The Golden Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, 90 veteran film writers and broadcasters who cover Hollywood for their overseas outlets. They live a cushy life; their offices are piled high with screeners, coffee table tie-in books, soundtracks and swag. They are feted and jetted to junkets. The studios and indies and awards handlers throw them parties, wine and dine them, give them press conferences and round table and one-on-one interviews. Many members of the HFPA have been doing this a long time; many of them believe that they are friends with the stars who charm them, year in, year out. (Full list of film nominations is here.)
OK, some are hard-working journalists who occasionally ask tough questions. They see the films and vote for the movies and stars they like best. They throw a gala awards night –no question, the best in town, as glittering sylphs skitter on high heels through the halls of the Beverly Hilton Hotel from party to party–and want to make sure that their guest list is dazzling. Advantage: Leonardo DiCaprio over "Django Unchained" costar Christoph Waltz in the best supporting actor race, even if Waltz gets the German vote. And SAG "Silver Linings" nominee Robert De Niro, who dissed the HFPA last time he accepted an award, has not been invited back. On the other hand, Globe fave Nicole Kidman scored two 2013 nominations, for both "The Paperboy" and HBO's "Hemingway and Gellhorn." While she has three Oscar nominations and one win thus far, the HFPA has nominated her ten times.
Harvey Weinstein plays the Globes like a violin. TWC's "Django Unchained," "Quartet," and "The Master" all scored better with the HFPA than with SAG–the Weinsteins landed 15 Globe nominations over six films. Even as a comedy contender here, "Silver Linings Playbook" remains the Weinstein's strongest Oscar candidate–but David O. Russell did not land a best director Globe nod. "Django Unchained"'s five Globe nominations gave a much-needed boost for the film, which was neglected by critics groups and shut out by SAG (which may be partly a deadline issue–the movie hit the awards circuit late and screeners weren't ready).
With both comedy/musical and drama categories–yielding ten picture and actor/actress nominees–the Globes cover more ground than the Oscars. Truth is, the SAG vote is more reflective of where the all-important actors are in this race than HFPA. Is SAG and Globe nominee Nicole Kidman really a player for her gutsy no-holds-barred performance in "The Paperboy"? The Academy actors could go there, but the movie, with a Metacritic score of 45, isn't a strong contender.
The Globes confer more winning momentum on their nominees heading–finally–into the Oscar corridor. Those who are omitted don't get the extra push. The Globes do not reflect any more than the critics groups what Academy members are thinking. Many Oscar voters haven't made a dent yet in their screener piles. But they are gaining a sense of what they need to see first and must not miss. True, the Academy voters in this phase are also being courted with lunches and dinners and access to talent via Q & As and parties. But once the nominations are announced on January 10 that stops.
So what do the Globes teach us? On the must-see list and sure to gain multiple nominations are frontrunners "Lincoln," which has dominated every awards sector to date and led the Globes pack with seven nominations, "Argo," with five nominations, "Life of Pi," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Les Miserables," and "Silver Linings Playbook." Coming up on the outside are "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Moonrise Kingdom," "The Master" and "Django Unchained." ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," shut out by SAG and the Globes, is looking like a very long shot for the Oscars.)
The Globes best director list of only five includes Quentin Tarantino and not "Silver Linings"' David O. Russell or "Les Mis"'s Tom Hooper (the Globes are a popularity contest; both of these men are prickly at best). The Academy list is more likely to contain one of the two, and not Tarantino. He and Russell may have to settle for writing noms. It is statistically unlikely that without a Globe director nomination, "Les Miserables" gets to an Oscar picture win. "Crash" and "Driving Miss Daisy" are the two exceptions that prove the rule.
On the dramatic side, Jessica Chastain is a lock for an Oscar slot, while SAG nominees Marion Cotillard (Globe foreign nominee "Rust and Bone"), Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock") and Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") are far from sure things. And New York Film Critics Circle winner Rachel Weisz is still in the hunt even without a SAG nom. Globe comedy nominee Jennifer Lawrence will grab a slot, and Emmanuelle Riva, the star of Globe foreign film nominee "Amour," may still be in play. Notably absent is "Anna Karenina" star Keira Knightley, whose best hope, having been snubbed by SAG, was a Globes nod.
Daniel Day-Lewis and John Hawkes are also Oscar locks, while Denzel Washington is a likely nominee and "The Master" star Joaquin Phoenix, who was left out by SAG, is vulnerable, along with non-SAG nominee Richard Gere ("Arbitrage"). Comedy/musical nominees Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings") and Hugh Jackman ("Les Mis") will likely take two Oscar slots.
On the comedy or musical side, "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" star Emily Blunt is unlikely to turn up on the Oscar list, while Oscar perennial Judi Dench makes her first critics group appearance for "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." I wouldn't be surprised if Dench and her co-star Maggie Smith don't wind up supporting actress Oscar nominees for "Skyfall" and "Exotic," respectively. Smith is named her for role in the well-liked "Quartet," which is unlikely to turn up on the Oscar list, along with last year's Oscar-winner Meryl Streep for "Hope Springs."
Among the men, Jack Black ("Bernie"), Ewan McGregor ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen") and Bill Murray ("Hyde Park on Hudson") are unlikely to compete in the Oscar race. McGregor might have had an outside shot at supporting for "The Impossible," but it's a crowded category and no one has named him so far.
The supporting categories only list five nominees. Of the actresses, Sally Field ("Lincoln"), Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables') and Helen Hunt ("The Sessions") will advance to the Oscars, while SAG-snubbed Amy Adams ("The Master") and Kidman "Paperboy" get a strong boost into contention. SAG went with Maggie Smith for "Exotic."
Of the actors, the two "Django" nominees, DiCaprio and Waltz, replace SAG's De Niro and Javier Bardem ("Skyfall"), who could both be in the running for an Oscar slot. "Argo"'s only actor Oscar contender remains Alan Arkin, and Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master") and Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln") are also robust Oscar competitors.
The Globes only nominate five writing nominees while the Oscars, with both adapted and original categories, have ten. So it's safe to assume that all five of the Globe writing nominees, Tarantino, Russell, Mark Boal ("Zero Dark Thirty'), Tony Kushner ("Lincoln") and Chris Terrio ("Argo") will land Oscar slots.
In the foreign race, the HFPA selected four Oscar frontrunners, Magnolia's A Royal Affair" plus two from the Weinsteins, "The Inouchables" and "Kon-Tiki," and Sony Pictures Classics' Austrian submission "Amour"; they are also handling the last nominee starring Cotillard, "Rust and Bone."
On the animated feature side, it is unlikely that "Hotel Transylvania" will join "Brave," "Frankenweenie," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Wreck-It-Ralph" in the final Oscar five.
And prolific composer Alexandre Desplat has for the first time in Globes history scored five of the nominated films, as well as landing his own nomination for "Argo." The others are “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Zero Dark Thirty,“ “Rise of the Guardians," and "Rust and Bone."