Was the Oscar race defined all the way back in July?
This morning’s predictable Golden Globe nominations provided few in the way of surprises as far as the Motion Pictures contenders go, but also give credence to my theory that the cinematic story of the year with to so-called “Barbenheimer” summer boxoffice phenomenon also could become equally the story of the Oscar season.
With a record 9 mentions for Barbie, and 8 for Oppenheimer , these two very different but original movies easily led all comers and for all intents and purposes were nominated in every single category you might expect, with the snub of Barbie’s America Ferrera perhaps the only glaring omission for either one. The rivalry is likely to carry on right on to the Globes ceremony January 7 as both could walk away with Best Picture awards since the Globes splits those prizes between Drama and Comedy/Musical. They are head to head here though for Screenplay (the Globes makes no distinction between originals and adaptations), Director (Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan), and the new money category of “Cinematic Box Office Achievement” (more on that in a moment) so should one of them sweep those a clear frontrunner would emerge. Actually since three of Barbie’s nominations come in the Best Song category, Oppenheimer has the edge here, being named in the most categories of any 2023 contender with 8, while on that scale Barbie is in 6.
Efforts to truly internationalize and legitamize the membership of the formerly named Hollywood Foreign Press Association seem to have paid off as both NEON’s Anatomy of a Fall and A24’s The Zone Of Interest which just faced off in this weekend’s European Awards (Anatomy swept). landed nominations in Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Motion Picture Non-English Language, a feat not previously even allowed under the old Globes rules but now possible. Interestingly about half (or so it felt) of Anatomy’s dialogue is in English.
That fact might have moved France to submit the Globes-snubbed The Taste Of Things for Oscars instead of Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy Of A Fall, but the latter is clearly making up for it so far this season, its biggest showing here at the Globes. These dual nominations for Anatomy and Zone also reinforce the influence of Cannes awards where they finished one-two in May.
Of the other significant Picture nominees both Apple/Paramount’s Killers Of The Flower Moon (another Cannes Premiere) and Searchlight’s Venice Golden Lion winner Poor Things had exceptional showings, both with 7 nominations , and in all key categories indicating strength. Both of these films would seem to pose the biggest threat to “Barbenheimer’s” juggernaut and the two foreign films as Yorgas Lathimos Poor Things will compete in Musical/Comedy against Barbie, and Martin Scorsese’s NYFCC and NBR winner Killers Of The Flower Moon is up against Oppenheimer for the desired Motion Picture Drama crown.
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The little engine that could however just might turn out to be Sundance darling Past Lives, another A24 triumph (which also has Zone Of Interest), which has significant nominations for Motion Picture Drama, Director Celine Song, Screenplay, and star Greta Lee. With the heavy Fipresci-infused new added Globes voter pool (about 200 new members or so), the performance of this small but acclaimed human drama (partially in Korean language) will be one to watch.
Bradley Cooper’s popularity with Globes voters is intact and he could become the first person to actually win two Globes for Director and Actor (Drama) for Maestro which nailed four nominations overall including one for Carey Mulligan and Best Motion Picture Drama (but missing out for its Screenplay) . It contributed to Netflix’s impressive lead showing in Movies with 13 nominations overall thanks in large part to Maestro, May December, Rustin, and Nyad which all had multiple nominations.
As for the diversity results today (an issue that got the Globes and the former HFPA into hot water internally and externally), four Black actors including The Holdover’s Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Rustin’s Colman Domingo, and The Color Purple’s Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks were nominated in the movie categories, but both Rustin and The Color Purple failed to make the cut in either Best Picture category. No Latinos were nominated in movies at all, even though America Ferrera (Barbie, Dumb Money) and Gael Garcia Bernal (Cassandro) had robust campaigns behind them to name two.
As for the newly created Cinematic And Box Office Achievement award, it appears to have been created in order to guarantee some popular movies will get recognition, although with Barbie and Oppenheimer so dominant across the board, plus multiple, including key animation, nominations for Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse and The Super Mario Bros Movie this is one year it doesn’t seem necessary. However with the nomination of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour it might be another opportunity to get Swift into the Beverly Hilton Hotel Ballroom after four previous Best Song nominations – and four losses in 2012, 2013, 2019, and last year. Could Swifties finally see their queen reign supreme with a box office crown?
Perhaps considering some past Globes nomination mornings I have been through, the biggest surprise is that there were no real surprises on a list that arguably, by critical consensus, represents the best of cinema in 2023, and that certainly has not always been the case with this group’s troubled past.
The Golden Globes is now fully operational again with a new TV deal airing on CBS and Paramount + January 7, 2024 (produced by awards show mavens Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirschner who did last year’s Oscars and Tonys), a defunct HFPA replaced by new leaders (including Deadline parent PMC and their Dick Clark Productions) and enhanced membership. With a threatened hotel workers strike averted, and after pandemics and scandals and past embarrassing nominations (Sia’s Music, anyone?) seemingly behind it for now, the Golden Globes looks like it could get its mojo (and ratings) back. If it doesn’t it would be hard to blame this particularly worthy and impressive lineup of nominated films in the mix as it turns 81 this year. Let’s see how it all plays out.