By Sean Kelly
December 14th saw the announcement of the nominations for the Golden Globe awards. Traditionally, the awards have been good at predicting the films that would later go on to win at the Oscars. However, looking at the list this year, I couldn’t help but scratch my head at some of the nominations. There’s nothing wrong with the nominations for “Best Picture – Drama” and I am sure that all five of those nominees will be among the ten nominated for the Oscars.
However, the nominations that had me scratching my head belongs to the always cryptic category of “Best Picture – Comedy/Musical.” This has always been a funny category for me, since it seems that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has often nominated films that barely fit either of those two categories. That is definitely the case for this year.
It’s not all misses – the nominee that seems the best fit in the category is The Kids Are Alright and it’s safe to call this indie comedy the likely winner. Also, I have no real argument against the nomination of the action/comedy Red even if in the long run the film is more action than comedy.
The first nomination I feel doesn’t totally fit is Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s true that Johnny Depp’s performance as the Mad Hatter was a fairly comedic role, and I have no qualms about him getting a nomination for “Best Actor – Comedy/Musical.” However, I would have to argue that the film as a whole is more a fantasy/adventure film than a comedy. That said, the film probably fits in the category better than the next two films.
The two nominations that have me (and pretty much everyone else) scratching their heads the most are the nominations for Burlesque and The Tourist. I have no argument about whether or not the musical Burlesque is genre-appropriate to the category – it is. However, what has me confused is why this film (which has been receiving terrible reviews) is being nominated for best picture. The same question can also be asked about The Tourist, which in addition to the terrible reviews it has received, fits the least within the category (once again the nomination seems based on a somewhat comedic Johnny Depp performance in a non-comedic film – for which he received a second Best Actor nomination).
A hypothesis from The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell I must agree with is that these two nominations have more to do with drawing star-power than whether or not the films are actually worthy of nomination. By nominating Burlesque and The Tourist for “Best Picture – Comedy/Musical” (with a few secondary nominations thrown in for good measure), the HFPA can be sure that Christina Aguilera, Cher, Johnny Depp, and Angelina Jolie all make appearances at the award show.
It’s a move like this that really lessens the credibility of the Golden Globes. In fact it’s getting harder to call the ceremony the Oscar predictor it once was. In its history, the Golden Globes has about a 58% success rate in picking the film that would later go on to win at the Oscars. However, I’ve noticed that the Golden Globe’s record has been skidding of late. In the last five years only one Golden Globe winner has taken the big prize at the Oscars.
It’s beginning to seem more obvious to me that the Golden Globe winners are based more on popularity rather than how good the film really is (take Avatar’s best picture win last year as an example). It is almost as if the films that did go on to win at the Oscars were just lucky coincidences.
What began as a critique of some puzzling nominations has resulted in a contemplation about whether or not the Golden Globes are worth paying attention to any longer. I still plan on watching the ceremony, though I am now more inclined to take the winners with a rather large grain of salt. Because if Burlesque wins…