Generally considered the most significant bellwether of nominations for the Academy Awards, last week’s Golden Globe nominations had an intriguing mix of selections – some bold, some predictable and others serving as head scratchers.
The annual awards show, to be held Jan. 16 on NBC, is an offering by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that has only seen two of the last 13 Academy Award-winning pictures not also pick up a Golden Globe. Last year happened to serve as one of those two times, as “Million Dollar Baby” lost out to “The Aviator” at the Globes, only to turn the tables at the Oscars.
To me, it's rather amazing that this group of international journalists can seemingly wield so much influence, as it only numbers 90 members in size. The cornucopia of awards shows that pop out of the woodwork at this time of year can be staggering, but none bring the worlds of movies and television together like the Globes. Stars tend to show up in droves to the awards show, no doubt tempted by the free dinner and booze offered at the soirée. They even let the cast and crews of the various shows and movies sit together at the same table, where they can make fun of people at other tables. (Take that, Academy Awards!)
But does some of their nomination process have to seem so apparently random? This awards show makes it a point to have separate categories of drama and musical/comedy, in both movies and television, as if the genres have no connections. It means every year that two winners in each category emerge for best picture and best TV show. Granted, TV awards shows do tend to split up genres, but how many TV shows qualify as a musical?
While the Globes split up lead acting nominations in these respective genres, the supporting actor and actress nominations seem to fall in a catchall category. For example, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti and Matt Dillon have all been nominated this year for strong work as a CIA agent, boxing trainer and policeman, respectively. In that same category is Will Ferrell, playing a Nazi-loving playwright in the wacky musical-comedy, “The Producers.” Now, I’m not saying Ferrell’s work isn’t nomination-worthy. However, if he was nominated while playing the lead in that movie, such as Nathan Lane was, he would be grouped only with other comedic performances. A little consistency would be nice, Golden Globes.
TV supporting players have it even worse, as their categories throw together series, mini-series and made for TV movies. In 2003, for example, nine (yes, nine) nominees crammed into the supporting actor category, with Donald Sutherland beating out no fewer than six TV series regulars for his work in a TV movie. With that many included in the category, who didn’t get nominated that year?
The nominations in the television categories are always interesting to me, as you can have shows and actors going against one another based on different seasons of work. Case in point, the best actor in a comedy/musical category this year includes Zach Braff from “Scrubs,” along with fellow nominees Larry David, Charlie Sheen, Jason Lee and Steve Carrell. The new season of “Scrubs” doesn’t even start until next month, while all the others have had their seasons going on for months. The same situation exists with Kiefer Sutherland in the best actor - drama category.
As an aside, where have all the comedic TV actresses gone? The entire best television actress in a comedy/musical category is filled with the four main stars of “Desperate Housewives,” with Mary-Louise Parker of the Showtime series “Weeds” thrown in for good measure. How can one show dominate a category so much?
While the Globes have some definite problems with the selection process, the nominees this year have definitely skirted towards independent films, as the five best picture hopefuls in the drama category will probably make less money put together as “King Kong” (which only snagged two nominations overall) did in its opening weekend.
So some kudos should go towards the HFPA for not letting box-office and popularity dictate what gets nominated. Still, I find it hard to believe that the Oscar nominations will follow so confidently in their footsteps.