Netflix dominates this year's bozo awards, but a snub for Robert De Niro and an all-male director's shortlist threatens to derail any good work.
As ever with the Golden Globes (with any award ceremony for that matter), it's what's not what's on the list, but what's not on there that steals the spotlight. I already risk going off on a "Chandian" rant about zero nods for 'Bait', 'Monos', 'Dirty God', 'The Souvenir' and 'So Long, My Son' that - among countless others - failed to make nominations history largely by default of the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association having not seen them due to their low-budget and lack of Box Office material. Good thing I plan to have my own mini awards ceremony on this blog to celebrate what's really the "best in film"!
All you need to know about the Globes to judge their artistic merit is that they once awarded Pia Zadora the Best Newcomer award for her role in 'Butterfly' ( ). Believe me, that's a better joke than anything the central bunch of bozo journalists have come up with for yet another depressing year. Innevitably Globe defenders will pitch the time-old argument that the reason we should pay any attention to them at all is due to their inclination towards comedy (a genre Mr. OSCAR traditionally choses to neglect). And yet every year their decisions in the infamous "Best Comedy or Musical" showcase have us head-scratching, skin-picking and down-right gorging our eyeballs out in bafflement at their stupidity.
Take the addition of 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood' - a preposterously ill-disciplined spin on the Manson Murders from Hollywood hack Quentin Tarantino - in the said category as an example. Regardless of my opinion of the film, the fact that something based on the slaughter of a pregnant actress is considered one of the five best "comedies" of the year is a steamin' pile of "BAH!".
Perhaps the show should redeem itself with 5 nods for 'The Irishman'. Martin Scorsese's mob masterpiece represents the most quintessentially Scorsean he's been in 30 years. Of course, the film wouldn't be anywhere near as successful without the presence of Robert De Niro who - after a decade of revolting comedies like 'Meet the Fockers' (2004) and 'Dirty Grandpa' (2016) - finally turned in a performance worthy of the golden age of 'Taxi Driver' (1976) and 'Raging Bull' (1980). And yet - while Joe Pesci and Al Pacino get very deserved recognition in the Best Supporting Actor stakes - the Globes have, for utterly unexplained reasons, left out the man responsible for documenting three decades of mob history through the blink of an eyelid. The word "travesty" doesn't even cut it.
The big Best Actor prize that De Niro stands no chance in hell of winning will innevitably go to Joaquin Phoenix who is skin-crawlingly self-destructive in 'Joker' (2019) - a divisive film that fills the token "comic-book movie" slot in the Best Drama list. I take no shame in expressing my disappointment with Director Todd Phillips's uneven supervillain study (one preachy third act too many) which, for my money, has robbed far more deserving candidates of the limelight.
Similarly, I'm slightly lost for words by the amount of love for 'Marriage Story' which leads the pack for Netflix who are streaming ahead this year with three films dominating the leading slots. With 6 nominations including two admittedly admirable spots for Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Noah Baumbach's film looks set to go head-to-head with fellow Netflix nominee 'The Irishman' for the major prizes. While the latter work will undoubtedly go down as a modern American classic, I can only predict the former's safe, schmaltzy concoctions will be long forgotten come this time next year.
Meanwhile, I haven't seen Sam Mendes's one-take WW1 epic '1917' which opens here January 10th and has garnered reviews like that of the Sistine Chapel, but am snorting in disbelief at 'The Two Popes' (another Netflix one) being recognized as one of the five best drama films of the year. For one thing, it ain't a drama, but a frothy buddy comedy and the concept of a film about two elderly men sitting watching the World Cup being even associated with the word "best" is beyond me.
Also what's Christian Bale doing in the Best Drama Actor catalogue? His hammy, unlocatably-accented race car driver was one of the defining factors that made me switch off during 'Le Mans '66'!
There are unquestionably some nice touches to be found elsewhere. Terrific to see Antonio Banderas get attention for his powerhouse turn in Pedro Almodovar's 'Pain and Glory' (2019) (a promising feat for an actor speaking in a foreign language). Similarly so for Cynthia Erivo who gets a subtle nod for 'Harriet' in a category dominated by Renee Zellweger's booming baritone act in 'Judy'. And yet I can't quite work out why Brad Pitt is in the Supporting Actor slot for his smug and overrated work in the aforementioned 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood' when his best performance of the year was to be found in the deep space of 'Ad Astra'.
For the most damning results, though, simply skim your eyes down another all-male Best Directors. I'm yet to see 'Little Women' which turned out to be the surprise loser despite the early buzz (just one for Saoirse Ronan). Still I can't help, but tear up at the thought of Greta Gerwig, once again, getting nothing at all. Just like 2 years ago she got nothing at all for her assured direction on the wonderful 'Lady Bird' (2018).
Good job, Globes. Good job...
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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