Golden Globes 2019: Not according to script
The 76th Golden Globe Awards on Monday morning witnessed a series of unexpected and sometimes baffling choices, and blew the awards race wide open. Only a handful of decisions taken by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the voting body made up of foreign journalists living in Los Angeles, were as expected. No one could have dreamt that the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody would take home Best Picture (Drama), beating BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk. Similarly, Green Book’s writers winning Best Screenplay over four highly qualified rivals was a jarring upset.
Green Book also won Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) – a controversial choice, but no more so than Bohemian Rhapsody winning in the drama section, given its lackluster reviews and the criticism it got for the partial erasure of Mercury’s queer identity. Alfonso Cuaron deservedly won Best Director; bafflingly, his film Roma wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, even with so many slots on offer. He was luckier than Damien Chazelle, whose First Man is a strong contender for the most technically accomplished film of 2018, and yet couldn’t find a place on the Best Picture or Director shortlists.
It may be time for the Globes to end their bifurcation of three major categories – Best Picture, Actor, Actress – into Comedy/Musical and Drama. Every year, questions are raised about the slotting of nominees. Shouldn’t Bohemian Rhapsody – a film about a rock band – be in the comedy/musical section? Aren’t Vice and The Favourite more drama than comedy? Could someone explain why A Star Is Born is not a musical?
Lead actor honors went to Christian Bale for his portrayal of Dick Cheney in Vice (a rare expected win) and Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody, for the drama and comedy/musical sections respectively. Glenn Close won Best Actress (Drama) for The Wife; Olivia Colman won in the other category for her Queen Anne in The Favourite. Supporting actor was awarded to Mahershala Ali (Green Book); Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) won supporting actress. Justin Hurwitz was awarded for his excellent First Man score, while Roma beat its closest rival, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Shoplifters, to claim Best Foreign Language Picture.
The Golden Globes are regarded as the drunker, looser cousin of the Academy Awards. It lived up to this reputation, with hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg addressing the audience and often getting responses back. When Oh drily remarked that Crazy Rich Asians was “the first studio film with an Asian-American lead since Ghost in the Shell and Aloha” (both of which were accused of whitewashing their Asian lead characters), Emma Stone, star of Aloha, yelled “I’m sorry” from her seat. And when the hosts picked on Lady Gaga’s overused line about Bradley Cooper being the one person out of a hundred in a room who believed in her, the singer shouted in mock-protest before the sentence was finished.
One decision that everyone could get behind was the awarding of Best Drama Series to The Americans, which brought its superlative six-season run to a close last year. The spy series has been a critical darling since its inception, but awards consideration has been sparse, so it was heartening to see it go out on top. Stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys lost out to Sandra Oh for Killing Eve and Richard Madden for The Bodyguard in the dramatic actor category; in the comedy section, Rachel Brosnahan won for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Michael Douglas for The Kominsky Method. Best Comedy Series went to The Kominsky Method, a sedate option when you consider that Barry, The Good Place, Kidding and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel were on the shortlist.
With the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs coming up, the Oscar race will now kick into high gear. Hopefully the Academy’s choices will feature films like Roma, First Man and Beautiful Boy more prominently, and find place for boundary-pushing works like First Reformed and Madeline’s Madeline. By virtually shutting out the non-English-speaking world, the Oscars and Golden Globes narrow the breadth and quality of their selection. If they ignore the best of English language cinema as well, they’ll be left with dangerously little.
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