Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brawlers, Bawlers and BASTERDS: The Golden Globe noms are in

Since Jeremy was too much of a pussy to stay up til 6:30 in the morning to see the juicy announcement of the always-curious Golden Globe nominations, I get to take it upon myself to issue a full report. And by "full," I mean "half," since about half of these movies haven't even been released yet. (You know what HAS been released, Hollywood Foreign Press? "You, the Living." Shit yeah it has. And it's foreign, just like you.)

The most deserving honors went to Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," which DID, in fact, get nominated for Best Picture and Best Director despite falling a bit out of the awards-season consciousness in recent weeks. In the process, it settled a gentlemanly wager between myself and Jeremy, which he won. Bravo, Mr. Mathews - your faith in the HFPA served you well. Tarantino's dizzyingly inventive bit of cinematic ecstasy will be going up against expected nominees like James Cameron's "Avatar" (which we'll see Thursday night and review shortly thereafter), the Oscars' newest cuddly favorite, "Up in the Air," Lee Daniels' overwrought but well-acted awards-bait "Precious" (I'm not typing that full fucking title, even if what I'm writing in these parentheses is significantly longer) and Kathryn Bigelow's excellent "The Hurt Locker," which has been cleaning up this awards season. Critics and award-givers just can't get enough of it. It's like a drug or something. (You know what else is like a drug? WAR. WAR IS A DRUG. That's what "The Hurt Locker" told me, anyway. It was very subtle.)

The big wild card coming into December was whether or not Cameron's well-documented risks (financial, technological, etc.) on "Avatar" would pay off, either in box-office receipts or end-of-the-year prestige. We'll see the numbers a few weeks from now, but early acclaim has been rolling in, and the Golden Globes lend added credibility. What will be really interesting to see is whether or not it can break the Academy's unofficial embargo on nominating science-fiction films for Best Picture. You wanna know what the last sci-fi movie to get an Oscar BP nod was?

I'll give you a second to guess.


It was "E.T."

That was 27 years ago. No sci-fi in the top category since then. No "Children of Men." No "Minority Report." No "Brazil." No "Dark City" or "The Matrix." No "Terminator 2." No "Being John Malkovich" or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." No "The Iron Giant" or "WALL-E" or "Akira." No "Gattaca" or "12 Monkeys" or "Solaris" or "Aliens" or, yeah I'll say it, "Primer." Not even something barely sci-fi like "The Truman Show." (And yes, I'm differentiating between sci-fi - which is science-based - and fantasy/horror like "Lord of the Rings," "Field of Dreams," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "The Sixth Sense," "Benjamin Button," "The Green Mile," "Babe," etc.) With ten nomination slots open this year, you'd have to think "Avatar" could finally end that streak.

Or they could just nominate "Precious" ten times.

Personally, I've been awaiting "Avatar" with equal levels intrigue and apprehension - because, as great and consistent as Cameron was in his sci-fi, pre-"Titanic" days, I wasn't sure if this was going to be an honest-to-God comeback for him, or just two-and-a-half hours of wanking off to his pet technologies. I've been burned by George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis one too many times over the last decade to be blindly optimistic. But let's hope for the best, shall we?

Anyway, back to the task at hand. This year's Globes did not disappoint when it came to a pair of charming traditions. The first - and my favorite Globe tradition - is to always nominate at least one movie for Best Picture that no one particularly likes, or at least that no one loves, but which may come with some imaginary prestige. (Or not.) Often, these are very, very bad movies. It's almost like the HFPA dares itself to fuck with those silly Americans by seeing what random movie they can get away with nominating. Case in point: "Bobby," the recent remake of "The Producers," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Man on the Moon," "Across the Universe" (even though I personally liked it), "Legends of the Fall," and, yes, "Patch fucking Adams."

This year, the HFPA actually outdid itself in this regard, nominating both "Nine" (whose existence I find philosophically absurd considering the source material) - directed by Rob Marshall (ugh) - and Nancy Meyers' "It's Complicated" in the BP Comedy/Musical category. The two movies, unseen by Jeremy and I as of yet, have scored a robust 26 percent and 33 percent, respectively, on the Tomatometer. Other nominees for Best Comedy/Musical are "The Hangover" (though, unfortunately, no supporting actor nod for Zach Galifianakis), "(500) Days of Summer" and "Julie & Julia."

The HFPA, of course, overlooked the most hilarious movie of the year, "Death in Love."

(What? That was a serious drama? Rats!)

The second Globe tradition continuing this year is that, due to an amendment in the HFPA's bylaws, it must give Meryl Streep an acting nomination for every movie in which she appears. (Think I'm kidding? She was nominated for "Mamma fucking Mia.") This year, that means she's going head-to-head against herself in Best Actress - Comedy/Musical for "Julie & Julia" and "It's Complicated" - which also, I must add, beat out the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man" (among others) for a Best Screenplay nod. Hey, I'm not making a value judgment for a movie I haven't seen - I promise. I'm just presenting the facts here, folks.

Other nominations of note include the great Jeff Bridges for Best Actor in the upcoming "Crazy Heart," Carey Mulligan for lead actress in "An Education," relative unknown Michael Stuhlbarg for Best Actor (Comedy) in the Coens' stunning "A Serious Man" and Matt Damon in one of his most fascinating performances in "The Informant!" - which also features my favorite score of the year, for which Marvin Hamlisch was given a Globe nod as well.

And, as expected, Christoph Waltz is up for supporting actor - and an almost certain win - for his diabolically brilliant performance in "Inglourious Basterds."

And, as if it even needed to be stated, the Golden Globes once again overlooked one of the four greatest dramas in the history of television, LOST, in the Best TV Drama category. But hey, at least a daringly original and rapidly evolving show like "House" got honored. (Man, that crazy doctor keeps me on my toes. I never know what he's going to do next!)

Only 49 more days til LOST!!

Click here for the full slate of Golden Globe nominations.


Samuel Wright said...

So Avatar was nominated for Best Picture? I wonder if they are confusing "best special effects" with Best Picture

Jeremy Mathews said...

Thanks to Chris for doing what I couldn't and offering this great analysis of the globes. He even did my gloating for me.

For those wondering about the other three of Chris's best TV dramas of all time, they are:

3. Grey's Anatomy
2. House, M.D.
1. Dallas

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