Anne Hathaway suggests more support for the film. Giamatti also gives some of his strongest work as Barney – his riotous embodiment of Mordecai Richler’s anti-hero is the most impressive comedic work of 2010. Love and Other Drugs bombed, though, while Barney’s Version is only making its way to theatres now…
Will win: Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
 Should win: Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version

Best Actress – Comedy
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
This category should be one to keep an eye on during the night. Not because there should be any surprises, but more to see if things go as expected. Annette Bening is probably the front-runner for Best Actress for her work in The Kids Are All Right. If Bening wins, then both she and Natalie Portman start competing against one another with roughly equal footing. Bening’s strongest competition comes from her Kids co-star Julianne Moore. It’s hard to say which actress is more worthy: Bening gets the more dramatic part and she has the film’s “biggest” scene. (The scene where Nic “finds out.”) Moore, however, gets the funnier role of the pair, and she offers a groovy naturalness that makes her performance equally impressive, but less obviously so. The other nominees, Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs), Angelina Jolie (The Tourist), and Emma Stone (Easy A) are all worthy nominees, but they can only sit back and enjoy the show. One final note: Sally Hawkins was robbed!
Will win: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Should win: Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
This race has been neck and neck between Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Christian Bale (The Fighter) since awards season began. In the most recent awards, handed out by the National Society of Film Critics, Rush beat Bale by a single vote. Both performers offer impressive feats of scene-chewing, but only Bale’s performance, while admirable, feels overbearing. Rush, on the other hand, offers an impressive feat of comedy and humility. His work is easily the best part of The King’s Speech, which says a lot, considering the strength of the lead performance by Colin Firth. Still, The Fighter has to win something, doesn’t it? The race between Rush and Bale will likely end in a photo finish that sees nominees Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) and Jeremy Renner (The Town) lost in their dust.
Will win: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Should win: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Going off my train of thought in the previous category, with six nominations, The Fighter has to win something. Either supporting category seems the most likely spot, if not both. The Fighter has two chances in Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Adams is no stranger to the Globes, having received nods for Enchanted and Doubt. The HFPA passed Leo over in 2008 for her Oscar nominated work in Frozen River, but that could be attributed to their reluctance to acknowledge independent fare. Both Adams and Leo offer impressive work in The Fighter – their performances are among the film’s strongest elements. Fans and critics seem to be divided regarding who gives the better performance, too. Leo, however, is winning more of the critics’ prizes and thus seems to have the edge. Unless she and Adams cancel each other out. In that case, Helena Bonham Carter could sneak in for The King’s Speech, but although she’s a worthy candidate, it’s unlikely. The same goes for Mila Kunis in Black Swan – she’s great, but the buzz for Black Swan is all about Natalie (and if anyone from Black Swan deserves to be recognized here, it’s Barbara Hershey). That leaves Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom. Weaver’s gives the kind of captivating performance that should and usually does win, but Animal Kingdom is a small Australian film that received a fairly limited release. It is reported that Sony Pictures was the first studio to send screeners out to voters, with Animal Kingdom being among the group. If enough voters watched it, Weaver wins.
Will win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Should win: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom


Best Screenplay
127 Hours – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech­ – David Seidler
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Will win: The Social Network
Should win: The Kids Are All Right

Best Score:
127 Hours, AR Rahman
Alice in Wonderland, Danny Elfman (how?)
Inception, Hans Zimmer
The Kings Speech, Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Will win: The Social Network (tough call…)
Should win: Inception

Best Song:
Burlesque, “Bound to You”
Burlesque, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”
Country Strong, “Coming Home”
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, “There’s a Place for Us”
Tangled, “I See the Light”
Will win: Tangled (that’s a wild guess, though)
Should win: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”
Best Foreign Film:
Biutiful (Mexico)
The Concert (France)
The Edge (Russia)
I am Love (Italy)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Will/should win: I am Love

Best Animated film:
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3
Will win: Toy Story 3
Should win:  (I haven’t seen enough to judge…)

Agree or disagree? I hope that the HFPA will shake things up a little and make the Best Picture race a little more exciting. In the meantime, I’ll cross my fingers for Black Swan and Jacki Weaver.