Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oscars Central: Golden Globe comedy categories

What are the Globes? They're given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) every January, voted on by 95 or so journalists (most of them part-time, many of them freelance) who live in Hollywood and write for media outside of the US.

But what do the Golden Globes mean? Well, their credibility used to be zilch, since it seemed like any studio could buy a statuette if it paid out enough in perks to Association members. (Pia Zadora, anyone?) But in recent years the HFPA has reformed its gifts policy and has made more satisfying choices, and I have a hard time raising my eyebrow at any awards show with the cajones to go with The Aviator - my pick last year - over the safer Million Dollar Baby. Of course, I have a hard time raising only one eybrow anyway, but that's another story.

I guess it's time to step out on that limb and make some predictions for this year. Let's look at the comedy categories:

Best Actress nominees: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice; Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale; Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone; and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Who will win: I'm pretty sure it will be Reese Witherspoon. She was a tour de force as June Carter, and her chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix was palpable.

Who should win: I'd personally like to see Laura Linney recognized, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Actually, I'd be happy with a win by Witherspoon, too. The real crime is that Joan Allen was overlooked; she was great in The Upside of Anger. Dench's nomination was a knee-jerk reaction (look, she's old, she's fabulous and she's not getting that many roles...but hardly anyone's had a chance to see this performance), and neither Parker or Knightley have the big-screen experiences that would warrant these nominations. That, and the ampersand in Pride & Prejudice really gets on my nerves. Jane Austen is rolling. Simply rolling.

Best Actor nominees: Pierce Brosnan, The Matador; Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale; Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto; and Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line.

Who will win: I'm going to give Phoenix the edge over Depp. Johnny Cash should always win over Michael Jackson.

Seriously, most people have seen Phoenix's and Depp's performances, whereas hardly anyone has seen the others. Yes, even I haven't had a chance to catch The Matador, since it's only been in town since last Friday, so I can't comment on Brosnan's turn as a washed out hit man. I'd love to see Jeff Daniels win; he really made me squirm as the divorcing father in The Squid and the Whale, but unless TS&TW suddenly becomes this year's Sideways I really don't see it happening. And Breakfast is already playing once a day at the Varsity. 'Nuff said.

Who should win: Joaquin Phoenix. But I'd be equally happy with Daniels.

Best Comedy or Musical nominees: Mrs. Henderson Presents; Pride & Prejudice; The Producers; The Squid and the Whale; and Walk the Line.

Okay, let's look at this squarely: No one's pretending that either Mrs. Henderson Presents or Pride & Prejudice are among the top five films of the year. Plus there's that ampersand thing. As a musical comedy - both an adaptation of a stage show and a remake of a classic - love for The Producers has turned into a matter of taste; it's a long shot, but it might happen if TS&TW and Walk the Line cancel each other out.

It really comes down to the big budget biopic and the independent slice-of-life movie. I have to say, as a child of divorce I'm not crazy about TS&TW being in this category, since this film really hit home for me. But it's certainly a lighter subject than McCarthyism or the evils done by drug companies (allegedly), so I'll live with it. I can't really be objective about Walk the Line, either, since my brother worked on the film (props), but I thought it was effective, if not as memorable as Brokeback Mountain, Capote or Good Night, and Good Luck. I'm guessing these films will take the place of Match Point and The Constant Gardener when the Oscar nominations are announced.

Who will win: Walk the Line.

Who should win: Probably Walk the Line, although I'll be screaming my head off if The Squid and the Whale turns into The Little Engine that Could.

I'll be checking back later this week with my predictions in the drama category. What do you think? Does The Producers have a chance in hell? Am I way off with Walk the Line walking away with the Globes? Am I the only person who saw The Squid and the Whale? Drop me a comment.

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