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10 Things We Learned From The 2014 Golden Globes

10 Things We Learned From The 2014 Golden Globes

If you’re a salesperson of aspirin, raw eggs or hair-of-the-dog booze in Hollywood, today is a good day for you: it’s the morning after the Golden Globes, otherwise known as the single most hungover day in the Hollywood calendar. The night that truly kicks off the two-month-long season of awards ceremonies, all leading up to the Oscars at the start of March, its reputation is as one that not many take seriously, but everyone treats as a bit of a party, with some gloriously decadent shenanigans taking place over the years.

You’ve seen the winners already, but what does it all mean? Well, in the grand schemes of things, not necessarily an enormous amount—the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as we’ve said many times before, is an organization of about 90 members who don’t necessarily overlap with the Academy’s tastes. But it is useful both in terms of establishing or curbing momentum, and in letting the stars into the spotlight—a great speech at the Globes can make someone a frontrunner, a disastrous one can derail a campaign. So, with all that in mind, below you’ll find ten things we learned from the Golden Globes last night, some relating to the Oscars, some not…

1. “American Hustle” still looks like the one to beat 
David O. Russell‘s film “American Hustle,” or as Tina Fey so aptly renamed it, “Explosion At The Wig Factory,” was the big winner of the night with three awards: Best Comedy/Musical, Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for Amy Adams, and Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lawrence. It wasn’t quite a sweep—a Best Screenplay win would have completed that, but Spike Jonze got it as a consolation prize for “Her“—but it certainly continues to add to the narrative that the film is the current frontrunner. Obviously it had an easier ride here being in a separate category from its major competition, but nevertheless, the film’s become a legitimate box office hit (crossing $100 million this weekend, with plenty of gas left in the tank) and has emerged as the compromise candidate, more entertaining than “12 Years a Slave,” more old-school than “Gravity.” That said…

2. Best Picture remains a three-way race: “American Hustle,” “Gravity” or “12 Years a Slave” could still win.
“American Hustle” might be ahead by a nose or two, but the Globes last night emphasized what an absurdly close race it’s going to be, in what’s shaping up to be the tightest contest in years. “American Hustle” might have taken three prizes, but the HFPA spread the love quite widely, with Best Drama going to “12 Years a Slave” and Best Director to “Gravity.” Each have strong supporters, and each will be likely be represented very well with the Academy nominations (more than 7 nominations apiece, we reckon), which means that unless the Guilds line up behind one candidate in particular (‘Hustle’ is the only one nominated by the four major guilds, but a win from the DGA in particular would be a surprise), we’re likely to be kept guessing for the next six weeks or so. 

3. Alfonso Cuarón is certainly the Director front-runner, but it’s not a sure thing just yet.
On first glance, one might assume that Alfonso Cuarón will be going home with an Oscar in a few weeks—he’s won the lion’s share of precursor awards so far, and has been positioned very much as the star. But that perhaps ignores a number of things, not least how stiff the competition is, and how badly the Globes match up in this category—only five times in the last ten years has the winner of the Directing Golden Globe won the Oscar, and only once in the last five years. In fact, last year’s Golden Globe victor, Ben Affleck, wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, which hadn’t happened since 1988. Cuarón’s extremely unlikely to suffer the same fate as Affleck, but Steve McQueen and David O. Russell are hot on his heels—the former potentially being the first black filmmaker to win the prize, the latter a director who’s had two nominations in three years and feels increasingly due for the win. Cuarón is the favorite certainly, but does that also hurt the film’s chances? Many are predicting, as with last year, a rare split between Best Picture and Best Director with the Academy, and there’s a sense that if people get behind Cuarón, it’d be as a consolation prize after voting for something else for Best Picture.

4. Amy Adams is looking good for an Oscar nomination…
Speaking of overdue, Amy Adams currently has four nominations (all in Supporting) without a win. That’s not likely to be corrected this year, but whereas she once seemed like a dark horse for an Oscar nomination this year, a Globes victory makes it increasingly likely that she’ll be picking up her first-ever Best Actress nod on Thursday. It’s rare for the winner of the Best Comedy/Musical Actress Globe award not to be nominated (Sally Hawkins for “Happy Go Lucky” was the only one in the last decade to miss out), and though many had assumed Meryl Streep would be nominated again for “August: Osage County,” the momentum’s really dropped out of that one recently. Adams is in many ways the beating heart of “American Hustle,” and with the film picking up so much steam and the actress delivering a touching and fiery speech (admonishing organizers for playing her off while talking about her daughter), she might even be Cate Blanchett‘s main rival for the win. That’s a relative term, though, because…

5. Cate Blanchett is going to win Best Actress, obviously.
We’re afraid to say that, while there’s plenty of suspense left in the Oscar races, Best Actress is absolutely not one of them: the precursor awards have pretty much lined up behind Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine,” and to be honest, the Australian star has seemed like the most viable winner since the film premiered in the summer. Had her competition—Sandra Bullock, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Streep and Adams—won a precursor or two, or done better with the critics’ groups, we might have seen a closer race (we’d argue that the only person who might have really challenged her is Adèle Exarchapoulos, but the film hasn’t been seen by enough people), but as it is, Blanchett is taking the statue home in March.

6. Matthew McConaughey could be the Best Actor frontrunner, but he might have hurt his chances (same with Jared Leto
We’re a little puzzled that people were surprised by Matthew McConaughey‘s victory as Best Actor in a Drama last night: we’d predicted as much, and we’ve considered him to be at the front of the pack in the category when it comes to an Oscar win (alongside Bruce Dern, who isn’t starry enough to have won the Globes). His win last night is likely to mean that he’ll take frontrunner status with most prognosticators, but it was actually a mixed night for him and “Dallas Buyers Club” co-star Jared Leto, who’s likewise hotly tipped to win the Oscar after taking the Supporting Actor Globe. Both won, which is obviously good news, but they’re already facing some blowback for their speeches. We’re not sure that they’re homophobic in the way that a rather prickly Salon piece accuses them of being, but neither McConaughey or Leto struck the right tone, coming across as self-satisfied and jokey. It was probably an appropriate tone in the room, but at home, both acceptance speeches came across as a bit glib for a film about AIDS, a fact that neither mentioned. It’s not a disaster (expect some corrective damage control at the Critics Choice Awards and elsewhere), but the chance to wow with a speech is one of the great advantages of the Globes and similar awards, as people like Jennifer Lawrence and Jean Dujardin have found, and both McConaughey and Leto blew their moment (at least temporarily) and that may be enough for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern or others to gather up steam again. And for the record, while the Globes are much more pro-Leonardo DiCaprio than the Academy (he has ten Globes nominations, and a win for “The Aviator,” and only three Oscar nods), “The Wolf of Wall Street” could still pick up an Oscar nod off the back of his victory for the Scorsese film last night, though he’ll have to fight off Robert Redford and Christian Bale to do it.

7. Keep an eye on “The Great Beauty” in Foreign Language, “Her” in Screenplay, and “All Is Lost” in score.
Among the below-the-line categories, which the Globes mostly don’t bother with, some of the victors could be telling. The Foreign Language categories have historically differed between the HFPA and the Academy, in part due to different eligibility rules, but the winners in the last three years have matched up exactly, and that’s reason enough to think that “The Great Beauty” might well be the one to watch for the victory with the Academy there (though as ever with the foreign language committee, there’s always a chance it won’t even be nominated). Meanwhile, with the Academy splitting Screenplay into two categories while the Globes only have the one, it means that there’s a fairly high rate of crossover—the Globe-winning script has won either the Adapted or Original Screenplay Oscar in seven of the last ten years. That suggests that, even if Spike Jonze misses out for “Her” in Best Picture and Best Director, he could still win for the script as a consolation prize, though he has stiff competition from “American Hustle” and “Nebraska.” Meanwhile, we weren’t sure if “All Is Lost,” our favorite score of the year, would crack the Academy’s consciousness, but a Globe victory makes an Oscar nod for Alex Ebert that much more likely, and a win very possible—again, the HFPA and Academy matched up seven out of the last ten years, and interestingly, have been the same for the last seven years.

8. You should really be watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
The idiosyncracy of the Golden Globes can sometimes lead to some delightful surprises, but there weren’t many on the movie side of things—we were hoping for something like a win for Greta Gerwig or Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But probably the biggest shock of the evening came in the TV categories, when freshman sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” won both Best Television Comedy and Best Actor in a Television Comedy for Andy Samberg. The series hasn’t been blessed with blockbuster ratings, so it was an especially welcome thing to see, given that in only half a season, the series (from “Parks and Recreation” writers Dan Goor and Mike Schur) has become one of the best comedies on TV. Samberg leads (and many would argue is even the weakest link) a killer ensemble also including Andre Braugher, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe LoTruglio and Chelsea Peretti, and it’s been warm, consistently funny and fresh pretty much from the start. Most winners of the category have gone on to be long runners, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that between this, and Fox‘s show of support by giving it the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, that this is the start of a ratings boom for the series that sees it on the air for years to come.

9. Great TV got its due.
Let’s start with movies on TV. Steven Soderbergh‘s “Behind the Candelabra” might have been released on HBO, but it’s a movie plain and simple and had it been released theatrically, the Michael Douglas and Matt Damon-starring film would have made this year’s Oscar race all the more tight. And with the quality of TV on par with movies these days, this is perhaps the one area where the Globes feel more relevant than the Oscars: its recognition of quality TV. So “Behind the Candelabra” was given its just due winning Best Miniseries Or Motion Picture Made For Television and Best Actor – Miniseries for Michael Douglas (who gave a great gracious speech about his co-lead Matt Damon and Soderbergh). Perhaps no surprise was the HFPA’s love for “Breaking Bad” given its final winning season. While Aaron Paul failed to win Best Supporting Actor (Jon Voight won for “Ray Donovan“), the show won in every other category it was nominated including Best TV Drama and Best Actor TV Drama for Bryan Cranston. One could argue voting any other way would have been a foolish move for the HFPA, but they’ve made silly decisions in the past, so we’re happy it went the right way for the show. Finally, one of our favorite pieces of television of 2013, Jane Campion‘s “Top of the Lake” didn’t nab the main prize, but the the excellent show was justly rewarded with Elisabeth Moss‘ victory for Best Actress – Miniseries. To add to how cool Moss is she gave E! Online manicam the finger

10. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler: still the best awards hosts in the game
Of course, for all the awards and speeches, the thing that everyone was most looking forward too was Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosting for the second time after their killer debut last year. And the duo did not disappoint in the least: their opening monologue saw almost every joke land beautifully (with able crowd assistance from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks and Jennifer Lawrence, among others), and some absolutely killing — the line about “Gravity” being a movie about George Clooney choosing to float off into space rather than spend another minute with a woman his own age got an uproarious reaction (they also found the right approach for a “12 Years a Slave” gag too). And while they were used sparingly for the rest of the show, their bits were always deeply welcome, from Poehler appearing as Fey’s sullen teenage son Randy, to their introduction of a certain A-lister with the words “like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.” And the feminist bent of the material, particularly the observation that Matthew McConaughey’s 45-pound weight loss regime for “Dallas Buyers Club” being what actresses call “being in a movie,” meant that it wasn’t just disposable stuff either. Fey and Poehler will be back next year, but as far as we’re concerned, they should just host everything ever. 

Bonus 11. We secretly kind of love the Golden Globes
We’re fully aware that the Golden Globes, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are something of a questionable organization, and that a Golden Globe means next-to-nothing in the grand schemes of thing. But if, like the ceremony itself, you can take it all with a pinch of salt and a sense of its ridiculousness, you can still have a lot of fun. And we certainly did: even away from Fey and Poehler’s class act, there vibe of the show is infectious, from Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Taylor Swift on the red carpet, to a tipsy and glamorous Emma Thompson chucking her shoes over her shoulder and handing her Martini glass to Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick‘s daughter like she was a waitress. Compared to the stuffy nature of many of these awards ceremonies, the Oscars included, the Golden Globes have a real sense of Hollywood letting their hair down and having a good time for a night. And that’s hardly the worst thing in the world.

Anything else you picked up on? Let us know in the comments section. And check back tomorrow for our full and final Oscar nomination predictions ahead of the announcement on Thursday.

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