Wednesday, January 8, 2014

All That Glitters: Golden Globes This Weekend

You can't deny that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, all 93 members strong, puts on a good party with its annual Golden Globe Awards. They started out as film awards in 1943 and then -- in what I consider a genius move -- added television to the mix in 1956, so that the stars of the two media, who didn't necessarily hobnob all that much at the time, could celebrate together.

Throwing in the kitschy idea of a Miss (or Mr) Golden Globes, so that somebody attractive with Hollywood ties would grace the stage all night, also helped form the Golden Globes identity. Keeping the drinks flowing and the party atmosphere front and center didn't hurt, either.

This year's Miss Golden Globes is Sosie Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. She is probably hoping her appearance as Miss GG will jumpstart her career. It certainly didn't hurt the likes of Golden children past like Linda Evans, Melanie Griffith, Laura Dern, Freddie Prinze Jr, and Rumer Willis. If you have a Hollywood mom or dad, you get a step up. That's just the way it is.

The charming and entertaining Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return as hosts, another smart move from the HFPA. Fey and Poehler were colleagues at Saturday Night Live, they've both fronted sitcoms on NBC, and they've both been nominated for Golden Globes. Fey won twice, while Poehler is nominated again as Best Actress in a comedy or musical TV series. They're hilarious and smart and they can't be hosts often enough to suit me.

So who will win at the 71st annual Golden Globes? It's hard to predict, given the whole 93 voters thing. To my mind, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association seems to favor British and European actors, which you will notice in their nominations. Also note that they have more categories than most and what they do cannot be seen as a barometer for the Oscars, no matter how much they try to spin it that way. Let's look at the contenders:

12 Years a Slave and Gravity are the favorites right now to win as Best Drama film, with other nominees Captain Phillips, Philomena and Rush relegated to the sidelines. Over on the comedy side, I look to American Hustle to prevail, with Her, Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street back in the pack and the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis as a major longshot.

And even though I think 12 Years a Slave will edge out Gravity in the Best Picture race, I'm predicting Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron will win as Best Director over 12 Years' Steve McQueen.

Pretty much everyone expects Cate Blanchett to take the Best Actress in a Drama prize for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, although Sandra Bullock's performance in Gravity certainly has fans. Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Kate Winslet (Labor Day) are much less likely. This category shows just how much the HFPA loves non-Americans, with an Australian and three British ladies competing against Sandra Bullock.

The Best Actress race is much tighter for actresses in comedy films, with Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Amy Adams (American Hustle) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said) all potential winners. So who among them will take home the statuette? Gold Derby says the odds are with Amy Adams, but I say never bet against Meryl Streep.

Among the actors nominated for drama films, Robert Redford stands alone in All Is Lost and Matthew McConaughey made a huge impression in The Dallas Buyers Club. I still think this Globe is Chiwetel Ejiofor's to lose. His character went through endless cycles of hell in 12 Years a Slave, and Ejiofor made that feel personal.

Comedy/musical actors are more tightly bunched. The Golden Globes love them some Leonardo DiCaprio -- he's been nominated ten times and won for The Aviator -- but audiences have been turned off by the wretched excess in The Wolf of Wall Street. Bruce Dern has the older-star patina and his performance in Nebraska has been getting a lot of notice, including winning Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Is that enough to impress the Globers? Or will they prefer Christian Bale in American Hustle, Oscar Isaac breaking out in Inside Llewyn Davis, or Joaquin Phoenix acting with Scarlett Johansson's voice in Her? I think it will be Dern.

I also think Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) will beat out Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) for supporting actor honors, but I'm hoping Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) can hold off Jennifer Lawrence, the It Girl whose American Hustle performance isn't really all that special.

In the television drama category, Breaking Bad's explosive finale season should push it ahead of House of Cards from Netflix and Showtime's Masters of Sex, with Downton Abbey from PBS and The Good Wife from CBS, the only Big 4 network represented, looking on. The only comedy series I like among the nominees is Parks and Recreation, although newcomer Brooklyn Nine-Nine would also be acceptable. But I'm thinking a perennial contender like The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family will win. Please, Foreign Press people, do not give another award to Girls. I'm begging you!

That goes double for Lena Dunham as Best Actress in a Comedy for Girls, but I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus will pull it out for Veep, anyway. On the other hand, if it were to be Amy Poehler at long last, I would be cheering loudly. The TV drama actress category is a lot more interesting this year without last year's winner, Claire Danes from Homeland, even nominated. It's terrific that Tatiana Maslany got a nod for Orphan Black, but I am rooting for Kerry Washington, who continues to carry Scandal and its fabulously soapy goings-on. Juliana Margulies (The Good Wife), Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) are also worthy, however, making this one category where it's good news whoever gets the gold.

Among drama actors, I want Bryan Cranston to win for Breaking Bad's swan song, and I think he will. Still, Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) have an outside chance, and James Spader (Blacklist) is weird enough to attract some votes. I don't think Liev Schrieber (Ray Donovan) is a serious threat, however.

For me, the comedy actor race is wide open, but the Gold Derby people think the odds are in Michael J. Fox's favor. I wouldn't count out Jim Parsons, who keeps on winning for The Big Bang Theory, but I also wouldn't count on Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Don Cheadle (House of Lies) or Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

Behind the Candelabra and lead actor Michael Douglas, who played Liberace in it, should coast to victory in the mini-series categories, as should Helena Bonham Carter, who packs the double punch of being British and playing a real person (Elizabeth Taylor) in Burton and Taylor.

The Golden Globes stick all the TV supporting actors together, meaning you have people like dramatic powerhouse Janet McTeer (The White Queen) competing against comedy siren Sofia Vergara (Modern Family). But I think Monica Potter deserves the award for her stellar year on Parenthood, so I'm going to pick her.

Among the men, it's hard to overlook Aaron Paul and his amazing run on Breaking Bad, although film actor Jon Voight (Ray Donovan) is just the kind of guy the Foreign Press likes, and Corey Stoll (House of Cards) and Rob Lowe (Behind the Candelabra) gave terrific performances that should not be overlooked. Josh Charles also had a standout year on The Good Wife. Still, I think it will go to Aaron Paul when all is said and done.

We'll see how I do when the Golden Globes air Sunday at 7 Central time on NBC.

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