“It’s like a real party,” said Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Meher Tatna on the Golden Globes red carpet. Which is one of several advantages the Globes have over the Academy Awards, as the first in line of all the award shows leading to the Oscars (on February 24, 2019). As the Academy is finding it tough to find celebrities confident (and squeaky-clean) enough to take the burden of hosting, the Globes — and their raft of afterparties around the Beverly Hilton — are fun.
But winning at the Globes does add some forward momentum. This year the love was spread around several movies, with no frontrunner emerging for the Oscar race. Blockbuster “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros., $390 million worldwide), with five nominations, was expected to dominate the night, but delivered only one win, inevitable Best Song (“Shallow”), accepted by a tearful Lady Gaga, dragging her enormous blue dress behind her, as well as songwriter Mark Ronson, who thanked Bradley Cooper for giving the song “emotional resonance” by weaving the lyrics into the film.
Cooper lost Best Director to Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma” and Best Actor to Rami Malek for his shape-shifting transformation into Freddie Mercury in the other musical in the drama category, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which took home Best Drama. (Scandal-tainted director Bryan Singer, who was credited with directing the film but replaced during production, was nowhere in sight.) Malek thanked Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, who were on hand, for “assuring that authenticity and inclusivity exist in the music, and in the world, and in all of us.”
Heading into the Oscar nomination voting period (January 7 to 14), PGA nominee “Bohemian Rhapsody” is looking like a stronger Oscar contender than most movies with a Metascore of 49 have any right to be. (That’s the same score as “Escape Room.”) But Malek and his makeup team will be strong competitors for Oscar nods. “The one thing we needed to do was celebrate Freddie Mercury in this film,” said Malek backstage, responding to a question about the absence of Bryan Singer. “Nothing was going to compromise us and giving him the love and celebration he deserves.”
Queen’s Brian May defended the movie, saying: “We made this one film about Freddie, we believe this is the right one, the public, most of them are crying. That tells me the team did it right.”
Unusually, the comedy category boasted three formidable Oscar contenders. Crowd-pleaser Peter Farrelly’s ’60s road trip “Green Book” (Participant/Universal) whizzed past controversy with three wins, the most of the night, for Best Comedy and Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali, who thanked virtuosic Don Shirley as well as costar Viggo Mortensen for being “an extraordinary scene partner, no days off,” and Best Screenplay. Writers Farrelly, Brian Curry and Nick Vallelonga beat the formidable “The Favourite,” its main Oscar competitor in that category.
Backstage the filmmakers and executive producer Octavia Spencer tried to find positive spin for the narrative that has stuck to the movie, which was hit with criticism from the family of Don Shirley. “This story when I heard it gave me hope,” said Farrelly. “We are still living in divided times, this movie is for everybody. If Don Shirley and Tony Lip Vallelonga can find common ground, we all can. All we have to do is talk and not look at our differences, we have a lot in common.”
Royal court comedy “The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight) should still make a formidable Oscar competitor, as it landed an expected Best Actress in a Comedy win for British actress Olivia Colman, beating out Emily Blunt of “Mary Poppins Returns.” Colman thanked her “bitches,” Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Those three will all land Oscar nods.
Comedy contender “Vice,” which led the Globes with six nominations, wound up with just one win, for Christian Bale, who gained over 40 pounds to play the “charisma-free” vice president Dick Cheney over five decades. (But so did Viggo Mortensen, who took a big swing playing the Bronx bouncer in “Green Book.”) This will give Bale a head of steam heading into the SAG Awards, where both he and Amy Adams are expected to win. Bale thanked writer-director Adam McKay, Plan B and Annapurna’s Megan Ellison as well as “Satan, for giving me inspiration for how to play this role.” Bale’s Cheney could be this year’s shapeshifter with a big makeup assist — last year, Gary Oldman as Churchill was unbeatable.
Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Picture
Getting a needed boost from the Globes was another Plan B/Annapurna release, Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” whose star Regina King beat out “Vice” star, two-time Globe-winner Amy Adams for Supporting Actress. King is beloved by the Globes, who nominated her on the TV side for “American Crime” (2015) and “Seven Seconds” (2018), and King’s heading for a likely Oscar nomination — even without a SAG nod. “Barry Jenkins, I love you with all my heart,” said King. “Thank you for your empathy, thank you for telling stories so rich… that my son said it was the first time he ever saw himself.”
King supported the #TimesUp cause by challenging people in power inside and outside the entertainment industry to support her vow to demand 50-50 male-female parity on her projects going forward.
As expected, Mexican Oscar entry “Roma” won Director and Best Foreign Film; Alfonso Cuarón thanked his actresses Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira and Netflix for taking the film into theaters around the world and bringing “this unlikely film into mainstream awareness.” “Cinema is at its best when it builds bridges between cultures,” he said. “We are beginning to understand just how much we have in common…In reality this film was directed by Libo, my mother and my family, by this complex lab that shaped and created me, so muchas gracias Mexico!”
The critically-hailed Participant movie has a mighty campaign behind it that may be pushing a tad too hard going into Oscar prime time. Disruptor Netflix is an unknown factor in the Oscar race. Backstage, Cuarón insisted that Netflix gave the film a bigger theatrical footprint than any of the usual distribution suspects would have — including 70 mm prints. “It opened more than a month ago and is still playing,” he said, asking that exhibition and distribution find common ground. “Those guys should get together and realize that whatever they are doing they can elevate cinema, create a diverse cinema.”
In truth, the 8,200 voters in the Academy are often easier to gauge than the 90 idiosyncratic Globes voters, who always pull a shocker or two.
Surprise wins include Glenn Close over Lady Gaga for Best Dramatic Actress. “‘The Wife’ was probably in development for 14 years because it was called ‘The Wife,'” said the tearful actress, who seemed as surprised as everyone else. Her impassioned speech, mentioning the mother who sublimated herself to her father her whole life, is the kind that Oscar campaigners like veteran distributor Michael Barker dream of. After seven Globe film nominations, she finally won. She received two Globes for her TV work in the past.
Late-breaking animated feature smash “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” overtook Pixar frontrunner “Incredibles 2” to win Best Animated Feature. “We’re in an alternate universe where we win this,” said writer-producer Phil Lord, who with partner Chris Miller is back on top after being kicked off the ill-fated “Solo: A Star Wars Story” movie.
“Mary Poppins Returns” came up empty-handed, as it lost its best hope for a win, Best Score, to “La La Land” Globe and Oscar-winner Justin Hurwitz, for his complex score for Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” which should also land an Oscar nomination. Other films shut out include “Crazy Rich Asians,” “BlacKkKlansman” and “Black Panther.