Well, if the Golden Globe nominations are any indication—and they usually are—it's shaping up to be a strange awards season. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced their picks for the best films, made-for-TV movies, television series and mini-series of 2013. Everyone seems to agree there were a few surprises, a few shocks, and more than a few snubs.
Best Motion Picture, Drama
12 Years a Slave
Right off the bat, eyebrows are raised. If these five films were showing at the cineplex, I think I would stay home. Not that they are not good movies, I just wouldn’t see any of them twice. 12 Years a Slave is a brilliantly acted film with mediocre direction and a gruesome true story. Gravity is profound and symbolic; but at the end of the day, it’s Sandy Bullock floating around in space pondering. Captain Phillips is a David-and-Goliath tale with Goliath winning. Rush is a forgettable story about an unremarkable racing rivalry. And Philomena is a painful story of forced adoption wrapped in the cheery guise of adventure comedy. The big snub here was Lee Daniel’s The Butler.
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
The Wolf of Wall Street
Inside Llewyn Davis
OK, now we’re talking. I have actually only seen one of these films to date, Nebraska, and I can assure you it is neither a musical nor a comedy, but who’s counting? I have high, high expectations for American Hustle and Wolf. Inside Llewyn Davis is proving to be the Coen brothers' big comeback; and Her is the story of a heartbroken man who becomes caught up with a female entity created by an advanced operating system. I’m getting a Lars and the Real Girl vibe.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Robert Redford, All is Lost
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
This is a two-man race between the actors bookmarking the list. Ejiofor has been called a lock since the film previewed, and Elba’s moving performance will certainly garner attention in the wake of Mandela’s recent passing. For the rest: McConaughey delivers his standard cocky Texan; Hanks, his thoughtful father-figure. Robert Redford has one line of dialogue as the sole actor in his almost two-hour film, prompting the question, if an actor doesn’t speak in a film nobody saw, can he win an award?
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Once again, this branch of the acting tree seems to eclipse its more highly regarded brother. All five 'comedy' performances are garnering heaping praise. Once again, Christian Bale proves that he is a chameleon behind the camera.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Judi Dench, Philomena
Kate Winslet, Labor Day
It’s difficult to imagine anyone but Blanchett walking away with the award, her modern-day Blanch DuBois is haunting. That, and the three Brits sort of cancel each other out--and Bullock’s performance fades with each passing day.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Francis Ha
This category gets my hackles up. Yes, Meryl Streep is the grand dame of the American cinema, but if you can’t make a better dysfunctional family dra-medy than Terms of Endearment (and you probably can’t), then don’t bother. Enough Said was an awful movie and Julia Louis-Dreyfus played menopausal Elaine. Greta Gerwig is delightful in a film nobody will see; and Julie Delpy is now finally getting noticed as this romantic trilogy comes to an end. As if the HFPA didn’t need another reason for Adams to be the lock here: This is her fifth nomination.
The Golden Globes will air on Sunday, Jan. 12, on NBC.