Film News

The Shape of the Awards Race, Post-Golden Globe Nominations

It’s December 6th. The Oscar nominations are over a month away, and the general public still has yet to see major contenders like Vice and Mary Poppins Returns even though critics already have. Plus, if you currently live in one of the fly-over states, good luck trying to see Roma or The Favourite. So, with Christmas break looming and movie-going plans waiting to be made the industry is making its classic end-of-the-year-rush case for which awards contenders we should see. Ya know, if we have any time left over after Aquaman, Bumblebee, The Mortal Engines, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Once Upon a Deadpool, Welcome to Marwen, Second Act, and Homes and Watson.

Hmmm. That’s a lot of competition for our attention. Well, there’s always January. Some of the awards contenders will surely still be around then, right? Roma, at least, will be right there on Netflix.

But, if you are looking at the new releases due up the rest of the month and debating what to see in theaters and what to wait to stream there is a new message to consider after this morning’s Golden Globe nominations (head here for the full list): Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk are legit contenders, Cold War, Mary Queen of Scots, On the Basis of Sex and Natalie Portman’s Vox Lux maybe not so much.

It seems strange to reach such a conclusion based on the Globes. After all, a bunch of rando foreign journalists, some of whom sound seriously shady and only one of whom gets to also vote for the Oscars, continue to wield the outsized power the entertainment industry grants them. As such, they nominated a bunch of movies and TV shows while snubbing many others. Well, screw ‘em and their despicable access journalism.

Yes, but NBC is paying millions for the right to continue airing the Golden Globes to an average of 19 million viewers. The deal doesn’t expire until 2026. Hollywood’s not going to ignore that kind of audience. Also, where else do you get to watch drunk celebrities misspeak their way into instantly beloved memes? OK. That’s pretty much every single award show now because, um, have you met the internet, but at least at the Globes, we get to literally watch the losers drown their sorrows at the bottom of a glass.

So, it’s stupid and we all know it is, but the Golden Globe nominations actually matter. A Golden Globe nomination can be just the profile-boost a film or specific performance needs to pick up steam into the Oscars, but that’s far from a guarantee. It simply ensures your name will stay in awards voters heads, especially since the actual Globes telecast airs the day before the Academy’s one-week window for Oscars voting begins. What voters decide to do with that information is remarkably unpredictable. The HFPA loved All the Money in the World last year, far more so than the Academy.

A Golden Globe nomination is like winning a crucial state’s presidential primary. It means you get to keep on fighting, but there’s no guarantee you’ll win the next primary or earn your party’s nomination. A snub, however, often signals the end of your campaign altogether. A rebound after a snub is certainly possible, but much harder. So…

Crazy Rich Asians being nominated for Best Comedy and Actress (Constance Wu) means a shot at Oscar gold isn’t completely dead, even if it is still mostly on life support. Same goes for Charlize Theron (Tully), Rosamund Pike (A Private War), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Mahershala Ali (Green Book), all of whom began the day on the edge of simply being overlooked or overshadowed by co-stars for nominations but walk away with at least a little life in their Oscar campaigns.

But the “Will someone from a horror film get nominated this year?” conversation is probably dead after the HFPA snubbed both Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place). The latter film netted just a single nomination, for Best Score, despite being named one of the 10 Best Films of the Year by the National Board of Review and American Film Institute. The Blunt-Krasinski household shouldn’t be too disappointed, though. She was at least nominated for her Mary Poppins Returns performance.

Also walking away snubbed: Yalitza Aparicio for Roma, any of the actors in Black Panther, Ryan Coogler for director or writer of Black Panther, anyone from First Man not named Claire Foy, Sam Elliott for A Star is Born, Yorgos Lanthimos as director for The Favourite even though the film earned 5 nominations, Steve Carell for Beautiful Boy.

Actually, it might be easier if we simply do it this way.

Films with 0 nominations: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Ben Is Back, Cold War, Deadpool 2 (remember the Globes gave Deadpool multiple nominations), First Reformed, The Hate U Give, Hereditary, Leave No Trace, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Mary Queen of Scots, On the Basis of Sex, Paddington 2, Private Life, The Front Runner, The Rider, Widows, and You Were Never Really Here.

Films with fewer nominations than expected: A Quiet Place (just 1), Beautiful Boy (just 1), Boy Erased (just 2), Eighth Grade (just 1 for Elsie Fisher), Black Panther (only Best Drama, Song, Score), First Man (just an acting nod for Claire Foy), If Beale Street Could Talk (Best Drama, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, but no lead acting nods nor Best Director), Mary Poppins Returns (Best Comedy, Actress, Actor, Score, but not Best Director or Original Song) and A Star Is Born.

Films with more nominations than expected: Vice (6). Adam McKay’s remember-when-Dick-Cheney-was-our-biggest-political-scandal biopic was lavished with 6 nominations, basically, one in every major category, including Best Drama, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay.

Thus, the winnowing portion of awards season has begun and pundits are now looking for the big takeaways while also hoping to spin this all into a neat little narrative about the two or three films which are clearly on an inevitable death march toward a Best Picture battle royale at the Oscars. Last year, it ended up being Three Billboards vs. Shape of Water. This year, A Star is Born is an obvious front-runner not just for Best Picture but for all major categories (HFPA snubbing Sam Elliot hurts, obviously), as is the appropriately named The Favourite. Still, it feels a tad too early to say for sure. Including the Golden Globes, five major organizations have now handed out their nominations/awards for live-action film and the reaction each time has been one of surprise:

    • Wow, the Gotham Independent Film Awards really gave Best Picture to The Rider, a quality movie, sure, but hardly anyone has actually seen it?
    • Wow, the Independent Spirit people really love First Reformed and passed over some bigger name candidates in favor of recognizing Leave No Trace and You Were Never Really Here.
    • Wow, the National Board of Review defied the internet haters and went with Green Book as Best Movie of the Year.
    • Wow, like Gotham and the Independent Spirit awards the American Film Institute is throwing its full weight behind First Reformed and Eighth Grade, anointing them as among the ten best films of the year.
    • And now, wow, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is apparently in a rush to be a kingmaker for Vice but has no love for First Reformed or Eighth Grade.

Meanwhile, whenever it has been eligible to be nominated, which is not always the case since it’s a major studio release and not an indie, A Star is Born is being showered with nominations. The HFPA clearly thinks Vice is equally worthy of recognition, more so, in fact, since it earned 6 Golden Globe nominations to Star’s 5. That doesn’t necessarily mean A Star is Born and The Favourite suddenly have serious competition. It simply means, as flawed as the whole system is, the HFPA just got to announce to the thousands of Academy members that they should really make a point of watching their Vice screener. What happens from here remains to be seen. Vice, btw, opens on Christmas Day.

Also, yes, the dream of a Best Picture nomination for either Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians or both is still alive, even without the Academy having to create a separate category for them.

The 2019 Golden Globes will air on Jan. 6th.


    1. Awards used to mean a lot for the box office, but the past decade has seen it seriously diminish. The rise of Peak TV started roughly around the same time the Academy expanded the number of potential Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10. So, at the same time more and more people are concluding TV shows are simply better than movies now and there are always so many new shows to watch the Academy dilutes the financial value of a Best Picture nomination by telling cinephiles they now have to watch as many 10 awards contenders to truly be on your Oscar party. I’m not saying the Academy was wrong to make that choice, but from a bottom line standpoint fringe box office performers simply aren’t seeing the same kind of box office punch from awards that they used to. They make up for it, somewhat, in the added prestige of nominations which adds some value to the film as an option for streamers or cable networks down the line, and the company’s which make the movies also get to trade that prestige for future projects with actors willing to work for less in exchange for a shot at an Oscar.

      That all being said, the Oscar bump isn’t dead ( The nominations come out in January, a typically dead time for new movies. So, that’s when a lot of people finally get around to seeing the big awards contenders, some of which are rushed back into theaters. However, while movies like Moonlight have received 20% bumps thanks to Oscars the percentage used to be a lot higher when there were fewer films being nominated, for Best Picture at least.

      As for the Golden Globes, I don’t know that the nominations have much of a bump on ticket sales simply because they come out during a really busy time of the year when everyone’s preparing for the holidays, and then in the weeks after the nominations Hollywood always rolls out a bunch of Christmas season blockbusters which pull focus from smaller awards hopefuls. It’s not until January when the actual Globes telecast airs and then the Oscar nominations come out that you see a real significant box office bump.

      Also, there’s less written about BTS graft between agents and award committees and more about awards specialists hired by studios or employed by a studio’s PR firm because those are the people who really get the real shit done. That’s why Netflix recently hired the specialist who was instrumental in getting La La Land all of its awards and Moonlight its Best Picture award:

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