First, the bad news: Ricky Gervais won’t be back this year to unleash his snark at the awards show often viewed as the Oscar warm-up. This isn’t meant as a slap at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who have been signed as co-hosts instead of Gervais for the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards. But for those of us who enjoy hearing rude remarks as much as gushing gratitude at events of this sort, well, we can only hope for at least a cameo appearance by the mischievous Brit wit.
As for the Golden Globes themselves, if you’re an admirer of Lincoln, Argo or Silver Linings Playbook, you’re doubtless feeling jolly, because those films — along with the forthcoming Django Unchained, Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty — are among the most-mentioned on the list of Golden Globe nominations announced Thursday.
Winners won’t be revealed until Fey and Poehler take the stage at the extravaganza set to air January 13 on NBC. But it’s not too early for six utterly random observations.
A PRESIDENTIAL FRONT RUNNER: For the past few weeks now, some Oscar handicappers have pegged Lincoln as the odds-on fave for Best Picture, reasoning that while other films may have their champions, Steven Spielberg’s sweeping yet intimate historical drama would end up being the consensus choice of Academy voters. Those prognosticators will feel even more confident about their prediction now that Lincoln has copped seven Golden Globe nominations — including Best Drama, Best Director, Best Actor in a Drama (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field) — more than any other film eligible for accolades this year.
GONE FISHING: On the other hand, no one has been predicting much Oscar love for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a pleasant romantic comedy that, to be brutally honest, came and went fairly quickly last spring. But it must have had a lasting impact of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. They honored the movie with no fewer than three nominations, for Best Comedy or Musical and for lead players Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.
As Jon Weisman of Variety has duly noted: That’s three times as many Golden Globe nods as Cloud Atlas, Flight, Anna Karenina or Hitchcock can crow about it.
LEO RISING: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association sure love them some star power. Indeed, the organization’s most virulent critics have long dismissed HFPA members as a shameless bunch of star ... well, as perhaps too obsequious when it comes to dealing with celebrities. But, really, it’s hard to complain too much about any group that celebrates the sensationally over-the-top performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as a flamboyant plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino’s mind-blowing Django Unchained.
It’s worth noting, of course, that in addition to giving DiCaprio a Best Supporting Actor nomination, HFPA voters also nominated his perfectly cast co-star, Christoph Waltz, in the same category. Both actors richly deserve their commendations. Although it’s arguable that Waltz’s shrewdly calculated portrayal of a fastidiously polite yet remorselessly proficient bounty hunter is a subtler piece of work, my money is on DiCaprio.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s account of the search for Osama Bin Laden, has been accused — so far, mostly by people who have not actually seen the film — of condoning the use of torture during the “enhanced interrogation” of terrorist suspects by U.S. intelligence agents. It may or may not say something about the validity of those claims that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has given so many nominations to the film.
Likewise, it may or may not say something about those claims if the movie actually takes home a few Globes.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Getting a Golden Globe nomination can raise the profile (and the hopes) of Oscar hopefuls heretofore considered long shots. So Thursday morning brought very good news to dark horses Richard Gere (Arbitrage), Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea), Jack Black (Bernie) and John Hawkes (The Sessions). On the other hand, the news wasn’t nearly so good for the conspicuously un-nominated Matthew McConaughey, who had been considered a Supporting Actor contender for either Magic Mike or Bernie (or, for that matter, The Paperboy).
Another Texas boy, director Wes Anderson, was similarly slighted, even though his Moonrise Kingdom was nominated in the Best Comedy or Musical category.
EVERYBODY IS A STAR: Unlike the Motion Picture Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association does not offer awards in technical categories. There are no awards for costumes, makeup, editing, production design, special effects and sound effects — categories in which Les Miserables likely will loom large on Oscar night.
Which means, of course, there’ll be more than enough time during the Golden Globes telecast for all those awards that go to nominees who toil in TV. (Hey! Let’s give it up for Alec Baldwin!)
But it also means that, for the most part, people who pick up awards will be people you’ve actually heard of. Unfortunately, this year, Gervais won’t be around to put them in their place.