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Golden Globes: 9 Things We Learned About Oscar Season From This Year’s Offbeat Nominations

While Netflix is dominating the awards field, don't underestimate "1917" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

“Marriage Story”

Netflix

We know the 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press — an old, white, and hopelessly coddled bunch — are idiosyncratic at best. The Golden Globes voters lean mainstream with their nominations, love to welcome their favorite celebs at the Beverly Hilton, and provide extra slots to play with in the Comedy or Musical categories. That’s why they always throw a few curves, like Cate Blanchett for Best Comedy Actress for long-forgotten “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” one of several surprises from this morning’s nominations.

And distributors can seek advantages by pushing films into categories they are more likely to win, slotting dramedy “Marriage Story,” musical “Judy” and comedy “Uncut Gems” into drama while leaving room in the comedy/musical categories for “Jojo Rabbit,” “Rocketman,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Last year, Queen bio-musical “Bohemian Rhapsody” took home Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama and Drama Actor (which repeated at the Oscars), while “Green Book” won three Globes (Motion Picture Comedy, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay) on the way to a Best Picture Oscar win. And Olivia Colman followed her Comedy Globe win for “The Favourite” with the Best Actress Oscar.

But this year’s compacted awards timeline means that on January 5, the Globe winners’ speeches will have less impact on other races than usual (think Meryl Streep’s fiery 2018 diatribe against Donald Trump, which vaulted her into contention for “The Post”), as Oscar ballots are due on January 7, the same day that PGA and DGA announce their nominations.

1. Netflix knows how to play the HFPA.

Sure, it’s an art that goes back to the late great Nadia Bronson and in his day, Harvey Weinstein, who taught the likes of Strategy PR’s Cynthia Swartz and Netflix’s Julie Fontaine and Lisa Taback how to play the game. Netflix landed 17 nominations (Sony had ten) and four awards contenders in the Best Motion Picture race for dramas “Marriage Story,” which led the field with six nominations, followed by five for “The Irishman” — coming off back-to-back victories at the National Board of Review and New York Film Critics as well as 14 Critics’ Choice nods — four for “The Two Popes,” and two for Best Motion Picture Comedy contender “Dolemite Is My Name!” The Globes spotlight gives Jonathan Pryce and Eddie Murphy a much-needed boost as they try to break into the crowded Best Actor fray.

One Netflix Globes miss: animated film “I Lost My Body,” which scored six Annie nominations and a NYFCC win; however, it will likely show up on Oscar nominations morning.

Ford V Ferrari

“Ford v Ferrari”

Fox

2. Never underestimate Christian Bale. 

Yes, the English actor did some press interviews for the opening of “Ford v Ferrari,” but that was it; he avoided the usual glad-handing rounds. It doesn’t matter. The HFPA nominated him again after his win for “Vice” last year. The HFPA — and the SAG and Academy actors — revere this actor. While “Ford v Ferrari” is a popular hit, it missed the AFI Top Ten, but did grab five nods from the Critics Choice Awards, including Best Picture, and beyond actor support could wind up in the PGA and Oscar Best Picture lists, along with a lot of tech nods.

3. Robert De Niro is vulnerable. 

In all likelihood, the respected actor’s actor — with a decade-spanning legacy behind him — will do just fine with SAG and the Academy actor’s branch. But Best Actor is the most competitive and crowded field we’ve seen in years. Antonio Banderas is on the rise with an appealing narrative: he’s one of the few Latin actors to make it in Hollywood, and after a mild heart attack two years ago, delivers the performance of a lifetime in “Pain & Glory,” playing a fictionalized version of his aging, vulnerable mentor/director, the beloved Pedro Almodóvar. On the other hand, De Niro is playing a reactive, passive mafia hitman, a ruthless killer who does what he’s told, a Judas who betrays his best friend. And while many of us have applauded the ILM VFX that allowed De Niro to play through the decades, others find his digital face changes off-putting.

4. The Globes love their pop stars.

Given the chance to recognize Mary Steenburgen’s great song “Glasgow” (sung by Jessie Buckley in “Wild Rose”) of course the HFPA went for the likes of Elton John (“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” “Rocketman”), Beyonce (“Spirit,” “The Lion King”) and…Taylor Swift. “Beautiful Ghosts” is the only nomination for “Cats,” which was screened only once as a work in progress. Also nominated were great belting from singers Idina Menzel (“Into the Unknown” in “Frozen II”) and Cynthia Erivo (“Stand Up,” “Harriet”). Expect the Academy music branch to follow suit.

The Lion King

“The Lion King”

Disney

5. The Globes know animation when they see it.

Yes, “The Lion King” is in fact all animated, thank you! In this case, the HFPA chose to ignore the Disney marketing machine’s attempts to steer audiences into distinguishing between the 2D animated classic and Jon Favreau’s 3D “live-action” remake, and gave credit where it is due.

6. Globes voters weren’t too hot on “Little Women.” 

Given the chance to pit Greta Gerwig against her partner Noah Baumbach in director or screenplay, the Globes did not. In fact, the HFPA did not nominate any women directors at all. The Critics Choice Awards gave “Little Women” (Sony) nine slots including Best Director (with seven nominees). Clearly, Gerwig’s revisionist take on a literary classic set during the American Civil War did not resonate with the foreign press, though the film did land nominations for score and for Saoirse Ronan’s performance. But that doesn’t mean other groups will vote the same way. It’s safe to predict that SAG and Academy actors will vote for Ronan and Florence Pugh. And Gerwig should land WGA and Oscar Adapted Screenplay slots too. We will need to see the various Guild votes to see how strong this movie is throughout the crafts. Composer Alexandre Desplat is respected in his own right.

Cynthia Erivo

Leonardo Adrian Garcia/IndieWire

7. It’s Awkwafina vs. Cynthia Erivo for an Oscar slot.

Watch SAG, which doesn’t break things down into comedy and drama. That’s how the Globes wind up with extra slots for the likes of Blanchett, who gave a terrific performance in Richard Linklater’s “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” which died at the box office in a hail of dismissive reviews. Don’t expect much Oscar traction for “Late Night,” “Booksmart” or “Knives Out,” either, although Critics Choice and Globes attention could yield a WGA or Oscar writing nod for Rian Johnson.

While the HFPA went with Annette Bening (“The Report”) and Kathy Bates (“Richard Jewell”) over the great Chinese star Zhao Shuzhen in “The Farewell” — who will likely turn up at the Oscars, if not SAG — they did place Awkwafina in the comedy category; the Asian-American actress is shaping up as a force to consider in the Best Actress race. But assuming that Ronan, Renee Zellweger, Charlize Theron, and Scarlett Johansson are locks, who gets the fifth slot? Globe drama nominee Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) will be vying for it, along with an actress snubbed by the HFPA: Lupita Nyong’o, star of Jordan Peele’s horror epic “Us,” who has racked up considerable notice from critics groups. Trailing is Alfre Woodard, who gives a towering performance as a death row warden in Neon’s “Clemency,” which doesn’t open until December 27.

Advantage: charismatic Tony-winning singer-actress Erivo, who stars in a hit fall drama, a long-overdue movie about American hero Harriet Tubman, that has already topped $40 million domestic.

8. Where is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”?

Don’t worry about Quentin Tarantino and his movie stars, who are landing all the nominations they need to perform well in the awards stretch, including five Golden Globes, through SAG and the Guilds and the Oscars. (Brad Pitt is the Supporting Actor frontrunner.) The movie scored 12 Critics Choice nominations, and is a mighty contender through all the crafts: it has support in every quarter. Just because Sony opened the movie in July doesn’t mean it couldn’t be the last one standing. DC entry “Joker” is more vulnerable at the Oscars as a top-grossing comic-book movie passing $1 billion worldwide, while original art film “Once Upon a Time” is at a respectable $140 million domestic. When it comes to the Academy, class trumps box office most of the time. (And Margot Robbie, who might have scored a Supporting Actress nod from the HFPA, has been consumed with supporting “Bombshell.”)

This means that Sam Mendes’ World War II single-take feat “1917” (Universal) is also a strong competitor — with eight Critics Choice nominations and three from the Golden Globes — even without obvious actor support.

9. The HFPA liked “Joker” better than “Jojo Rabbit.”

Joker

“Joker”

screenshot

Again, this doesn’t signify much, since the Critics Choice Awards allotted seven nominations to each, but the Globes chose “Joker” director Todd Phillips as director over “Jojo Rabbit” auteur Taika Waititi. Figuring out the Oscar Best Picture race is all about the five director nominees. The DGA, with some 15,000 voters, will go with locks Bong Joon Ho, Sam Mendes, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino, with the fifth slot up for grabs. The DGA will likely pick Noah Baumbach over Phillips, Waititi, Gerwig, “The Two Popes” director Fernando Meirelles, or “Knives Out” writer-director Rian Johnson. And the Oscars? Think highbrow. They will go with Baumbach, who could beat Tarantino in Original Screenplay.

Here’s the full film nominations list for the 2020 Golden Globes.

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