By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 9, 2011 at 12:40PM
We don't want to be the guys who shatter myths or anything, so fortunately, it shouldn't come as any surprise to you that the Golden Globes are not massively legitimate. They're voted for by a shadowy group known as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which was founded in the early 1940s as an attempt to get access to stars and studios, and have continued firmly along those lines ever since. These days, it's made up of only 90 members, from 55 countries, who must live in the LA area, and publish a whopping four articles ever year. Those are the sole requirements. As such, some of the members are less than well known, even in their own countries.
But thanks, among other things, to a long-running history and a lucrative broadcast contract on NBC, the awards maintain a high profile, at least in part due to a pre-Oscar placement that leads many, mostly erroneously, to see them as precursors to the big prizes. With double the amount of major awards, thanks to splitting the categories into Drama, and Comedy/Musical, they get some things right, but it's the equivalent of a stopped clock being right twice a day, as Best Picture nominations for films like "Across The Universe," "Mamma Mia!," "Mrs Henderson Presents," "Nicholas Nickleby," "The Great Debaters," "Bobby," "Kinsey" and "Sunshine" (not the Danny Boyle one, the Istvan Szabo one) will attest to.
Put bluntly, the HFPA are star-fuckers. The group have a tendency, particularly of late, to nominate favorites for awards just so they'll turn up for the ceremony, which the stars are happy to do, partly because it's nice to be given an award, partly because it's good publicity, partly because if you're chasing an Oscar, it could be seen as "not wanting it enough" to shun the Globes, and partly because the ceremony has a reputation for being more fun than the Oscars; they're like the Academy Awards' drunken frat-boy little brother. The HFPA seem to be easily swayed by gifts and flattery as well. Last year's all-time worst line up in the Comedy/Musical category was put down to Sony flying voters to Las Vegas to an event in support of "The Tourist" and "Burlesque," the two films joined by "Red" and "Alice in Wonderland" in a what-the-fuck category of the highest magnitude.
So, all in all, the Globes are less than crucial in the grand scheme of the season. But that doesn't mean they're not important. Losing out isn't necessarily a disaster, as with "True Grit," shunned last year by the Globes, but picking up ten Oscar nods (although, perhaps not coincidentally, it won none). Winning or being nominated doesn't put you on the fast track to the Kodak either. But it can help a swell of momentum for a particular film, and, to play devil's advocate, it can be a force of good sometimes. Would "Animal Kingdom" star Jacki Weaver, a virtual unknown, have made it all the way to an Oscar nod without the Golden Globes coming in first? Would Michelle Williams for "Blue Valentine?"
Furthermore, the separation of the categories also means that films that would otherwise be ignored by the Academy, never big fans of comedy, can get recognition. Witness 2008, when "In Bruges," "Happy-Go-Lucky" and "Burn After Reading" all got well-deserved Best Comedy/Musical nominations (although more often than not, it doesn't work out that way...). Anyway, we thought it was worth taking a stab at predicting the Globes, if only to see if it's possible to put yourself in the mindset of your average HFPA member. Our predictions, with commentary, below. The chart will return next week, after the announcement of Globes and SAG nods.
"Midnight In Paris"
"My Week With Marilyn"
With a more prestigious field to play with, we're hopefully going to see a less disgraceful selection than last year's nominations this time around, with quite a few potential Best Picture candidates falling into the comedy category, most notably "The Artist," which should walk away with the prize regardless of who it's up against, and the not especially funny "My Week With Marilyn" (curious that that's considered a comedy, whereas "The Descendants" isn't). We imagine Woody Allen's well-liked film will slip in too, while "Bridesmaids" is virtually a lock, and "The Muppets" has a very good bet of getting in too as the only real bonafide musical of the year. That, 'Midnight' or 'Marilyn' could all slip out at the expense of something a bit more mainstream. "50/50" has a decent chance, for instance, while "Beginners," "Crazy Stupid Love," "Young Adult," "We Bought A Zoo" and even "The Guard" could come into play.
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"
A more straightforward field than the comedy category, this is more a case of whittling down deserving films than filling spaces. At least one film will miss out, and we feel like the mostly star-free "Hugo" won't necessarily play to the HFPA in the way that "The Descendants" or "Moneyball" do, while we wonder if the late screening of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" will hurt the film in the same way as "True Grit" did last year. Having said that, it's firmly in the Globes' wheelhouse, in a way that, say, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" isn't, so don't be surprised if we're wrong. Also one to keep an eye is Angelina Jolie's "In The Land of Blood and Honey" -- they wouldn't be above nominating the film just to get Angelina Jolie to turn up.
Cameron Diaz - "Bad Teacher"
Julia Roberts - "Larry Crowne"
Charlize Theron - "Young Adult"
Kristin Wiig - "Bridesmaids"
Michelle Williams - "My Week With Marilyn"
With 'Marilyn' moved to this category seemingly in a chance to secure Michelle Williams the win, she would seem to be the front-runner, although she could face (very deserving) competition from Kristin Wiig. Charlize Theron should get in here, although we don't think "Young Adult" will play well as a whole. In an otherwise thin field, the ladies of "Carnage" could stand a chance, but we suspect a split vote might lead to the kind of starry mainstream performances like Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher" and Julia Roberts in "Larry Crowne" getting in instead. Scarlett Johansson's probably a long shot for "We Bought A Zoo," but not impossible.
Johnny Depp - "The Rum Diary"
Jean Dujardin - "The Artist"
Brendan Gleeson - "The Guard"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - "50/50"
Owen Wilson - "Midnight In Paris"
With a similarly weak selection to choose from, Jean Dujardin's likely to be the only one here to carry over to the Oscars. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's a lock for a nomination, pretty much, while Owen Wilson probably has a good chance for "Midnight in Paris." Sony Pictures Classics screened "The Guard" for the HFPA with the principle aim of securing Brendan Gleeson a nom, and we suspect it'll pay off as it did for Colin Farrell in "In Bruges" a few years back. The fifth slot is more open, but we suspect their all-encompassing love for Johnny Depp (nominated twice last year, for arguably his two worst-ever performances) will see him sneak in for "The Rum Diary" (or possibly "Pirates 4"), over the likes of Matt Damon in "We Bought A Zoo," Ewan McGregor in "Beginners," Steve Carell in "Crazy Stupid Love" and Paul Giamatti in "Win Win," although none should be ruled out.
Glenn Close - "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis - "The Help"
Keira Knightley - "A Dangerous Method"
Rooney Mara - "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep - "The Iron Lady"
Likely to closely mirror the Oscar Best Actress category, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep (who's won seven times at the Globes) are mortal locks, and either could win. Glenn Close will benefit from the thinned-out field, while we're sure Rooney Mara will pick something up as well. Again, the fifth slot is trickier, but we suspect that the chance to get Keira Knightley in the audience will appeal more than Tilda Swinton or Olivia Colman, although Swinton might get in, particularly with momentum on her side at the moment.
George Clooney - "The Descendants"
Leonardo DiCaprio - "J. Edgar"
Michael Fassbender - "Shame"
Ryan Gosling - "The Ides of March"
Brad Pitt - "Moneyball"
Clooney and Pitt are certainties, as they are for the Oscars, while we think Michael Fassbender will probably get in, although there's a chance "Shame" will be too tricky for the HFPA. While DiCaprio's not a certainty for an Oscar nomination these days, he'll make the cut easily here, while of the other contenders, we suspect Ryan Gosling will get in, for either "The Ides of March" or "Drive," over Michael Shannon or Woody Harrelson, neither of whose films are really in the Globes' sweet-spot, or Gary Oldman -- we feel like 'Tinker Tailor' will be another Globes shut-out, although we'd love to be wrong.
Christopher Plummer - "Beginners"
Kenneth Branagh - "My Week With Marilyn"
Albert Brooks - "Drive"
Patton Oswalt - "Young Adult"
Nick Nolte - "Warrior"
While the categories are split in the leading performance categories, they're not in supporting, which means that this should be a fairly close mirror of the Oscars. We think Christopher Plummer, Albert Brooks and Patton Oswalt are all pretty much dead certs for nominations at both, while Kenneth Branagh will likely get in too. For the fifth slot, we're leaning towards Nick Nolte in "Warrior," although we're not quite sure why. Ben Kingsley, Viggo Mortensen, Jonah Hill or Max Von Sydow could all make it in, while a surprise nod for Andy Serkis shouldn't be totally counted out.
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Again likely a close companion to the Oscars, this is Vanessa Redgrave's to lose, while Octavia Spencer and Shailene Woodley will likely join her as nominees. Bérénice Bejo is a pretty good bet, as is Sandra Bullock, while we suspect that Melissa McCarthy will sneak in at the Globes, while she won't at the Oscars. Angelica Huston's also a possibility for "50/50."
David Fincher - "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"
Michel Hazanavicius - "The Artist"
Bennett Miller - "Moneyball"
Alexander Payne - "The Descendants"
Steven Spielberg - "War Horse"
We've not really looked at the director race yet in this column, but it'll generally follow the best picture frontrunners, in this case Spielberg, Payne and Hazanivicius. Even assuming our thesis that "Hugo" won't do well with HFPA holds, Scorsese could still sneak in, but we'd place money behind David Fincher (who won last year) and Bennett Miller, although both might not necessarily get in.
"Midnight In Paris"
Again, there's only one screenplay category, pitting originals against adapted work. "The Descendants" and "Moneyball" seem like the only true locks, while "The Artist" is again likely, but not a home-run, seeing as some may underrate the script in such a visually-driven picture. "Midnight in Paris" is a very good bet, while we suspect that Lee Hall and Richard Curtis could sneak in for "War Horse," although a nod for "Bridesmaids" isn't out of the question.
"The Adventures Of Tintin"
"Puss In Boots"
Only moving to five slots a couple of years back, the Globes have traditionally favored studio fare in this relatively new category; while "The Illusionist" got in last year, it has generally leaned towards stuff like "The Simpsons Movie" and "Cloudy With Chance of Meatballs." This being a weak year for animation, we don't expect that change this time around. However, there's likely to be some differences as "The Adventures of Tintin" should get in, whereas animators may not go for it at the Oscars. "Rango" is a given, and the most likely winner, while "Arthur Christmas" will probably get in. "Cars 2" may stand a better chance than it does with the Academy, but we're leaning towards "Rio" for the final slot.
"A Separation" (Iran)
The Flowers Of War" (China)
"Where Do We Go Now?" (Lebanon)
"In Darkness" (Poland)
"The Skin I Live In" (Spain)
The Globes don't go by the same rules as the Oscars for this category, so it tends to lean towards the mostly widely seen foreign language films (which don't even have to be from foreign countries: "The Kite Runner," "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Apocalypto" are all past nominees. As such, Pedro Almodovar, who's something of a staple with the Globes, should get in with "The Skin I Live In," which wasn't picked by the Spanish contingent of the Academy. Otherwise, we're expecting the front-runners of "A Separation," "Where Do We Go Now?" and "In Darkness" to win nods, along with Christian Bale-starrer "The Flowers of War"
Oh, and there are the two musical categories, but we'd essentially expect the same as when we covered those a few weeks ago. Check back on Thursday to see if we were right.