LOS ANGELES — How the Hollywood pendulum swings: The Golden Globe Awards seem poised to dispense with the seriousness that marked last year’s ceremony, when actresses draped themselves in black to protest sexual harassment and Oprah Winfrey offered a Time’s Up cri de coeur from the stage. This time around? “Positive and celebratory” is how the co-host Andy Samberg described the plan.
Attacks on President Trump, as common as feigned surprise at award shows in recent years, may also be minimal. “I’m not interested in that at all,” Sandra Oh, the ceremony’s other co-host and a nominee for the television drama “Killing Eve,” told The Hollywood Reporter recently.
NBC and the givers of the Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have been promising “One Big Party!” in ads. There will be bubbles (3,500 mini-bottles of Moët & Chandon Champagne) and a ballroom stuffed with 15,000 tulips.
Oh, yes. And the trophies. Those are almost beside the point at this particular awards stop, which is mostly seen as a moneymaking moment — for NBC, for studios that gain a marketing hook for winter films, for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Besides, the association, with a long history of voting idiosyncrasies, has only 88 people who cast ballots. The Oscars, awarded next month, are voted on by about 8,200 movie industry professionals.
Over the last 10 years, the Globes and the Oscars have agreed on best picture winners 50 percent of the time. Last year, the foreign press association crowned “Lady Bird” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Neither won at the Academy Awards, which recognized “The Shape of Water.”
For a change, the big winner on Sunday is expected to be a movie that most people have actually seen: “A Star Is Born,” with roughly $390 million in global ticket sales, will almost certainly take the prize for best drama. Lady Gaga, who plays the title role, is considered a lock for best actress in a drama, while her tear-jerker “Shallow” is the favorite to win best song. Bradley Cooper is nominated for his acting and direction, but there are challengers in those categories.
What we’re seeing so far
Amazon may have an edge in TV
For all of the attention given to the movie winners, the Globes ceremony almost always starts with accolades for television work. And best actress in a TV drama promises to be one of the most intriguing matchups, pitting a co-host versus a Hollywood legend.
Oh could win for her performance in BBC America’s buzzy “Killing Eve.” But so could the Oscar-winning Julia Roberts, who is nominated for playing a mysterious counselor on Amazon’s “Homecoming,” her first regular television role. Oh was passed over by Emmys voters in September, which could help her on Sunday; this show loves to be the anti-Emmys.
The best drama category will likewise come down to “Killing Eve” and “Homecoming.” “Homecoming” has the inside edge, if only because the press association has a soft spot for Amazon. That streaming service has had far fewer hits than its rival Netflix, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the Globes. Amazon has won the best comedy award in three of its last four tries, with nods for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Transparent” and the little-watched and much-forgotten “Mozart in the Jungle.”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is expected to repeat in the best musical or comedy award, making it the first consecutive winner in that category since “Glee” in 2010 and 2011. “Barry,” however, has strong upset potential. An HBO comedy about a hit man who becomes an aspiring actor, “Barry” stars Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, who are both in position to follow their Emmy wins with trips to the Globes stage.
‘Green Book’ vs. ‘The Favourite’
Few films have more riding on Sunday night than “Green Book.” It has been a box-office disappointment, collecting $35 million (roughly half of which goes to theater owners) and costing an estimated $50 million to make and market. Some people adore the film’s feel-good depiction of interracial friendship in the Deep South during the 1960s. Others have been appalled by its reliance on racial clichés.
Winning best comedy or musical would give “Green Book” a much-needed boost. And it could happen: 16 of the 23 professional handicappers at Gold Derby, an entertainment honors site, expect “Green Book” to emerge victorious. Its biggest competitor is “The Favourite,” a pitch-black comedy about royal schemers.
Those two films are also squaring off in the screenplay field, where “Vice,” about Dick Cheney’s life, could also be a factor. (“The Favourite” is the front-runner there.)
“Green Book” is similarly positioned in the supporting actor competition, where the Globe could easily go to Mahershala Ali, who plays an erudite pianist in the film — or to Richard E. Grant, a nominee for playing an unscrupulous sidekick in the forgery drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
In praise of Jeff Bridges and Carol Burnett
Jeff Bridges will collect the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in film, and Carol Burnett is scheduled to accept a new award, named after her, for career achievement in television. Will either give a speech that goes viral?
Neither are known for throwing down gauntlets. Bridges, 69, usually turns folksy when accepting awards, as he last did at the Globes in 2010, for his acting in “Crazy Heart.” Burnett, 85, has spoken about being proud of avoiding political topics during the tumultuous 1970s, when her “Carol Burnett Show” was at its peak. “I think that’s why our show is still viable 50 years later,” she told Conan O’Brien in May.
But lifetime achievement winners at the Globes have recently thrown lightning bolts — as Meryl Streep did in 2017, when she condemned President Trump as “insidious,” and Winfrey did last year. If he is feeling feisty, Bridges might promote one of his favorite causes, which include ending childhood hunger and saving the Amazon rain forest. Burnett could criticize Hollywood for its treatment of women, as she (very gently) did while accepting a similar trophy at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
A diverse set of nominees. Winners may be another story.
At the very least, expect discussion from someone — the hosts, winners, presenters — about one serious topic: moviedom’s long-overdue effort to embrace diversity.
Three movies from black filmmakers and featuring leading characters who are black (“Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”) are nominated for best drama. Jon Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” celebrated for its primarily Asian cast, is nominated for best comedy or musical.
The only problem? None are expected to win.
The best shot at a Globe for that group of films may be Regina King, a supporting actress nominee for the little-seen “Beale Street.” But Amy Adams (“Vice”) is also a contender, and Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) could sneak through.
Looking for clues about ‘Roma’
The foreign press association, rather strangely (or not, given its focus on celebrity), considers foreign films ineligible for its best picture awards. So the Globes will not offer much guidance on the Oscar fortunes of “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón’s subtitled, black-and-white homage to Mexico City life in the 1970s. (In another quirk, American studios can dictate where their films compete, hence the classification of “A Star Is Born” as a drama and not a musical.)
Globe voters may, however, throw their weight behind Cuarón as best director. (It’s either him or Cooper for “A Star Is Born.”) And “Roma,” a lightning rod in the Academy Awards race because it comes from Netflix, which is challenging the traditional model for releasing films, will easily win the Globe for foreign film.