Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Golden Globe Nominations 2011

I'm back! The semester's come to a close, and now I've got three weeks of free time to hopefully catch up on this blog and get back into the swing of things (I'll be posting a collection of mini-reviews of things I've seen in the interim soon). And just in time: the awards season is now officially in full swing, with most of the various critics groups already announcing their winners. But I want to backtrack about two weeks to the Golden Globes, those annual awards that often seem more interested in which celebrities they can get to show up than actually honoring worthy performances/films. This year's crop is actually much better than last year's fustercluck of nominees, though it's also sadly low on surprises. But all-in-all not a bad bunch this time around.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
The Ides Of March
Moneyball
War Horse


It has really blown my mind how much love Hugo has gotten from the various critics' circles: I haven't seen it yet, but I wouldn't have imagined a month ago that a Martin Scorsese family film based on a graphic children's novel by the cousin of the late, great David O. Selznick would be considered one of the best films of the year. Its also interesting to see The Ides of March here, since most critics were rather cool on it (I, for one, thought it was spectacular, but can understand why it didn't necessarily set the film world on fire). That film actually ended up with four nominations overall, so the HFPA obviously enjoyed it. The Help's nomination is a major grab, though, assuring that it will remain in the conversation throughout the winter. Of the snubs, it's notable that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Tree of Life, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all failed to break into this field. I'm actually starting to get very concerned about the first of those: could Stephen Daldry's winning streak finally be coming to an end, or is this the kind of film that will explode once it gets some eyeballs?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk about Kevin

Swinton

Close, Streep, and Davis were all top contenders coming into December, so it's really no big surprise that they all managed to score nominations here. Well, maybe Close, given that so few people have seen her film. Actually, before the nominations were announced, Davis was the only nominee who had her film released in theaters, and even as of this writing (12/20) only Mara will join here in that regard, with last-minute releases for the other films. This is actually Mara's first recognition for taking on the role of Lisbeth Salandar, and its nice to see her included here, as well as the quickly-rising Swinton, who's of course never not been incredible but somehow routinely gets ignored. However, the lack of nomination for Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) means she'll have to fight hard to get a spot come Oscar night.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

This may be the most handsome category of all time. Fassbender's nomination is a terrific gain for him and his film, which will need all the help it can get to overcome its NC-17 rating. Gosling is something of a (worthy) surprise, likely riding the coattails of HFPA's love for the film. Unfortunately, that also means we get a sub-par DiCaprio performance as well, the sort of thing that was designed to get awards attention and lo and behold, here it is. This is unfortunate news for Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), Woody Harrelson (Rampart), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and SAG nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life), all of whom could have used a nod here to boost their profiles.

Best Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
50/50
The Artist
Bridesmaids
Midnight in Paris
My Week with Marilyn


Compared to last year's debacle, this is a much more interesting category, even though it lacks any true "musicals" this year (which is always a shame - Hollywood, try out some more original musicals!). There aren't any real surprises here, even with the inclusion of ostensibly-just-a-light-drama My Week with Marilyn. Notable exclusions, though, are Young Adult, The Muppets, Carnage (a dark comedy, but comedy nonetheless), and The Hangover II (not actually a horrendous oversight, but keep in mind that the original won this category two years ago).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical

Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage

Perhaps the most surprising inclusions here are the two Carnage women: neither Foster nor Winslet have received terrific reviews for the film (which is apparently a Polanski misstep), so to see them here is interesting, to say the least. Theron and especially Williams have dominated the Oscar conversation of these five, so their inclusion is of no surprise. And though it's not necessarily surprising that Wiig was nominated, it's good to see her getting recognized for her standout performance in Bridesmaids; in discussion of that film she usually gets overshadowed by breakout Melissa McCarthy, but she's the film's emotional core and, personally, best performance.Notable exclusions: well, Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher) and Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses) were technically eligible here, but I don't suspect they're terribly missed either.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Gordon-Levitt

The comedy categories are usually good for throwing in the occasional oddball nomination for a performance in a little-seen film, and Gleeson's work in The Guard certainly qualifies this year. The HFPA clearly has a crush on Gosling (who doesn't?), nominated him for his clever-if-slight work in CSL. Dujardin and JGL brought heavier work, and it would be interesting to see if the latter can get some heat for his increasingly-unlikely Oscar campaign. And Wilson's work isn't necessarily anything new, but he made an acceptable Woody stand-in and was dependably charming. Out of those left out, I actually thought Steve Carell was better in CSL. Otherwise there's nothing else particularly egregious missing this year.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

This could very well end up being the Oscar lineup as well. The real question is whether Chastain will take hold of all the attention she's getting for The Help and focus her campaign on that particular film, or if she'll keep up the nebulous push for the other 50000 films she showed up in over the year. The notable omission here is Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus), and since she missed a SAG nomination as well, her monster-mama performance may be in danger of missing out on Oscar nomination morning. Also notable: no love for Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy, but with only five nominations for this category, its understandable that someone had to be overlooked.

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Oscar-wise, this has been the hardest category to predict, since Plummer and Brooks have (deservedly) hogged all of the critics' prizes so far. However, Globe nominations for Branagh and Mortensen are welcome, and regardless of what you think of his career, Hill gave a surprisingly soulful and subtle performance in Moneyball and is certainly worthy of recognition. Given how much they loved The Ides of March and their past love for Philip Seymour Hoffman, I'm surprised he couldn't pull out a nomination here. Neither, it seems, could Max von Sydow, who's still considered a strong contender despite barely any love for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Best Animated Feature Film
The Adventures Of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Puss In Boots
Rango


The interesting thing here is how much this is going to line up with the Oscar category this year. The Globes have never really embraced foreign animation the same way that the Academy has, so this roster isn't all that diverse: even a subpar Pixar effort made the list. This does, however, propose an interesting question: will The Adventures of Tintin, which managed to score a nomination here, be the first motion-capture film to break into the Animated Feature category? As of right now, there's still enough submissions for five nominees at the Oscars (rejoice in The Smurfs' disqualification!), so anything's possible. But we must ask ourselves: what here is most deserving? There's no film with unanimous, this-is-a-masterpiece-type praise, so what will voters rally around? Notable omission: Kung Fu Panda 2 and Happy Feet 2. Though neither was as beloved as their predecessors, they were both successes financially and among fans.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Flowers Of War (China)
In The Land Of Blood And Honey (United States)
The Kid With A Bike (Belgium)
A Separation (Iran)
The Skin I Live In (Spain)

Interestingly, only two of these films will be competing for the Oscar (A Separation and The Flowers of War), but they still managed to get some stars into the proceedings: Christian Bale appears in The Flowers of War, Antonio Bandaras stars in The Skin I Live In, and In the Land of Blood and Honey is the directoral debut of Angelina Jolie. It should be interesting to see how this category turns out, but kudos to recognizing the Dardennes' The Kid with a Bike. Notable omission: Mexico's Miss Bala, which has been a festival favorite all year.

Best Director - Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Scorsese is a renowned director, but it still boggles my mind that Hugo, of all films, has garnered him the attention that it has. Granted, great directors often have a surprise or two (or in Scorsese's case, several), but I'm still blown away that this film turned out to be one of them. Clooney is the biggest surprise here, once again evidence that they really liked The Ides of March. Clooney excepted, this could be the Oscar lineup. Notable omissions include Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Steven Spielberg (War Horse), and the strangely-resurgent Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), who I'm definitely cheering for.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, The Descendants
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Moneyball

Apart from The Ides of March, whose Oscar chances are slipping with each passing day, all of these will likely carry over to the Academy's expanded screenplay categories. The interesting question is which of these will HFPA choose to honor: the silent film? The family drama? The Woody Allen comeback? Personally, from what I've seen, I'd go with Moneyball, which took very dry material and turned it into a very human story of passion and loss.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Howard Shore, Hugo
John Williams, War Horse

What? You mean you can actually have an Original Score category that doesn't include Alexandre Desplat? I'm kidding, but the man put forward some very prolific work this past year, so its surprising to see him excluded here. Bource, Shore, and Williams were essentially locks, the former because he scored a silent film, the latter two by name recognition and legacy. I am surprised they went with Korzeniowski over Alberto Iglesias (The Skin I Live In), and the return of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is somewhat unexpected (especially since many were assuming double nominations for John Williams, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin).

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Hello Hello," Gnomeo and Juliet
Music By: Elton John
Lyrics By: Bernie Taupin

"The Keeper," Machine Gun Preacher
Music & Lyrics By: Chris Cornell

"Lay Your Head Down," Albert Nobbs
Music By: Brian Byrne
Lyrics By: Glenn Close

"The Living Proof," The Help
Music By: Thomas Newman, Mary J. Blige and Harvey Mason, Jr.
Lyrics By: Mary J. Blige, Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas

"Masterpiece," W.E.
Music & Lyrics By: Madonna, Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry

As with Oscar, the Original Song category is often baffling, namely because the rules of eligibility are damn near impossible to understand, and the Globes rarely intersect much with the Oscars here. In short, there are superstars a-plenty among the nominees, so someone's certain to go home happy. Notable exclusion: "Bridge of Light," P!nk's contribution to Happy Feet 2.

Best Television Series - Drama
American Horror Story (FX)
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Boss (STARZ)
Game Of Thrones (HBO)
Homeland (SHOWTIME)


The Globes are pretty famous for "hey, look, shiny new things!" nominations in their television categories, which they can afford to do thanks to the ceremony's position in the middle of the television season. Interestingly, there's absolutely no network programs in this year's drama category, and only one show from basic cable. Sure, one can wonder, "how did they pass over Breaking Bad?" But I like to think that the Globes embraced the gonzo spirit of nominee American Horror Story, which is addictively watchable but only because its a batshit-crazy train wreck and not necessarily a great work of television. But kudos for recognizing critically-acclaimed series such as Homeland and Boss, as well as the HBO stalwarts. But the real lesson to learn here is that the HFPA really loves Ryan Murphy.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness

There's a lot to love about this category: Danes, Enos, and Margulies either received or will soon receive Emmy nominations for their roles. And Stowe has been celebrated for being the best part of the best primetime soap opera since the '80s, REVEEEEEEEEEENGE!!!!!!! Thorne, on the other hand, is the recipient of the Piper Perabo Memorial WTF Nominations for a USA program, as there's really no reason why she should be nominated, especially when given the depth of potential nominees (Friday Night Lights ended in the eligibility period, so no Connie Britton? Not even a pity nomination for the terrible role she's trapped in on American Horror Story?).

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Kelsey Grammer, Boss 
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Damian Lewis, Homeland

This, too, is pretty much the lineup that you could expect, and it's all basic cable or premium cable. How many of these men will reprise at next year's Emmys? And with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) mysteriously out of contention, who will claim the prize this year: last year's champ Buscemi or one of the others?

Best Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
Enlightened (HBO)
Episodes (SHOWTIME)
Glee (FOX)
Modern Family (ABC)
New Girl (FOX)

It turns out that, despite very low ratings (even for HBO), Enlightened paid off critically, and this nomination was probably a factor in the show's recent unexpected renewal. Episodes, too, was something of an unexpected guest at the Emmys, and its also surprising to see here. I don't understand why Glee still gets recognition; yes, this season has been something of an improvement over the previous one, but its still got major problems (for almost every problem its fixed, its created a new one) and you can't tell me that its better than Parks & Recreation, Louie, Happy Endings, The Middle, or even almost-great newbie Up All Night. And New Girl...well, it's main premise was never going to hold, but I'm still waiting for it to move beyond the "look at how quirky Zooey Deschanel is! She's so adorkable!" vibe and actually make Jess an interesting character.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation

Dern

I guess the Globes just aren't crazy about Melissa McCarthy, who won this category at the Emmys for Bridesmaids, erm, Mike & Molly. I can't really get behind Deschanel because I do think she's just being asked to be herself, or at least the Internet's perception of her, rather than an actual character. I do love some Dern, though, and it would be great to see her win here.

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
David Duchovny, Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Long after the world has given up on Jane (Hung was just recently cancelled by HBO, which never cancels anything) and Duchovny (is Californication really still on? It is on Showtime, which never met a show it couldn't stretch past plausibility), the Globes continue to throw them what I imagine is the only recognition they get for their work. I'm also confused as to how Galecki got a nomination and Emmy winner Jim Parsons didn't. Otherwise, this isn't really an exceptional category. Especially with no Louis C.K.

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
Cinema Verite (HBO)
Downton Abbey (Masterpiece) (PBS)
The Hour (BBC AMERICA)
Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Too Big To Fail (HBO)

This is more or less exactly the Emmy category from this year. And I honestly don't have anything more to say about it, except that Downton Abbey will probably win again.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Romola Garai, The Hour
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Another win for Winslet is pretty much guaranteed.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)
Idris Elba, Luther
William Hurt, Too Big to Fail
Bill Nighy, Page Eight (Masterpiece)
Dominic West, The Hour

I'm really confused by what makes a miniseries. As I understand it, miniseries are limited-run series that have a definitive endpoint. But both Downton Abbey and Luther have received second-season orders, which means they aren't actually miniseries anymore, right? Right?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family 
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Piece

No love for Emmy winners Julie Bowen (Modern Family) or Margo Martindale (Justified)? That's a shame. But the nod for Lange is a pleasant surprise: she's easily the most watchable aspect of American Horror Story, and deserves something for that.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite 
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

There's room enough for Emmy-winner Dinklage, but not for Phil Dunphy (Modern Family's Ty Burrell). But the rest of this category is interesting enough.

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