All Things Entertaining and Cultural
Once upon a time, the Golden Globe Awards, accolades given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, were fun to watch on television because cameramen had a good time focusing on celebrities as they yawned or ate or did anything but pay attention to the ceremony.
Now the GG’s have attained respectability and people watch them to see if they will precursors to the Oscars.
Tonight’s award presentation promises to be entertaining because its hosts will once again be “Saturday Night Live” alumnae Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who individually and as a team, know how to be funny in a way that counts and is a credit to them.
I have seen all of the movies in contention for Golden Globes this year. In this article, I will predict winners and state my personal preference.
One note about my attitude towards Awards programs on television: The home audience are interlopers at an industry ceremony that is broadcast internationally because of the bona fide entertainment stars in attendance. While they should keep the television audience entertained, viewers should be generous enough to tolerate long or muddled speeches and appreciate the recipient’s day in the spotlight. Except possibly for Meryl Streep, it doesn’t shine on many very often.
The Golden Globes have lots of categories. Here are the predictions and preferences.
BEST MOTION PICTURE — DRAMA: The nominees are “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,” “Philomena,” and “Rush”
This group is a mixed bag. Two of movies, “Gravity” and “Rush” were widely lauded, but I found them both lacking in intensity and suspense. “Gravity” was more scenically beautiful than it was dramatic. It strangely didn’t elicit much concern for its lead character, an astronaut abandoned in space played by Sandra Bullock. “Rush” told a story that was interesting without being compelling. Director Ron Howard for once failed to make you care about its lead, a race driver played by Liam Hemsworth. That leaves the remaining three films as the contender for the award. No, I don’t think the Golden Globe voters will pass up one of the better films for the sake of “Gravity.”
“12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Philomena” all have a lot to recommend them. All three touch the mind and the emotions. All three feature several effective performances, particular in the lead roles. All three exemplify the art of telling a story via film.
I am going to predict “12 Years a Slave” as the Golden Globe recipient because it is the most dramatic, if most overdone, of the movies and has the kind of social import that is in vogue today. “Philomena” also raises issues, but they are more subtle and far less volatile that ante-bellum slavery. “Captain Phillips” is a solid tale of two men and the people they lead at odds because of their separate life conditions and priorities. It is the tautest of three.
My preference is “Philomena” for its sweetness, the anger it engenders at the way Judi Dench’s title character is treated by religious authorities, and for a tale of man’s inhumanity to man that is less told and less blatantly exploited than Steve McQueen’s portrait of slavery in “12 Years a Slave.” “12 Years a Slave” received the Golden Globe.
BEST MOTION PICTURE — COMEDY or MUSICAL: The nominees are “American Hustle,” “Her,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The prediction and preference are the same in this category. “American Hustle” cannot be touched by any of the other competitors for overall film quality, unanimous praise, and total entertainment value. The only other movie I’d consider awarding is “Nebraska” for the winsomeness that evolves as it proceeds and its look at a part of Americana movies rarely venture to record, the small towns and their denizens that have no pretensions or desire to be sophisticated or dressed in a lovely coat.
I am not the Hollywood Foreign Press. Among voters, “American Hustle’s” main rival is probably “Her,” a movie in which Spike Jonze posits some interesting and inventive ideas but remains smug when he needs to be witty and doesn’t see his plot twists through in an entertaining or satisfying way. Frankly, I hated “Her” so much I have listed it among the “most despicable” films I’ve seen in a lifetime of movie-going.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is like “Rush.” The elements for an engaging movie are there, but the story never gains steam. You stop caring about Llewyn, and you never have great sympathy for him because he is a man who makes his own bad luck. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suffers from Martin Scorsese not knowing when to yell, “Cut!” or his inability to order an editor to trim scenes that make their point and go on for five extraneous minutes. The energy of the film’s beginning sequences is sapped by the time the tide turns for the title character. It’s unseemly to give a prize to movie you keep praying will finally come to an end.
“American Hustle” is fun to watch, splendidly acted, moves at a bracing clip, and offers the right cockeyed look at corruption. It qualifies at the Best Picture of 2013 and should be accorded the honors it rates.
Question: Where are ‘Blue Jasmine” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” both more deserving contenders than “Her” or “The Wolf of Wall Street?” “American Hustle” received the Golden Globe.
BEST ACTRESS — DRAMA: The nominees are Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine,” Sandra Bullock in “Gravity,” Judi Dench in “Philomena,” Emma Thompson in “Saving Mr. Banks,” and Kate Winslet in “Labor Day.
Before predicting or preferring, I have to admit to a handicap. I did not see Kate Winslet in “Labor Day.” Philadelphia does not take film seriously enough, or film distributors do not take Philadelphia seriously enough, to have all contending movies on its screens by December 31 of a given year.
Marking Winslet, a fine, reliable performer, as an unknown, two of these women tower over the other two in their 2013 performances.
Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actors of the time. Wit and intelligence shine through everything she does. She can play a wide range of characters, and her work is always distinctive. I thrilled at her tart, sharp performance in “Saving Mr. Banks.” It was a constant comic delight, as flinty, no-nonsense women usually are. Thompson brought hauteur and dignified indignation to her role as P.L. Travers. Alas, the role gave her much that was entertaining to do but not much that allowed her to plumb the depths of her character. Mrs. Travers hits basic notes and chords, but she doesn’t run the emotional scale. Sandra Bullock played a character in a precarious position. In addition to being lost in space, she had a child to trigger the audience’s concern. Yet, Bullock never moved me or made me worry about the astronaut she played. I found “Gravity” primarily and most stunningly a technical achievement. Emotionally and dramatically, it is as inert as several of the gases Bullock’s character floats through. Bullock is responsible for that sterility. As much as I’d like to see her get another acting award to reinforce her victories for “The Blind Side,” I can’t see honoring Bullock for “Gravity.”
That leaves Blanchett and Dench. What a grand and difficult dilemma, having to select from this sterling pair of performances. Both women are remarkable for the range with they endow their characters. Dench is so ineluctably human as Philomena Lee, a woman who has led a content life except for not knowing the fate of a son an Irish order of nuns forced her to abandon when Philomena was just beyond being a teenager and the boy age four. She exudes the quiet pain her quest to find her son causes while conveying the happy spirit you see in so many British women. Dench’s work in “Philomena” is lovely and worthy of reward and accolade.
Cate Blanchett, in “Blue Jasmine,” reaches a new plateau in a career that has taken her to great heights before Woody Allen rolled his first canister of footage for “Jasmine.” Blanchett’s Jasmine runs the greatest gamut of attitudes and emotions of any of the contenders. She skillfully reveals a full portrait of her character in a way that simultaneously breaks and freezes your heart. You have regard for Jasmine while disliking her, at times more than a bit. She gets and loses your sympathy, and through it all, Blanchett shows her soldiering on, head high and standards that suit her in tow. Blanchett’s the most realized and most artistic performance of any in 2013, and she is my prediction and preference to receive tonight’s Golden Globe. Cate Blanchett received the Golden Globe.
BEST ACTRESS — COMEDY or MUSICAL: The nominees are Amy Adams for “American Hustle,” Julie Delpy in “Before Midnight,” Greta Gerwig in “Frances Ha,” “Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Enough Said,” and Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County.”
In recent years, Amy Adams has most often been the bride abandoned at the altar. In Oscar competitions, she has the chance to join Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter, and Glenn Close as the women who have been nominated the most without being given the award. Year after year, Adams gives an assortment of performances, each one of which shows how chameleon-like she is in creating vivid, authentic characters. About the only one who sits disappointed at an award ceremony as often as Adams is Meryl Streep, who may have three Oscar wins, but has more frequently sat and applauded while another has received the statuette.
Tonight’s Golden Globe contest will come down to Adams or Streep, and I predict that Adams will finally be asked to march to the podium and accept a tribute to her amazing acting over the last decade. Her character in “American Hustle” was bright and resourceful, and her acting meshed with the ensemble’s to create a lively, funny movie.
Streep, of course, can play anything, and she loves to take cracks at being a major league Gorgon. “August: Osage County” gives her that opportunity, and Streep doesn’t waste it. Her line readings crackle with wit and ooze with venom. Streep’s Violet is the fiercest one on a fierce block in which every tongue stings and every utterance is meant to wound and invariably hits its mark. As usual, Streep is a load of fun and a natural in this overbearing role as one can get.
“Frances Ha” is overrated, but Gerwig makes a great showing and should be grateful to be in award contention. Louis Dreyfus, like Carol Burnett and others before her, cannot always muster the size one needs to grow when moving from the television to the movie screen. For “Veep,” give her all the prizes you can manage. For “Enough Said,” she is overshadowed by what is sadly the valedictory performance of James Gandolfini and the supporting turn of Catherine Keener as Gandolfini’s first wife.
Delpy makes the contest interesting. Her performance is sensuous and intellectually satisfying. Her character in “Before Midnight” is adult and well realized in a way you don’t seen in such detail in movies set in America and featuring American actresses. For me, she is the wild card. My preference, however, is for Amy Adams. I don’t care that she’s overdue to earn an award. I’m impressed that for her work in “American Hustle,” she’s earned this one. Amy Adams received the Golden Globe.
BEST ACTOR — DRAMA: The nominees are Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave,” Idris Elba in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips,” Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club,” and Robert Redford in “All is Lost.”
What a remarkable and laudatory field this is! Call all of them to the stage and present an award to the lot of them. This category presents a most difficult choice. Every one of these men brought such dignity and vibrance to their parts. It’s unfair and borders on wrong to have to choose one.
Ejiofor, as always, cuts to the core of his character and shows the angst, hurt, resignation, and commitment of Solomon Northup, a free man from Boston duped by traders in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery in deep South prior to the American Civil War. Ejiofor’s is a towering turn full of moments that illuminate Northup’s plight. He is as deft at showing the audience all Solomon has to hide as he is at portraying all Solomon must endure while he is a commodity branded as someone else’s chattel.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” has not received the attention one would expect from a major film about a bona fide hero, particularly since the movie opened around the time Nelson Mandela died. In many a movie and television performance, Elba has shown his mettle, and he rises the height and magnitude required to portray Mr. Mandela on the screen.
Hanks is having an outstanding year that rekindles the skein of work he did in the mid-to-late 1990s in scope and quality. He is winning and realistic as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.” He shows more range and more intense authenticity as the cargo ship captain taken hostage by Sudanese pirates in “Captain Phillips.” In this part, you don’t see the seams or mechanics of Hanks’s performance. You see a man trying to outsmart people who are emotional and more desperate than he. More emotional, that is, until Phillips faces what he thinks is certain doom, and Hanks gets to show his feelings, which register as sincere and legitimate.
McConaughey has a breakthrough performance as a rebel, or perhaps more aptly, a maverick with a cause, to lengthen and try to save his own life in the wake of medical and government indifference and even hindrance. McConaughey’s is a large, witty performance. His Ron Woodroof is determined to live as long as he no matter who interferes, and it is great fun to watch McConaughey achieve that.
Robert Redford is the only actor and plays the only character in “All is Lost.” He, like Sandra Bullock in “Gravity,” is stuck without any resource but his native wit and intelligence in an expanse that puts him in a precarious life-or-death situation. Unlike Bullock, Redford makes you care and worry about his character. Deeply. As opposed to being indifferent about how he might survive, you are kept at the edge of your seat by Redford’s castaway. The actor makes the movie, one that might be laughable with a lesser performer at the acting helm.
In a tough decision in which all the performances were weighed, I predict Robert Redford will win the Golden Globe. He is also my preference. Matthew McConaughey received the Golden Globe.
BEST ACTOR — COMEDY or MUSICAL: The nominees are Christian Bale for “American Hustle,” Bruce Dern in “Nebraska,” Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and Joaquin Phoenix in “Her”
Another interesting selection, although I wonder about Isaac being in this category while McConaughey, whose performance is much more comic, is included among the dramatic actors.
DiCaprio has detractors, but I don’t see why he should. His work in consistent and creative. I enjoyed his Jay Gatsby earlier in 2013, and he brings life and gusto to his character in “Wolf of Wall Street” as well. I worry, though, that the character, like Scorsese’s movie, wears out its welcome before the film ends.
Isaac is a wonder at showing the dichotomy of Llewyn Davis, an unlikely folk singer who may not have the temperament, or the talent, to succeed in the music industry, particularly the folk music division of it. Davis has a lot to learn as a person, and Isaac fearlessly plays him with all the warts showing and without an ounce of self-consciousness or sentimentality. Isaac may convey Davis’s self-consciousness but betrays none of his own. Like his movie, Isaac’s turn, good as it is, does not compel anyone to run to the theater the way Bale’s or Dern’s might.
I see I’ve tipped my hand. I believe the Golden Globe will go to Bale or Dern. Phoenix is a serious contender, but I don’t think he brought enough variety or charisma to his role as a man embodies the solipsistic nature of his computer-age era and falls in love with an operating system, represented by the voice of a woman, Samantha, with whom a software provider pairs him. Phoenix does keep “Her” from being disappointing. I, personally, would not have nominated him over James Gandolfini in “Enough Said,” but the Hollywood press might like his work enough to give him its award.
I don’t think that will happen. I think the choice remains between Bale and Dern. Bale is certainly funny and versatile in “American Hustle.” Just watching his character fix his elaborate combover hair-do is a minor riot. Dern, though, tugs at your heartstrings as man who doesn’t always notice or understand what is going on but knows stubbornly what he wants and what he’s ready to do to get it.
I predict the Golden Globe will go to Bale. My preference is Dern. Leonardo DiCaprio received the Golden Globe.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: The nominees are Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine,” Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle,” Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave,” Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County,” and June Squibb in “Nebraska.”
My, my, another fine and universally deserving field of contenders.
Lawrence is a wonder. In last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” she turned an oversized, rather psychopathic character into a lovable, realistic human being. She was the only one in David O. Russell’s cast that was able to do that, and she justifiably earned an Oscar for her effort. In Russell’s “American Hustle,” the entire ensemble makes big characters seem human and accessible, Lawrence nevertheless stands out as the best of a wonderful bunch. Her Long Island wife, one who is less interested in her husband’s business than what it provides her, is a stitch and one you love to see on the screen.
Nyong’o breaks your heart. The young slave woman she plays has such beauty and potential but is dragged down by a nefarious system and a pride that doesn’t allow her to totally give into it. Nyong’o’s is a touching, mesmerizing turn. I predict she will be honored by the Hollywood Press with a Golden Globe for her work in “12 Years a Slave.”
Hawkins is sensational in “Blue Jasmine.” I have seen her deep resources as an actress in films and on stage, but her part as Cate Blanchett’s generally happy but realistic and put-upon sister is a coalescence of Hawkins’s prodigious talent. I don’t think she’ll receive the award, and she is not my preference, but I am thrilled the Hollywood Press recognized her work, and I would be happy to see her collect an award.
Roberts turns her abilities on and off. Sometimes she can charm and let you see her skill as a perforner. Other times, she is just an amiable presence on the screen. “August: Osage County” is one of her good times. Roberts takes command of a role in which she has to battle emotional and verbal forces equal to her characters’s. She does so with aplomb, revealing layers of emotion ranging from anger to concern about the woman she’s become.
June Squibb is a veteran character actor whose time has come to get some attention. Her crusty, candid, fed up wife to Bruce Dern’s character in “Nebraska” is a pleaser and stunner. Talk about authentic! Squibb appears to have come right off the streets of Billings, Montana, where her character lives, and Hawthorne, Nebraska, her and Dern’s characters’ hometown. Line readings are sharp. I’m glad Alexander Payne provided Squibb this opportunity to shine. She certainly made the best of it.
The choice is difficult. Sentimentally, I want Squibb. From another point of view, I’d like to see Hawkins honored. Nyong’o is so moving and so likeable. Lawrence is just a force of nature that can’t help but show her brilliance.
I can eliminate Roberts from contending for my preference. As much as I’d be happy to see Squibb or Hawkins win, my preference after long consideration is Jennifer Lawrence. Nyong’o, you’ll remember, is my prediction. Julia Roberts received the Golden Globe.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: The nominees are Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips,” Daniel Bruhl in “Rush,” Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle,” Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave,” and Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
This is the best contest of them all. Even Bruhl, who is probably least likely to win or be preferred, gives an excellent and faceted portrayal. The others, Abdi and Leto in particular, are astounding.
Abdi, with his long, bony frame, and unnaturally long and bony fingers, is a frightening adversary in “Captain Phillips,” not just for his unusual looks but for his intelligence and courage as a man who has reasons for taking action he knows is, on some level, wrong. Whether seeing him make bold decisions or listening his rationale for those decisions, you can’t help being compelled by Abdi. He would be a fine choice to receive the Golden Globe.
Fassbender is powerful and frightening in another way as the plantation owner, and slave owner, in “12 Years a Slave.” Fassbender ‘s character is not a genteel socialite with polite manners and daughters in taffeta and crinoline. He is a hardscrabble man scraping out a living and, though rich in some ways, as crass and as mean-spirited as someone who resents his life as he lives it. Fassbender’s is a well-etched and telling performance.
Cooper does his best work ever in “American Hustle.” The cop he plays is as sleazy as the crooks he can’t wait to make his reputation by locking them up. As interesting is the way Cooper’s character imagines himself and works to evolve into that portrait. He may a favorite with the Hollywood Press, which likes to honor stars who have reached high popularity but who continue to rise, as Cooper is doing.
Leto is hypnotic as the amoral gay junkie with AIDS who assists Matthew McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof is getting homeopathic remedies to people in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Leto manages to make his character unsympathetic and touching at the same time. He is ephemeral and other-worldly while coming down to Earth at some times when clarity matters. Leto’s is a complicated turn that is equally subtle and blatant. See all of the opposites that combine in this portrayal. Jared Leto is my preference to earn the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
I predict the honor will go to Barkhad Abdi. Jared Leto received the Golden Globe.