Thursday, December 12, 2013

The 2014 Golden Globe Nominations Are In and They Look Better Than You Think!

It is strange to admit, but it looks like this year's Golden Globes will not be nearly as much of an embarrassment as they have been in the past. After a brief glimpse, the year of movies has produced one of the strongest, least embarrassing line-ups with no confusion in the Best Comedy or Musical category. While there are some egregious omissions and some surprises, it looks to be a decent start to awards season. On the down side, my favorite whipping boy won't have too many complaints this year, which may be the biggest tragedy of all. So here are my thoughts on the awards as well as predicting the winners in each of the categories. There will also be links where applicable to posts I have written regarding the nominees.

Note: If you wish to see my thoughts on the TV portion, stay tuned to my Optigrab blog later this evening for a full post on it.

Chris Hemsworth in Rush

PRO: The two films that have been fighting neck-and-neck for the top honors (12 Years a Slave and Gravity) have each received nominations, thus continuing an intense battle between the popular art film and the popular sci-fi film. While the slavery tale edges into the lead in most cases, it will be intriguing to see who comes out on top. Also, while I dislike Rush, it is interesting to see it come back into the conversation here, if just because it could mean that it boosts its chances at getting a Best Picture nomination. Also, the presence of Captain Phillips bodes well for its recognition going forward.

CON: While I have not seen Philomena, I do not understand the praise for the film. Comparatively, it doesn't have anywhere near as much buzz as the other four and thus make it hard to get any recognition in the competition.

SHOULD WIN: Gravity is a technical achievement that will be talked about for decades to come as a milestone in cinematic blockbusters. Unlike the Oscars, it also bodes well that former winners in this category include Avatar, which suggests that the Golden Globes is fine with popular sci-fi films winning. On the other hand...

WILL WIN: 12 Years a Slave is going to be the runaway success story this awards season.

Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Inside Llewyn Davis

PRO: While I have yet to see four of them, I really think that this may be one of the strongest categories from this year. I am very excited to see Nebraska make the cut largely because it re-establishes why Alexander Payne is a favorite director of mine. The rest of the list features films making "Best Of" lists and among them is Inside Llewyn Davis, which has been my most anticipated film of the year. Hopes that all of these deliver. I do also hope that Her is as great as I have read. If this does any justice long term, it could get it into the Oscar conversation.

CON: I haven't seen four of these and even if they all are by favorite directors, there isn't any chance I will feel as strongly about this selection once I have accounted for all of them.

SHOULD WIN: Seeing as the Coen Brothers are my favorite directors and that theirs is the only "musical" nominated, I think that Inside Llewyn Davis stands a chance, unless American Hustle or The Wolf of Wall Street plan to pull an upset.

WILL WIN: Inside Llewyn Davis

Sandra Bullock
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
David O. Russell - American Hustle

PRO: Each director brings a distinct vision to their work and it makes it harder to determine who among them should win. While it feels like Alexander Payne is the odd man out here, his film is no slouch and while it is debatable on Paul Greengrass' shaky camera work and clinical storytelling, I don't know that I am against it being in this field.

CON: While Inside Llewyn Davis has gotten praise, it is suspicious to see them absent from here. Is this a predictor on their chances in the Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) category? I would easily slip out Greengrass for the Coen Brothers any day. Also, with such a strong year, do you go technical (Alfonso Cuaron) or artistic (Steve McQueen) in terms of who will actually win? We all know that Cuaron deserves the trophy, but there are two camps here and one will most likely be disappointed.

SHOULD WIN: Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity. No contest.

WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Idris Elba - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford - All Is Lost

PRO: Perennial favorite Chiwetel Ejiofor continues to lead the pack and is probably going to be the winner regardless. However, the talk around Tom Hanks has elevated his platform a little, even though most of his charm came in a singular scene at the end of the film. It is also a relief to see Matthew McConaughey get into the race, if just because this means his chances of getting into the Best Actor category at the Oscars is raised a little bit.

CON: While it is possible that there was a campaign going beforehand, it does feel like Idris Elba's nomination is solely because of the recent passing of Nelson Mandela. For all I know his performance is fine, but it also seems suspicious to choose him over other names such as Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station).

SHOULD WIN: Chiwetel Ejiofor

WILL WIN: Chiwtel Ejiofor

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks
Kate Winslet - Labor Day

PRO: I guess we're calling Blue Jasmine a drama (which raises debate on why Nebraska is a comedy, but that's for another day) and just as it has been since August, Cate Blanchett is far and away the front runner for the Best Actress category. The only imposing threat could be Sandra Bullock, as her intimate screen time with the audience can be seen as a literal one woman show and is also more flashy.

CON: What has been going on with Labor Day? As a Jason Reitman fan, I feel like the marketing department has really dropped the ball on it. Since my initial post, I haven't heard a single thing about it and the odds of it being in the conversation have diminished by the day. Even Philomena, which I don't care fore, has been more in the conversation. I don't know why Kate Winslet is in this category other than previous prestige that she has received. 

SHOULD WIN: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

Joaquin Phoenix in Her
Christian Bale - American Hustle
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix - Her

PRO: A solid line-up of some heavy hitters, including Bruce Dern, who I feel isn't a performance that can be marketed. It has to be seen within the context of the film in order to understand all of its greatness. Also, it looks to be a tough year, if just because two of my favorite actors (Christian Bale and Joaquin Phoenix) are going head-to-head in the competition.

CON: Another situation of haven't seen all of the contenders. Even if I like all of the actors and the praise has been applicable, I have to make judgment for myself. It also makes it hard for me to properly predict this category.

SHOULD WIN: Bruce Dern - Nebraska

WILL WIN: Christian Bale - American Hustle. I feel like the film is going to be an unprecedented hit and it will have success largely because of that.

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Julie Delpy - Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Enough Said
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County

PRO: In a move that really surprised me, Greta Gerwig and Julie Delpy both snuck into the category. Both delivered terrific performances in two of the best films of 2013. Also, the presence of Amy Adams is welcoming, as I have long wanted her to win an Oscar instead of just being nominated. At very least, this is good recognition to getting there and if American Hustle is as good as people say, we may be looking at a potential winner, though Cate Blanchett will probably deny that.

CON: Was Julia Louis-Dreyfus really that acclaimed that she made that movie great? All of the Enough Said talk was around James Gandolfini, and I felt that was more done as a commemorative lifetime achievement Oscar than anything else. Also, can we just start admitting that Meryl Streep doesn't automatically need to get nominated for everything (see: Hope Springs last year)? She's fine, but I feel like the praise around her is shadowing other noteworthy performers that could raise their profile with a nomination.

SHOULD WIN: Julie Delpy - Before Midnight

WILL WIN: Amy Adams - American Hustle

Berenice Bejo in The Past
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past
The Wind Rises

PRO: I guess that Blue is the Warmest Color will at very least win a major award other than the Palme d'Or this year. Also, I have been meaning to see The Past for some time and I am glad to see it make the list as well. Also,while I feel it is egregious to leave it off of the Best Animated Film category, The Wind Rises is an intriguing selection, if just because it means that the animated film gets to compete with live action. It is a feat that I don't see happening too often. Kudos.

CON: I don't really have any other than that I feel like Blue is the Warmest Color is a tad overrated.

SHOULD WIN: The Wind Rises

WILL WIN: Blue is the Warmest Color

Despicable Me 2
The Croods
Despicable Me 2

PRO: None

CON: I hate this category. I hate this category. I hate this category. I hate this category. I hate this category. Nobody deserves to win. Even if it was a lackluster year for animated films, you forgot two films that are far better than this dreadful line-up: Monster's University and The Wind Rises.


WILL WIN: Who cares? Obviously these voters didn't.

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl - Rush
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

PRO: Such a solid line-up with some new faces that I feel breathe some life into the category. Even if Rush was somewhat lackluster, Daniel Bruhl was probably the most appealing part of the story and deserves a nomination, even if it felt like he was out of the race after the film lost traction. Nice to see Jared Leto also in there, as this could easily be marketed as his comeback film. Also, while I know who will win, I kind of wish that Barkhad Abdi had more leverage in the race. Also, it is interesting that while I speculated that Tom Hanks would get a nomination for Saving Mr. Banks, he didn't. Maybe this is a sign of things to come?

CON: It will have to be seen, but I do feel like Bradley Cooper's sudden status as a consistent nominee has been a little bizarre. I don't think he is that great yet. Yes, he brings life to the performances that suggest he is working towards something, but Silver Linings Playbook was a little overrated when it came to the nominations last year.

SHOULD WIN: Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave

WILL WIN: Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave. Has there been a more compelling, menacing portrayal this year? Besides Barkhad Abdi, I don't think so.

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyongo - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska

PRO: After all of the focus was on Cate Blanchett, it is nice to see Sally Hawkins get some recognition for her equally engaging work in Blue Jasmine. However, the money still remains on 12 Years a Slave pulling close to a sweep, and that includes Lupita Nyongo, who turns in a heartbreaking performance that will stick with you long after the film is over. Also, June Squibb is highly underrated in Nebraska and to see her get some attention is a great sign.

CON: I am not getting the August: Osage County love. That is all I'll say on that.

SHOULD WIN: Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine

WILL WIN: Lupita Nyongo - 12 Years a Slave

Left to right: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena
Spike Jonze - Her
Bob Nelson - Nebraska
Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan - Philomena
John Ridley - 12 Years a Slave
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell - American Hustle

PRO: Nebraska is a really solid rural story and has plenty of heart and soul. Also, with Her being suggestively a tale that speaks volumes about modern society, it seems like the nominees this year went very high concept. Of course, with 12 Years a Slave proving to be a threat, will it interfere? The film is arguably more visceral than narrative, but with the praise around it, there is little to doubt that it could win just based on the peer pressure of other categories.

CON: Philomena is back for some reason.

SHOULD WIN: Spike Jonze - Her

WILL WIN: John Ridley - 12 Years a Slave

Robert Redford in All Is Lost
All Is Lost
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
12 Years a Slave

PRO: The category has some pretty strong selections, including Gravity, The Book Thief, and All Is Lost

CON: There are a lot of other scores that I would have loved to see on here instead. Even in the realm of Hans Zimmer (12 Years a Slave), his work on Rush was far more impressive. Also, while I love Gravity, I don't know that the score works outside the context of the film. Yes, it adds emotional weight to the story, but isolated, I am not so sure. Also, the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom nomination seemed to come out of nowhere.


WILL WIN: Gravity

Left to right: Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake
in Inside Llewyn Davis
"Atlas" from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
"Let It Go" from Frozen
"Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
"Please Mr. Kennedy" from Inside Llewyn Davis
"Sweeter than Fiction" from One Chance

PRO: I was initially concerned that "Please Mr. Kennedy" couldn't be nominated in that it existed before. Somehow, the hoaky song isn't the same one that came out decades ago, but is a mere satire of it. That's exciting news and makes me feel more optimistic on it getting some Oscar chances. Also, "Let It Go" is a solid song and probably the closest thing to a lock that we have in regards to Best Original Song at the Oscars.

CON: I haven't heard the other songs, so I cannot justify opinions against them.

SHOULD WIN: "Please Mr. Kennedy" from Inside Llewyn Davis

WILL WIN: "Let It Go" from Frozen

WRAP-UP: It is tough to fully judge this year's line-up, as a good portion of the front runners remain in limited release or are weeks away from being released. While I have the Best Animated Feature Film category with a passion, there isn't much else that I can find offensive about this year's selection. I don't understand the hype around Philomena or August: Osage County, but maybe I can with some strong persuasion. I actually am excited to see who wins the Best Musical or Comedy categories, as they all seem rather strong. I am excited to see Her getting a LOT of traction and maybe it can join Gravity in exceeding my expectations for how many awards it will receive. There's only hope. Of course, if the end of the year comes and these films aren't great, then maybe my tune will change. But for now, I really am happy about this year's nominations, if just for not forgetting about the great Nebraska.

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