What to expect at the 2017 Golden Globes... besides champagne

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It’s January, which can only mean one thing! No, I don’t mean frigid temperatures, failed resolutions or a new direction in our national politics. January is when the Golden Globes are awarded! (Oh, and when the Oscar nominations are announced. Okay, so January means two things.) 

For the uninitiated, the usually festive and champagne-soaked Golden Globes air this Sunday on NBC, the only non-EGOT awards ceremony to air in primetime on a major broadcast network. It is perhaps for this reason that the Globes have maintained an air of importance and predictive expectation for the Oscars, even as other awards have become historically more accurate predictors of the final Oscars outcome (like the Screen Actors Guild or some of the critics awards). It is also one of the few awards that recognizes both TV and Film together – which, along with the champagne and stars who drink it, is likely why NBC has continued airing the show well past its legitimate predictive relevancy to the Oscars campaign.

The Globes are also unique in that they separate the best film and lead acting awards into separate genre categories: Dramas and Musicals/Comedies. (Note that raucous romp “The Martian” won Best Comedy at last year’s Globes. Yep, really.) The genre separation creates a lost opportunity for Oscars watchers, especially this year, as there is no head-to-head matchup between an Oscar frontrunner “La La Land,” and the other top contenders.

There are still a few races worth watching at this year’s Globes, however, and along with the aforementioned celebs and their booze, it should be a fun Sunday night.

In the Best Motion Picture categories, “La La Land” should be the easy winner in the Comedy/Musical category. The Drama side is much more interesting. “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight,” and “Hell Or High Water” could all legitimately win this award. The other nominees “Lion” and “Hacksaw Ridge” feel like also-rans already.  The Oscar landscape has been relatively static the past few months, with “La La Land,” “Moonlight,” and “Manchester by the Sea” appearing to be consensus frontrunners for the top awards. This big three, as it were, has the potential to stay a triplet or turn into a top two, depending on Sunday’s outcomes along with other major awards over the next few weeks. If “Moonlight” wins the Best Drama award, which I predict and seems likely, “Manchester by the Sea” could drop out of the serious conversation for many top Oscars except Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. However, if “Manchester” is able to sneak by and capture the unlikely win, the campaign will likely remain a top three to the end. If “La La Land” doesn’t win in its respective genre, it’s in serious trouble.

In the lead acting categories, expect Casey Affleck to win the male Drama trophy for his turn in “Manchester by the Sea,” but don’t be surprised if Denzel Washington upsets the frontrunner given the recently highlighted allegations of sexual misconduct against Affleck. The female lead acting races are another unfortunate missed opportunity for fans of Oscar – Natalie Portman should win Drama for “Jackie” and Emma Stone seems like a lock for her career-making turn in “La La Land.” If neither of them wins, their Oscar odds drop considerably. But since neither of them can beat the other, we also won’t learn anything about the equivalent Oscar race, which is one of this year’s best. Finally, best male actor in a Musical/Comedy seems like a relatively unimportant race – Ryan Gosling should win, and will probably be the only Oscar nominee from that group.

The final Globes category with serious top-billed Oscar implications is the Best Director of any Motion Picture award. Unlike best film and lead acting, the Globes don’t separate the directing award into genres. This means that we get a serious head-to-head between the top contenders for the year. Again this is likely a race between the directors of the big three movies – “La La Land,” “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea.” Sound familiar? 

The three directors, Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins and Kenneth Lonergan, respectively, also wrote the Original Screenplays for their movies, another potential preview of an Oscar category. Even given the lack of reliable predictability for the Globes, the winner of this should emerge as the front runner for the Oscar in February, and their movie the leading contender for Best Picture, as well. Knowing the Hollywood Foreign Press’s susceptibility to politics and movie star campaigning, I think we’ll see “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle win this award, but it really is hard to predict. “Moonlight” director Jenkins could just as easily take it, further shifting the discussion before the Academy makes their nominee announcements a week later. If noted playwright Kenneth Lonergan wins for his somber and heartbreaking “Manchester by the Sea,” then all bets are off. 

This really is fantastic year for film, and if any year is one for surprises I think this is it. At this point, every single movie that could be nominated for an Academy Award has come out. Many of what are considered the Oscar contenders will have a chance at recognition at this weekend’s Golden Globes. While the Globes may not always be the most accurate predictor of Oscar glory, it’s still a chance for the year’s films to get their due.  And again, there will be lots of beautiful people drinking champagne! 

We’ll recap the full Golden Globes show and talk about its Oscar implications on Monday on The Seat Fillers podcast – listen and subscribe for all of our 2017 Oscars coverage.