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Golden Globes Surprise: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘A Star Is Born’ Won’t Compete as Musicals

Oscar campaigners like to place movies in the best possible category for the win; sometimes it's a sign of strength, others, weakness.

"Bohemian Rhapsody"

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

20th Century Fox

In what universe is “The Martian” a musical or comedy, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star Is Born” are not? The Golden Globes, of course.

Fox submitted Ridley Scott’s space epic to the Globes in 2015 as Best Musical/Comedy, and it won. This year, two of the year’s most-vaunted musicals won’t compete in that category at all. “A Star Is Born” qualifies as a musical, as its many original songs are designed to advance the emotions of the characters in the story, but Warner Bros. is going for Drama.

So is Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which runs through a concert repertory of Queen songs lip-synched by Rami Malek, effectively channeling Freddy Mercury. This pits Emmy-winner Malek (“Mr. Robot”) in a movie directed by scandal-tainted Bryan Singer against much stronger Best Actor contender Bradley Cooper — a three-time Oscar nominee who directs himself in a strong dramatic performance as well as credibly singing live opposite new movie star Lady Gaga.

(The deadline for submission in October 31, and it’s up to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to decide which category it deems appropriate.)

Conventional wisdom dictates that with its extra set of nomination slots, the Globes are an easy way for a musical or comedy to gain Oscar traction. However, it’s a strategy that can backfire: In winning the Globe, “The Martian” lost much-needed gravitas. While star Matt Damon did land one of the movie’s seven Oscar nominations — including Best Picture but significantly, not Best Director — it did not score any wins.

Last year, A24 placed Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” in the Globes Comedy category, banking that the dramedy would win both Best Comedy and Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan, and the film went on to five Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, and Supporting Actress. Similarly, “I, Tonya” did well as a Globes Comedy nominee, winning Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janney on her road to the Oscar.

“A Star Is Born”

Warner Bros.

Also in Best Actor Drama could be Ryan Gosling as a contained but emotional Neil Armstrong (“First Man”), Willem Dafoe as spiritual artist Van Gogh (“At Eternity’s Gate”), Ethan Hawke as a tortured priest (“First Reformed”), retiring octogenarian Clint Eastwood as a drugrunner (“The Mule”), and popular song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman, who was nominated for the Musical Golden Globe last year for “The Greatest Showman,” but this time will compete in Drama as Senator Gary Hart in “The Front Runner.”

Annapurna and Universal are still mulling where they want their Globe contenders with Adam McKay’s “Vice,” starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Amy Adams as his wife, and Peter Farrelly’s ’60s-set true story “Green Book,” starring Viggo Mortensen as the bouncer-driver of jazz musician Don Shirley, portrayed by Mahershala Ali. (Both Adams and Ali will submit in Supporting categories.) Focus Features is submitting Spike Lee’s often-hilarious but very serious “BlackKklansman” as a drama.

Clearly, while Warners knows that Lady Gaga would have easily walked away with Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, they still like her chances against comedienne-turned-dramatic actress Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), veteran Glenn Close (“The Wife”), Mexican non-pro Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), and awards perennials Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”), Saoirse Ronan (“Mary Queen of Scots”), and Viola Davis (“Widows”).

Mary Poppins Returns trailer

“Mary Poppins Returns”

So which movies will compete in Musical and Comedy? Disney live-action musical “Mary Poppins” will lead the field (starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Meryl Streep) along with Yorgos Lanthimos’ courtroom romp “The Favourite,” starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, plus “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” David Lowery’s picaresque Robert Redford-starrer “The Old Man & the Gun,” Jon M. Chu’s romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” Gary Ross’s femme heist sequel “Ocean’s Eight,” Charlize Theron vehicle “Tully,” and “Paddington 2” — for which Hugh Grant deserves a Supporting Actor nomination for his closing dance number, for sure.

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