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72nd Golden Globe Awards (2014-15):
Film Nominations Preview and Predictions

Watch the Golden Globe nominations announced live, Thursday 5:00 AM Pacific:

Hollywood's award season is heating up. All of the contenders have been screened and the few that have yet to open will do so in the next few weeks.
The Online Film Critics Society, an organization to which I have belonged since 2011, will be issuing nominations today. The Golden Globes will do so early Thursday morning, December 11th, a month before the awards themselves are presented, as usual, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.

The Globes have long been considered at best second to the Oscars among the major movie awards. There is no disputing the prestige and significance of the Academy Awards, which is why the award season always culminates with them. In contrast, many have questioned the validity of the Globes, with their sometimes ridiculous choices that often seem dictated more by celebrity star power than genuine achievement. Serious film buffs may find greater value in the awards given out by New York and Los Angeles critics organizations, the American Film Institute's annual list of ten best US films (also announcing today), the various guild awards, and Independent Spirit Awards held on the Oscars' eve.

The Golden Globes

No one seems to talk or care about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association apart from the one weekend in the middle of January when the movie world turns their attentions to them. Who are these Hollywood Foreign Press? Ninety-one international journalists who are based in Southern California and write about movies all year long. They hail from all over the world, but mostly Europe. It is doubtful you recognize their names or have read their work because they apparently write for their distant audiences back home.
Why their opinion matters than other critics, I don't know.

Nonetheless, I've come to appreciate the Globes in recent years, with last January's ceremony being the first to clearly best the subsequent Oscars in my mind. For one thing, the Globes are just more entertaining. While the Globes have been around for over 70 years, they don't have the same legacy and history of the Academy Awards. They also attract slightly less than half of the viewership. All this enables the show to be less formal and more fun. Returning to host for the third straight year, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey may lack the bite and controversy of their three-time predecessor Ricky Gervais, but they are reliably witty and amusing, setting the tone for the evening.

That evening does devote an awful lot of time to television, a medium I have largely fallen out of touch with and will not be covering here. But unlike the Emmys, there is not an abundance of awards given out. You won't find the niche and technical honors that always seem to drag out the Oscars and turn predictions pools into a crapshoot. And three Musical or Comedy categories enable the Globes to award movies and performances that won't be deemed serious or important enough for the Academy Awards. They're also less predictable, since Musical or Comedy categories aren't a thing with most award shows. Last year's Oscars, everybody correctly assumed that Gravity would sweep the technical categories, but lose Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave. Meanwhile, the Globes were able to recognize American Hustle, my favorite film of the year by far, no fewer than three times. Even perennial Oscar bridesmaid Leonardo DiCaprio got to win something. A year earlier, the Globes' Best Director race included Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino, and Kathryn Bigelow, three filmmakers improbably overlooked in the Oscars' equivalent, which boiled down to Steven Spielberg vs. Ang Lee.

Movies generally don't tout Golden Globe wins on their home video covers. Their losses and victories aren't remembered by many for more than a day. But the Globes have recognized some of my favorite films and actors over the years. Movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Toy Story, Midnight Run, The Lion King, The Incredibles, Big, Big Fish, and About a Boy, marginalized at the Oscars if nominated at all, all got to compete for Best Picture as they deserved.

Anyway, I could think of no better way to express my improving view of the Globes and excitement over their annual nominations than by predicting what is announced later this week based on historical trends, early precusor awards, critical consensus, gut feelings, and the films themselves. On that last point, I should confess that there are a few 2014 films I've yet to see, including Selma, American Sniper, The Imitation Game, A Most Violent Year, and The Gambler (all of which are at a disadvantage and thus may hardly feature among the OFCS nominees).

In "Gone Girl", Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) becomes the primary suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Best Picture - Drama
The Imitation Game
Gone Girl

A weak year has enabled universally acclaimed summer indie Boyhood to emerge as the film to beat this season. That's why I almost didn't even have it getting a nomination here. If everyone assumes it's getting in, they might not back it as much as they otherwise might. The Globes are famous for their celebrity appreciation and little Boyhood is the least glamorous and star-studded of all these films when you consider Unbroken's director. Films as small and truly independent as Boyhood almost never feature in this category. While if any film is to break the trend, it's this one, it might take a field of six (as the Globes used in 2004) or seven (as they had in 2007) to stay in contention amongst these Hollywood heavyweights.

Next in line: Interstellar, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything

Before you dismiss Interstellar under the fact that awards disrespect science fiction, consider that Avatar won this honor in 2009 over The Hurt Locker.

Oliver Bronstein (Jaeden Lieberher) trudges up clouds of dirt in mowing the backyard of little grass in the backyard of his next-door neighbor and babysitter Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray).

Best Picture - Musical or Comedy
Into the Woods
The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians is not something that anyone else is predicting, but why not? Its Musical or Comedy designation is deserved and it is one of the best films of the year in any genre. The Globes used to regularly recognize blockbuster films in this category; past winners include Mrs. Doubtfire, The Lion King, and Toy Story 2,
before animated films got relegated to their own kids' table award. One thing working against Guardians is that as far as I can tell, Marvel doesn't do any kind of awards campaigning whatsoever, nor does Disney for them. That may not hurt them in the Oscars' technical categories; Iron Man 3 earned a Visual Effects nomination without sending a screener to Academy members. But given that other studios campaign hard and spend much for this category, Guardians' ambivalence may eliminate it from contention.

Next in line: Big Eyes, Begin Again

To many, Inherent Vice seems like a contender, but it'd be pretty out there compared to what the Globes have picked in the past. Big Eyes doesn't seem to be destined for the big awards splash you'd expect from a Christmas Day Weinstein Company opening, but the Globes have been kind to Tim Burton in the past; Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd, and even Alice in Wonderland were all nominated in this category.

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Best Actors and Beyond

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Posted December 8, 2014.

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