Gold Standard

Golden Globes are just meaningless fun -- except for these 5 races

If you're tuning into the Golden Globes on Sunday night to see how hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler incorporate the Sony hack into their opening monologue (best guess: newly discovered emails!) or glean any sign of the impending Cumber-Baby or find out who will be the first person to mention Ben Affleck's privates in "Gone Girl," that's fine. You're watching for all the right reasons.

Just don't assign much meaning to the prizes themselves. Oscar balloting ended Thursday. The nominations are locked. And final voting for the Academy Awards won't begin until Feb. 6, by which point the only people remembering the Globes will be the winners themselves — and the movie marketers who will start trumpeting the wins the next morning.

Still, there are sometimes small moments — Tommy Lee Jones' Grumpy Cat meme, Jennifer Lawrence delivering another awkwardly endearing speech — that leave a lasting impression. Here are five categories to watch that might in some way have a bearing on the hardware handouts to come:


The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and the film academy have envy issues. The HFPA craves respect. The academy wishes the Oscars, bound by its rigid format, could be as fun as the Globes. So the jealousy spiral continues, with the academy jostling its dates to mess with the Globes and the HFPA retaliating by hiring talented hosts like Fey and Poehler, who would never in a million years be crazy enough to sign on for Oscar duty.

This dynamic also plays out in the awards themselves. The HFPA loves to beat the academy to the punch. "Oh, you gave '12 Years a Slave' best picture? We did too. SEVEN WEEKS AGO!" While this sort of flag-planting doesn't always happen (In recent years, the Globes picked "The Social Network" over "The King's Speech" and "Avatar" prevailed over "The Hurt Locker"), it's a good rule of thumb, which would mean Oscar front-runner "Boyhood" should prevail here.

That said, "The Imitation Game," a movie with more of an international flair, might appeal to this bunch of foreigners. C'mon, who doesn't want to beat the Nazis and hate on homophobia? And if it does win, short-sighted Oscar pundits will jump off the "Boyhood" bandwagon faster than Scott Rudin cans an assistant. That "The Imitation Game" comes from awards Svengali Harvey Weinstein will only add fuel to the fire.


Three of the four acting Oscar races — lead actress (Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"), supporting actor (J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash") and supporting actress (Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood") — already seem decided.

Like Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto last year, this trio had better hire a writing team to come up with acceptance-speech variations on gratitude and humility. (And no, simply doing a "good job" won't cut it. Right, J.K.?)

That leaves lead actor as the year's lone area of intrigue. And, fortunately, it's such a deep, competitive category that it could save awards season all by itself. Here, Eddie Redmayne, so marvelous in rising to the demanding challenge of playing Stephen Hawking, rates as the favorite over Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game") and David Oyelowo ("Selma"). Like most British actors, young Redmayne is quite the charmer and a winning acceptance speech could cement his leader-of-the-pack status ...


... unless Michael Keaton does Redmayne one better when he triumphs here for his turn in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's dazzling dark comedy "Birdman." Academy voters remember speeches, and Keaton has already delivered crowd-pleasers this season. How these two guys perform at the podium could sway a few votes in what figures to be a tight race.


"Birdman" is also the front-runner here and likely to prevail. However, if Wes Anderson's magnificent "The Grand Budapest Hotel" — a favorite among some HFPA members — pulls off an upset, it would continue its upward surge. "Budapest" began the award season as a long shot (who will remember a movie released all the way back in March?) but has gained strength, winning countless guild awards and critics prizes. A Globe win would continue to boost its visibility and viability.


The academy's directors branch would do well to mirror the HFPA's five nominees — Richard Linklater ("Boyhood"), David Fincher ("Gone Girl"), Ava DuVernay ("Selma"), Iñárritu and Anderson. Name brands have done well in this category. Iñárritu was nominated eight years ago for "Babel." Give him a slight edge over Linklater, making it two in a row for Mexican-born directors (Alfonso Cuarón won last year for "Gravity") and giving "Boyhood" doubters another reason to believe that the best picture race remains a work in progress.

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