Gripe all you want about the practices of the 90-odd (and we do mean odd) members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and their annual Bizarro World slate of Golden Globe nominations. We get it.
But deep down, we admit we harbor a smidgen of affection for this crazy uncle of the awards season and its ability to look beyond the same old same-old in ways that frequently irritate, yes, but also occasionally make us smile with appreciation.
What’s to be gleaned from this years slate of noms? Here are five take-aways:
No. 1: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
There are snubs, and then there are snubs. And Robert De Niro not being nominated for his supporting turn as the father in “Silver Linings Playbook,” arguably his best acting work in more than a decade, ranks as the type of head-scratcher that, given the HFPA, implies there were other factors in play. First, De Niro couldn’t attend the all-important HFPA press conference for the film. And then too remember De Niro firebombed Globes voters two years ago while accepting the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award. “We’re all in this together,” De Niro said that night, “the filmmakers who make the movies, and the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press who, in turn, pose for pictures with the movie stars.” HFPA members have memories longer than the frequent flier miles accumulated on all those studio-sponsored junkets they attend. Consider this De Niro’s penance.
No. 2: When it comes to humor, rueful works better than raunchy.
When you think back to the year’s great comedies, do you remember how much fun you had watching “Ted” and “21 Jump Street”? Or do you remember the side-splitting antics of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”? (Yes. It was a rhetorical question.) The Globes are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press and, for this savvy bunch of jet-setters, broad, raunchy humor, the kind that we unwashed Americans adore, simply does not translate. Hence, the nominations for “Marigold” and the bittersweet “Salmon Fishing in Yemen,” a little-seen March release that earned a best picture nom in the comedy/musical category seemingly on the strength of voters’ love for stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt and the magic wand of CBS Films’ co-president and HFPA whisperer Terry Press.
No. 3: The director race remains a bloodbath, and the Globe noms did little to change that.
The Globes have separate categories for drama and comedy/musical, but when it comes to director and screenplay, it’s boiled down to a group of five. This year, Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”), Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”) made the cut, sidelining the likes of Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) and David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”). HFPA voters traditionally favor the dramatic side here, so the exclusion of Hooper and Russell doesn’t cripple their Oscar chances. One of them likely will join the group at the expense of Tarantino, whose ultra-violent journey about slavery world won’t play well with older academy members, even if the NAACP nominated it for its annual Image Awards.
No. 4: And the lead actress race? That remains unsettled too.
We knew little Quvenzhane Wallis wasn’t going to win a SAG nomination Wednesday since her film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was deemed ineligible. But a snub from HFPA certainly doesn’t help her or the movie, which was conspicuously absent from picture and screenplay categories too. Meanwhile, New York Film Critics winner Rachel Weisz (“The Deep Blue Sea”), Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”) and Helen Mirren (“Hitchcock”) joined Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone”) in drama. We’re willing to put Cotillard, Chastain and “Silver Linings Playbook’s” Jennifer Lawrence into our circle of trust. After that? Who knows? But we’re not willing to count out little Hushpuppy yet.
No. 5: Like you and me, Globe voters have their favorites.
Like, say, Maggie Smith playing a variation of her patented, smart-tongued grumpster in “Quartet” and “Downton Abbey.” Or Nicole Kidman winning her ninth and 10th Globe nominations for the widely despised TV movie “Hemingway & Gellhorn” and the deranged, sweaty melodrama “The Paperboy.” (That’s one screener a lot more academy members will watch — and turn off — after Kidman’s double-dip noms from SAG and the Globes.) Or Meryl Streep vacuuming up her 27th Golden Globe nomination for “Hope Springs,” a nod that elicited a groan or two from the media throng when it was announced, even though Streep arguably delivers more nuanced work there than she did in her Oscar-winning turn in “The Iron Lady” last year.
But then, “The Iron Lady” had a benefactor even more well versed than Streep in awards-season currents: Harvey Weinstein. His presence loomed large at this year’s Globes too, with Weinstein Co. movies — “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Django,” “The Master,” “Quartet” and foreign film nominees “The Intouchables” and “Kon-Tiki” — pulling in a leading 15 nominations. Weinstein knows how to wine and dine this bunch, but this year he had plenty of appealing films to go along with the shrimp cocktails.