BEVERLY HILLS – Oh, Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Just when we thought you’d turn the corner with a good run of impressive winners you pull yourself back to crazy land. And I’m not just talking about a majority of this year’s television winners (which isn’t even my beat). Beyond Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and, perhaps, Sylvester Stallone, this year’s trophy recipients were very unexpected and almost sigh-inducing (is it a coincidence this occurred with Ricky Gervais’ return as host?).
Listen, before we dive too deep into the Golden Globes its important to realize they serve one purpose for film category winners: a publicity opportunity for to trot out potential acceptance speeches for other influential awards down the road. Any “momentum” from a Golden Globe nomination is negligible to members of the Academy in regards to the Oscar races. Films with major wins benefit more at the box office thanks to the kudos than anything else. So, with all that said let’s talk about 2016.
Tonight was a big night for “The Revenant.” Alejandro Iñárritu’s epic took home honors for Best Picture – Drama, Best Director (Iñárritu) and Best Actor – Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio). The former were very unexpected as either “Spotlight,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” or their filmmakers (or “The Martian’s” Ridley Scott) were expected to triumph. Kate Winslet surprised in Supporting Actress (she wasn’t acting that she didn’t think she was going to win) and her “Steve Jobs’” screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, wasn’t necessarily thinking he’d be walking on stage either. Other winners such as “Inside Out” (Animated Feature), “Son of Saul” (Foreign Language Film) and Ennio Morricone (Original Score for “The Hateful Eight”) were on target. Sam Smith’s Original Song win for “Writing on the Wall” from “SPECTRE” was comical (it’s probably the worst Bond song this century), but a typical pop star pick for the HFPA. But it’s the fact “Spotlight,” “The Big Short” and “Carol” went home empty handed that had people buzzing at the post-show parties.
Why “The Revenant” spoke so strongly to the HFPA is unclear. As someone who listed the film among my top 10 of the year I can see its appeal, but I also would have voted for “Spotlight” and “Mad Max” before it. Did those two films split the vote for Best Picture – Drama? Did Ridley Scott and George Miller split a block of voters in the Best Director race? How did “The Martian,” hardly a comedy, beat the intentionally funnier “The Big Short? And why did the HFPA ignore the awards heat on that Paramount hit? These are the sorts of questions you ask when you’re looking at an organization of approximately 80 voting members. And, frankly, when they break their own unspoken rule of not wanting to look “wrong” you just have to put your hands up in the air and shrug. Instead, push their choices aside and just look at the speeches.
The biggest winner of the night speech wise on the movie side was probably Sylvester Stallone. Granted, forgetting to thank “Creed” director Ryan Coogler was a big mistake, but overall he gave a funny and humble acceptance speech that likely warmed the heart of a lot of Academy voters (assuming he’s even nominated on Thursday which is still a big if). Leonardo DiCaprio also gave a classy acceptance speech that might help him with SAG voters who are weighing his candidacy or a potent fanbase for “Trumbo’s” Bryan Cranston. Matt Damon also provided impressive remarks for his win in Best Actor – Comedy or Musical, but there is no guarantee he’ll even make Oscar’s Best Actor field. The same can’t necessarily be said for Jennifer Lawrence who missed out on BAFTA and would not be a major contender to win an Oscar if she made the cut. Beyond the fact Lawrence is receiving ludicrous backlash over joking with a reporter in the press room (don’t get me started on that), she could not hide the fact she was hoping her new friend Amy Schumer would win and let her escape another Globe honor. Winslet is still a darkhorse Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner, but she’s a pro at acceptance speeches and might have won some goodwill for her genuine surprise at winning in this instance. László Nemes was also good enough to make Academy voters pay attention to “Son of Saul” if or when it earns a Foreign Language Film nod (fingers crossed). And, of course, Brie Larson was spot on as she took what could be the first of many Best Actress wins over the next few months.
Beyond that, it was really just one magical night for “The Revenant” to shine. Until the 20th Century Fox and New Regency release takes a major PGA, DGA or BAFTA honor it’s going to be hard to push it to frontrunner status past “Spotlight” (the same can also be said for “The Martian”). In the meantime, Iñárritu and his crew had more than just box office to celebrate this weekend and after such an arduous shoot you can’t fault them for enjoying their moment in the sun.
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