By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 21, 2009 at 9:45AM
In this ongoing blog duel, Moviefone's resident Oscarologist Jack Mathews and I discuss the impact of the Golden Globes on the Oscar race. On Golden Globes nominations morning, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Downey, Jr., Julia Roberts and Tobey Maguire were dancing on the ceiling. And Harvey Weinstein thought he had three sure-fire Oscar contenders with Nine, Inglourious Basterds and A Single Man.
But in the sober light of day, as other critics groups and the Screen Actors Guild have weighed in and serious Oscar balloting gets under way, do the Golden Globes really matter? What is their influence in the big show that counts, the Oscar race?
JM—Don't you just hate to see people dancing on the ceiling over Golden Globe nominations? Where's their pride? Anyway, the dance for those stars is over for this year and Harvey Weinstein is lucky that the Academy expanded the Best Picture ballot from 5 to 10. He'll get at least one of those spots for Inglourious Basterds, but A Single Man is a longshot for Best Picture and the reviews for Nine can be summed up as 'Nein!'
Nonetheless, I do believe the Globes matter in the Oscar race, because they have a higher profile in Academy-land than critics, and their trumpeting in trade paper ads get Oscar voters to begin sorting through their year-end sets of DVDs for 'the ones to watch.' I think the Globe show itself is more important because it gives the nominees and winners a direct connection to voters watching on TV.
AT—I agree with you that Nine has been badly hurt by critics and may not land a slot in the Oscar top ten. Supporting actress Penelope Cruz (an Oscar perennial) and a best song nomination may be all she wrote for TWC's enjoyably shallow but pricey $90-million musical, which will struggle to make its money back.
But I'd argue that while the Globes may help to aim a spotlight on certain titles in Oscar voters' DVD piles, the critics hold more sway with Academy voters. This high-minded lot pays more heed to the LA and NY film critics' choices than the Hollywood Foreign Press, who after all, ignored the lackluster reviews Roberts earned for Duplicity.
That said, momentum is the key factor here and the Globes do add heat and inevitability to the frontrunners and eventual winners. As you say, there's nothing more effective than an ab fab nationally televised acceptance speech.
JM—Actually, I think the critics' influence begins with their impact on the Golden Globes. Yes, the foreign press includes stars like Roberts from badly-panned movies, but only because they want to get big stars to the show. They also nominate most of the movies and performances that have been the darlings of critics.
The foreign press want their awards to foreshadow the Oscars and they know that Academy voters will lean toward the critically-acclaimed work. Roberts isn't going to be dancing on their ceiling, not this year. What the Globes have managed to do, and what I think Academy President Tom Sherak envies about them, is to honor both good work and popular work — even it takes double ballots, or a doubled Best Picture field to do it.
AT—Another question: Will the Globes have more influence this year on the expanded Oscar top ten? We already questioned Nine's Oscar potential. While the Globes drama candidates are strong Oscar contenders—Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up in the Air—I don't see The Informant!, (500) Days of Summer, The Hangover, It's Complicated, Sherlock Holmes, or Julie & Julia making it into the new top ten. Oscar voters are more likely to go with weightier fare such as Invictus, An Education, The Messenger, District 9 or The Last Station (omitted by the Globes as best drama), the animated film Up or A Serious Man (ignored by the Globes as a comedy).
JM—The mischief in doubling the Best Picture category is forcing Academy voters—and the rest of us—to think of films as contenders when we normally would not. There are some legitimate acting contenders in The Messenger, The Last Station, and An Education, but in any other year, that would be it. I will not be surprised if on Feb. 2 when the Oscar nominations are announced, there will be one or two nominations to rival the silliness of the Globe nod to Julia Roberts. Sandra Bullock, anyone?
AT—Well, I could see an Oscar nomination for It's Complicated's Alec Baldwin, which the Globes did not do, maybe knocking dual Globes nominee Matt Damon out of the supporting slot. Bullock is a keeper. It's one of those Oscar traditions, the same one that could push Jeff Bridges to a long-deserved Oscar win. She's overdue. Besides, she fulfills the out-of-her-box surprise factor (see: Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Sally Field, et al): brunette comedienne goes blonde in a serious drama that pulls the heartstrings and showcases her talent.
JM— I would love to see Baldwin get a nomination, but Bullock? I don't know why she'd be overdue for an Oscar. The only dramatic performance she has given—and she was good—was in Crash. I see nothing but a star turn in The Blind Side. I know fans love her, but they loved Lucy, too, and she never got an Oscar.