Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oscar 2012: the Golden Globe Nominations

Until the guilds and the Critics Choice Awards wielded greater influence, the Golden Globes were considered the traditional bellwether of who would eventually be nominated for, and win, Academy Awards. Their choices today still make an impact and keep films and the associated talent in the conversation. If nothing else, they remain an excellent venue for Ricky Gervais to ridicule movie stars in their natural element and for stars to be legitimately inebriated on live television (hello Ryan Philippe in 2006, with Reese Witherspoon’s smile turning into a clenched grin as the evening wore on).

I won’t bore you by explaining how the status quo remains unchanged for The Artist, Hugo, Moneyball, The Descendants and The Help. Look for just about each of these films to receive at least one prize each when the winners are unveiled on January 15. Let’s instead focus on the films that got a boost today from their recognition.

Top of mind is George Clooney’s other effort, his The Ides of March. Everyone knows that the Hollywood Foreign Press, who determines the nominees and winners, absolutely loves Clooney the way the National Board of Review does. This year, they nominated him not just for his almost-assured Oscar nom for The Descendants, they honoured him as a Best Director and a Best Screenplay finalist. Ides was floundering in the race and its four high-profile nominations keep it in the mix. It’s not over for the critically acclaimed fall drama quite yet. In fact, the film’s more serious adult drama tone bears a lot of similarities in the run-up to Oscar for 2007’s Michael Clayton, which also starred Clooney. What Ides needs to be kept top of mind are nominations from the producers’, writers’ and directors’ guilds to make a serious play for Oscar.

Another double nominee and surprise beneficiary is Ryan Gosling, seemingly everywhere as a leading man this year. Both of his nods this morning are surprises: one for Ides, the other in the Musical / Comedy Actor race for Crazy Stupid Love. He received a Crix Choice nom the other day for Drive, which was considered the stronger of his two films, and which was shockingly shut out yesterday when the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced. Unfortunately, despite all this recognition, Oscar does not honour a body of work and Gosling, a former nominee in 2006 for Half Nelson, might be kept out due not only to the fierce competition for Best Actor, but also by his body of work this year alone. Remember that last year he was cruelly left off the ballot while co-star Michelle Williams landed in the Best Actress race for their Blue Valentine.

Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard in
Midnight in Paris
The Hollywood Foreign Press loves Woody Allen. They were the first group to recognize his major return to form for 2005’s Match Point, and three years ago they named Vicky Cristina Barcelona the best Musical / Comedy Film of 2008. Given the excellent critical and commercial response to this year’s Midnight in Paris, a nominee in four major categories, we should keep the film in conversation for Oscar. It’s not a guarantee of course, but it’s certainly not out of the question. The film’s DVD / Blu-Ray release next week, timed to coincide with the crucial voting period, will remind those critics who initially loved the film in the summer of how worthy it is.

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer are on the upswing again after blanking out at Critics Choice. They both earned SAG nominations yesterday and today they each received Globe nominations as well. It’s not really a surprise that the guild honoured Close, as she is a veteran actress well-respected and loved by her peers. What she needs is to hit the circuit hard and remind everyone that Albert Nobbs is a passion project. She played the role onstage in the early 80s, when it was an obscure play, then lobbied for the last 30 years to get it filmed. The added bonus is that Close co-wrote the script and is a double nominee, having also been nominated for co-writing the film’s song. Critical response to the film has been soft, but given the goodwill she has earned from her peers and her continuously remarkable work on television in the last few years, including Damages, The Lion in Winter and The Wire, Close should find herself invited to the Kodak in some way, shape or form.

There are two curious nominees in the Best Musical / Comedy Actress: Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet in Carnage. The curious bit is not that their inclusion, for they were part of the stunning ensemble that won at the Boston Society of Film Critics over the weekend, but that the film is a bit divisive and made by a controversial director, and because they were initially campaigned as supporting actress nominees. However, their inclusion here elevates the quality of the nominees, which tends to be … a little spotty in this category depending on the year. Remember that just last year, Angelina Jolie was nominated for the much-vilified The Tourist and the Foreign Press was widely ridiculed for recognizing a completely ridiculous film that did not perform well commercially and is known as one of her lesser works.

Director Angelina Jolie on the set of In the Land of
Blood and Honey
, a Best Foreign Film nominee
Speaking of Jolie, she just announced to the world this week that she is a major talent as a film director. Her In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a Best Foreign Film nomination today, in addition to her receiving the prestigious Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America. That award was previously given to esteemed and beloved films like In America, Hotel Rwanda and Milk, films that discussed social issues and have each been recognized by critics and the Academy as major cinematic accomplishments. The Foreign Press’s affinity for Jolie, a previous three-time Globe winner, is more than justified this year for her stunning directorial debut. Expect her and Brad Pitt, a Best Actor nominee for Moneyball, to sit front-and-centre at the awards banquet.

Glenn Close, right, a double nominee this year
With the Supporting Actor race a bit wide-open, at least in terms of deciding who will be the final five, note that Viggo Mortensen, who had not figured into the conversation this year, received one of the five nominations for David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. He was Oscar-nominated for his previous collaboration with the director, 2007’s Eastern Promises. Keep him in mind when the final five are unveiled.

One final note: Madonna was nominated for Best Original Song for W.E. It’s a bit strange that one of the most successful singer-songwriters of contemporary music has yet to even be nominated for an Oscar, but this might get her that elusive nomination that was denied her, most painfully for 1996’s Evita.

For a complete list of this year's Golden Globe nominations, click here. The awards will be broadcast on Sunday, January 15, 2012.