Making sense of the senseless: Golden Globe nominations 2010

Of course I don’t like their nominations. I never do. I never like the Academy’s either. Or, I never like all of them. With the Academy, there’s too much politicking, vendetta-ism, and make-up awarding going on, but with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group responsible for doling out the Golden Globes, it’s a free for all of insane and happenstance logic. Click here to see the complete list of 2010 Golden Globe nominees.

Here’s what goes on with the Globes. The HFPA is a small group, less than a hundred, and they are accountable to no one. Members do not have stakes in studios or production companies; they aren’t actors and filmmakers responsible for making movies. They can’t vote for themselves and they aren’t invested in which films and TV shows get nominated/win because they didn’t produce any of the eligible work. They’re journalists (if “journalist” can be defined as, “person who watches movies and is amenable to accepting swag”). Technically, they’re outsiders. If the Academy Awards is the film industry patting itself on the back, the Golden Globes are (supposed to be) external validation.

In theory. In reality, the HFPA, because they aren’t beholden to any movie companies or owe loyalty to a certain project, often runs amok with favoritism and a spectacular and hilarious sense of self-importance. Take True Grit, the Coen Brothers remake of the Western classic starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and impressive newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. The Academy loves the Coens—I’ve been saying for a while that True Grit is going to rearrange the Oscar landscape when it opens in late December (indeed, press screenings are under way and it’s already affecting Oscar projections). But the HFPA hates the Coens. So True Grit gets no nominations.

As for those ranting this morning that the Golden Globes don’t mean anything—get over yourselves. Of course they mean something. I get that a lot of people—myself included—question who these people really are, but if the HFPA has done anything well it’s making the Golden Globes important. They’re second-most prestigious awards to be handed out in the film industry—in the US, anyway. I would argue that the BAFTAs in the UK and the Cesars in France are at least just as prestigious, but the Cesars aren’t even on TV in the US, so to the general public, yes, the Golden Globes are the second-most prestigious Hollywood award. And while the gulf between the Academy and HFPA has gotten wider in recent years, Golden Globe nominations will shake up the lines on Oscar wagering. Don’t kid yourselves. Vegas is adjusting right now.

In all, I view the Golden Globes like this—it’s farcical. The HFPA’s decision making is questionable at best, ridiculous at worst. But the show is pretty entertaining, as far as Hollywood award shows go. And the HFPA invited Ricky Gervais back to host in 2011, which is fun. Fun and farcical. That’s the Golden Globes. On to this year’s nominees and what the HFPA got right, and what they didn’t.

The Good

Dramatic movie nominations – I’m satisfied with the five Best Picture (Drama) nominees. And in the leading dramatic acting categories, I like four of the five nominees in both cases. I would drop Halle Berry from Best Actress (Drama) in favor of Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) or Lesley Manville (Another Year), and also boot Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) for Robert Duvall (Get Low). Wahlberg wasn’t really getting a lot of traction for The Fighter—most the attention was going to his supporting costars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. But, showing that the Globes do matter, now he’ll gain real ground in the Best Actor Oscar race.

In the Supporting Actor/Actress categories, again, I’m good with most of the nominees. Mila Kunis (Black Swan) and Michael Douglas (Wall Street 2) are expendable, and Amy Adams (The Fighter) is questionable, too. How about Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), or Matt Damon (True Grit), and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) instead? Oh wait, the HFPA hates the Coens. Nevermind. Ridiculous. Seriously though, Ruffalo is a stronger candidate than Douglas and either Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham) or Barbara Hershey (Black Swan—if you’re nominating out of that movie, it should be her) are more intriguing than Kunis.

The rest of the film categories (writing, directing, foreign language, song, score) are as expected and unobjectionable. Where the HFPA really scores is with Best Animated Feature. The Academy’s rules state that they require sixteen animated films to be submitted for consideration in order to nominate five. This year they got fifteen, so they’re only nominating three. Lame. There are more than five solid animated features this year and the Academy’s technicality is screwing over some good movies (like Idiots and Angels, My Dog Tulip and The Illusionist—basically anything not Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney). The Academy continues to treat cartoons like second-class citizens despite some fine filmmaking, so props to the HFPA for recognizing five animated contenders.

The Bad

The comedy category nominations are a joke. You can clearly see the HFPA’s preferences showing. Their giant man crush on Johnny Depp (nominated for Alice in Wonderland and The Tourist and deserving for neither), their desire to have Pitt Porn on their red carpet (Angelina Jolie gets a nod for The Tourist too, again, stunningly undeserved), their wish that Cher and Xtina show up for Burlesque and do something shocking during the live broadcast. It is good to see Emma Stone (Easy A, in which she does give a fine comedic performance) and Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version, expect to see Giamatti get some Oscar traction now) get some attention, but The Kids Are All Right is not a comedy so I don’t know what it’s doing in this category. And Burlesque, while enjoyably bad, absolutely does not deserve to be nominated for anything outside of the song category (and even then, questionable). Ditto for The Tourist. This does make a valid point, though—2010 was a great year for dramas but a terrible year for comedies.

Television nominations are just as frustrating. I get nominating an actor and not his show (take Hugh Laurie’s Best Actor, Drama Series, nomination—it’s basically saying, “We like your performance but found the show overall to be meh”), but I don’t see how you nominate a show and then not anyone out of the cast. In the Best TV Series, Drama, category, each of the shows got a corresponding acting nomination, except The Walking Dead. Almost makes Dead’s nomination seem like an afterthought, something done to appease the rabble. And no Treme! Treme > Boardwalk Empire. As for TV comedies, it’s not so much that I mind who they nominated, it’s that THEY DIDN’T NOMINATE PARTY DOWN OR COMMUNITY FOR ANYTHING AND THEY WERE THE FUNNIEST SHOWS OF 2010. Not that I’m upset or anything.

While the Globes aren’t a good predictor for how the Academy votes, a Golden Globe nomination does draw the kind of attention that can shake up a competitive Oscar race (see: Wahlberg, Giamatti). It can also swing the other way and derail momentum in an Oscar campaign—The Town took a hit garnering only a Supporting Actor nomination for Jeremy Renner. The Golden Globes are ridiculous. There’s no getting around that. But they do matter. The 2010 award season has just gone pear-shaped.

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4 thoughts on “Making sense of the senseless: Golden Globe nominations 2010

  1. Lula

    Sure The Golden Globes matter. As of today Jennifer Love Hewitt believes the Globes matter more than her boobs.

    OK, dead even with her boobs.

  2. Emily

    To be fair, I don’t really remember any of this year’s comedy films, which I blame for the flabbergasting nominations. I would have nominated Scott Pilgrim over Red (meh) , The Tourist (boring) and Burlesque (just bad). Maybe Easy A. But this was not a good year for the funny. It’s sad that boring movies get recognition because there was not much else. Of course, I’m happy to be corrected.

  3. josephine

    I’m almost done with the 2nd season of Party Down, and I’ve loved every episode. Kyle and Roman are my favorite television duo.

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