GOLDEN GLOBES 2019: The High Water Mark for “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or are they now the Oscar favorites?

globe.jpgThe 76th Golden Globes are in the books, for what they’re worth. And they’ve honored this year’s “Driving Miss Daisy” “Can’t we all just get along?” movie about race, they prefer Queen to Bradley Cooper’s country and western and they’ve not allowed themselves to succumb to Gaga fever.

“Green Book” came away the big winner, in my opinion, with a best picture (comedy or musical) award, acting and screenwriting honors.

closeWill Glenn Close FINALLY get an Oscar after rolling up the Golden Globe for best actress in “The Wife?” Call her the favorite. For now. She beat Lady Gaga, so much respect for that. Not a hater (“DOWN goes GAGA!”), but Gaga isn’t in the same league with anybody else nominated for that award this year. Or most years. Not even as good as Bette Midler in “The Rose,” the best analog to her performance.

Regina King won best supporting actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and Mahershala Ali took home the Globe for best supporting actor for “Green Book.”

aliAnd the Oscar fight could very well boil down to Ali (a best supporting actor winner for “Green Book,” but he could turn up as a lead) vs. Christian Bale, a winner in the “comedy” category for “Vice.” Rami Malek gets into the mix with a win for his Freddie Mercury turn in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which also won the best picture/musical or comedy honors. Those three seem like certain Oscar nominees, though I fervently hope Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”) and Robert Redford (“The Old Man and the Gun”) have sentimental nominations coming their way from the Academy.

I guess slapping “A Star is Born” into the drama category didn’t exactly pay dividends for Bradley Cooper and Warners. Sure, they want their picture taken seriously and Oscar-campaigned as such. But you have to figure a LOT of wind has left those sails after last night.

Lady Gaga’s Oscar may be inevitable. Her Globe certainly seemed to be. And IT DID NOT HAPPEN. But we’ll see.

Olivia Colman of “The Favourite” was a delight, but in no way a lead performance. She won best actress in a comedy for that film, in SUPPORT of Oscar winning leads Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

There’s been a lot of kvetching and hand-wringing among the Internet chattering classes about which films “should” be getting all the attention this year, and which ones the older, less discerning Golden Globes voters went for.

Some years, three of any four people off the street could predict the Oscars as well as “the experts.” Predicting them has become a lesser science. But these self-appointed (Aren’t we all?) experts are taking shots in the dark some years, and this year may be one of those. The shrill complaining has been deafening and all over Twitter.

The more aged the film writer/Awards prognosticator, the happier he was. 

The Academy Awards have traditionally been regarded as “middlebrow,” endorsing “big” films, “important” films and “prestige pictures” as well as — on occasion — the very best films of a given year. Not always. The Globes? “Middlebrow” is their middle name. Oscars are handed out by richer folks with a bigger stake in the prizes, and supposedly higher minded than mere critics’ groups or whatever the Globes’ membership looks like in a given year. The Oscars are about art, or listening to what others have told them “art” is.

No, “Black Panther” isn’t a contender (lowbrow generic comic book blockbuster, emphasis on “generic”). I don’t care what the PGA says. Yes, “Green Book” is “safe” and comfort food for white audiences. “Bohemian” is a lot less ambitious than “A Star is Born,” but more fun, etc. No, panning Lady Gaga’s acting doesn’t make you a hater, dismissive of her social/political/fashion stances (OK, the latter? Sure. This ain’t the MTV Video Music Awards, dear.).

But really, we’re doing most of our arguing about 2.5/3 star movies. The stand-out films of this year are “The Favourite,” “Ben is Back,” “First Man,” “Leave no Trace,” “First Reformed” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.

“BlackKklansman” and “The Mule” and “Mary Poppins Returns” and “The Wife” and “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me” and “Boy Erased” and “Bohemian” and “Vice” and “A Star is Born” and “Roma” are all flawed but worthwhile (more or less) contenders.  We could be talking about “At Eternity’s Gate” or “The Old Man and the Gun” or “Widows” or what have you — a lot of decent but not dazzling movies this year, virtually nothing that we’ll look back on with awe in two years’ time.

Hell, they gave the Oscar for best picture last year to “The Shape of Water,” which became a cultural punchline the moment it happened. So no, the “best picture,” the one that will stand the test of time, isn’t likely to be honored by the Academy. Indie Spirit Awards? Sure.

But if the Oscars follow the Globes, movies we’ll watch again on HBO or streaming, etc. have an actual shot.

Alfonso Cuaron won the Golden Globe for best director. Will that “Roma” win repeat at the Oscars? Quite possibly. As “Best directors direct best pictures,” we’ll have to watch the DGA Awards to see if he’s a lock. “Roma” won best foreign language film at the Globes, which it could very well take at the Academy Awards. A film with no nominatable actors is not likely to win best picture, so expectations for that one should drop (The SAG Award nominations doused that flame weeks ago). Or should.

I think “Roma” is the most over-rated movie of the year. Well, after “Spider-Verse.”

“Roma” may have peaked here, but even though I was underwhelmed by that one, Cuaron may have best director  inevitability. I have said before and will repeat here, the moment the Academy gives a middling Netflix streaming “epic” the Best Picture Oscar, the game is up for them.

I get the sense that “A Star is Born” overplayed its hand — expecting best picture and best director Globes (no sweat), maybe even best actor/actress prizes. The Globes shot that picture’s Oscar chances in the foot.

“Green Book” got one of the Farrelly brothers a piece of the best screenplay prize, and that’s not likely to repeat itself at the Academy Awards.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won best animated film. Will the Academy go that route, when “Isle of Dogs” was easily the best animated film of last year? It’s not coincidence that “Spider-Man” is the last animated release of 2019 and the Globes’ voters — known for “whatever just crossed my field of view” opinionating — picked that.

“First Man” collected best score, while “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” won best song.

The Golden Globes and Oscars have achieved near parity, thanks to shrinking Oscar TV audiences and the Ricky Gervais/Tina and Amy boosted Hollywood Foreign Press Association show. The “Oscar bounce” at the box office is still worth more than the Globes one, though.

The Globes, standing so far apart from the Emmys and infamous for honoring “the new” in terms of TV, and the “usual suspects,” probably enjoy just as much prestige on the TV side as the “official” inside-the-business Emmy Awards, as an honor and as a telecast. They’re still the minor leagues in terms of film acting/directing honors, but with the future of media blurring film/TV/streaming etc., the Globes are better set for the future than the aging, fading hidebound Academy Awards.

For years, much of Oscar’s juggling of announcements, broadening of categories, etc. has been aimed at blunting the under-credentialed “Hollywood foreign press” that covers entertainment from stealing the various Hollywood guilds’ voting/award-giving and TV audience attracting power and prestige.

So take Sunday night’s results with a grain of salt, and a round of applause. The Globes stand alone, and while “Green Book” and “Bohemian” and others earned their share of Awards Season glory, I do wonder if “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Star is Born,” “Isle of Dogs,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” or “Leave No Trace” (an Indie Spirit winner?) have Oscar nominations and even Oscar wins headed their way.

Nicole Kidman’s buzzed about “Destroyer” performance is peaking too late for the Globes. Not for the Oscars. But if we don’t see nominations for her, for “Ben is Back” or “Boy Erased” or “Beale Street” et al, you’ll be able to pass that off as inept marketing/campaigning by the studios that got their hands on the films.

The smart play this Monday AM is for studios to grab more screens for “Green Book,” which has disappeared from theaters, this coming Friday. I have tried to take the girlfriend to that one for a couple of weeks, and no luck. It’s all but disappeared from the first run marketplace.

And “Bohemian Rhapsody” could pass “A Star is Born” at the US box office if there’s any Golden Globes Bounce. Barely $10 million separates them, and the more fun film won last night.

In ANY event, a less “predictable” Oscars would make a watchable Oscars (the Globes were littered with “upsets,” according to some who had already signed over the pink slip to “Star is Born”).

Voting for the Oscar nominations gets underway MONDAY, and the Globes can’t help but influence that winnowing of “the field” into the nominees balloting by the Academy. Publicity and attention should change the playing field.

After a week of voting, the Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 22, so we’ll see how the Main Event plays out now that the early primaries are out of the way.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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