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Golden Globe Awards: Non-English-Language Non-Ceremony Surprises

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Marie-Josée Croze: Golden Globe Awards foreign hits
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly with Marie-Josée Croze: Golden Globe Awards’ non-ceremony eyebrow-raiser. Based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s book of memoirs – reportedly written after Bauby (1952–1997) suffered a stroke that left him totally paralyzed except for his left eyelid, which he used to communicate (and thus “write” the book) – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly unsurprisingly topped the Golden Globe Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. And then it scored a major upset: U.S. filmmaker Julian Schnabel was named Best Director. Mathieu Amalric plays Bauby, alongside Marie-Josée Croze, Emmanuelle Seigner, and veteran Max von Sydow.

Golden Globe Awards: Writers Guild strike results in surprise-filled non-ceremony

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Held earlier today, Jan. 13, the less glitzy, less glamorous, less galling 2008 Golden Globe Awards’ “news show” – a victim of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, now entering its tenth week – has come to a close. There was no red carpet, no fashion show, no journalists asking dumb questions, no mind-numbing speeches, no infantile jokes, no toilet paper stuck on anyone’s shoe.

Even so, it would have been interesting to witness the reaction of the Golden Globe Awards audience as they heard Julian Schnabel’s name announced as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Best Director of 2007 for the French-language Triumph of the Human Spirit drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly / Le Scaphandre et le papillon.

The odds-on favorites had been Joel and Ethan Coen for the all-American thriller No Country for Old Men, which earned the Coen brothers a consolation prize in the form of the Best Screenplay Globe. (See further below the full list of this year’s Golden Globe Awards’ winners and nominees.)

Atonement is surprise British-made Best Picture Drama

Just as interesting would have been the star-studded crowd’s reaction when Joe Wright’s (mostly) British-made Atonement, which has received precious little love from U.S. film critics’ groups and no love whatsoever from the Screen Actors Guild, was named the Golden Globe Awards’ Best Picture Drama – in place of critics’ favorite No Country for Old Men or its awards season runner-up, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.

Indeed, despite its seven nominations – more than any other film this year – Atonement was hardly a front-runner. An international box office hit, the period romantic drama starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, and veteran Vanessa Redgrave (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for Julia, 1977) ended up winning only one other Globe, for Dario Marianelli’s score.

Another French-language surprise

And if Julia Schnabel’s French-language win wasn’t enough, Marion Cotillard, not Ellen Page of the domestic (English-language) sleeper hit Juno, was named Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for her performance as chanteuse Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan’s French-made biopic La Vie en Rose / La Môme – which, one should point out, happens to be neither a comedy nor a musical.

Schnabel’s and Cotillard’s wins are particularly noteworthy because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – despite the presence of the word “foreign” in its name – has rarely nominated non-English-language productions in the Golden Globe Awards’ regular categories.

For instance, in the last decade only two other performers in non-English-language releases vied for the two big-screen Best Actress Globes: Fernanda Montenegro for Walter Salles’ Portuguese-language drama Central Station / Central do Brasil (1998) and Penélope Cruz for Pedro Almodóvar’s Spanish-language comedy-drama Volver (2006, listed as Drama).

That should come as no surprise. After all, the Golden Globe Awards are geared to the American film industry and American TV viewers. Non-English-language films, for instance, are actually ineligible in the Best Picture Drama/Musical or Comedy categories.

Horror musical tops Golden Globe Awards

Among this year’s other unexpected turn of events was the HFPA’s choice of Tim Burton’s commercially underperforming dark musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as Best Picture Musical or Comedy – instead of Jason Reitman’s more popular and better-received Juno.

To a lesser extent, the choice of Best Supporting Actress Cate Blanchett, as one of the many Bob Dylan incarnations in Todd Haynes’ modest commercial performer I’m Not There, might have raised a few eyebrows as well. Two-time Tony nominee Amy Ryan has been the Best Supporting Actress favorite among U.S. critics for her rotten mom in Ben Affleck’s mystery drama Gone Baby Gone.

Among the more predictable winners were Julie Christie as Best Actress – Drama for her performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in Sarah Polley’s Canadian production Away from Her; Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor – Drama for his star turn as a greedy oil baron in There Will Be Blood; and Johnny Depp as Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for his singing, serial-killing barber in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Sort of a surprise: this year, Johnny Depp was the only U.S.-born actor to win a Globe in the feature film categories. Besides the French Marion Cotillard, the Australian Cate Blanchett, and the British Julie Christie and Daniel Day-Lewis, the other non-American winner was Spaniard Javier Bardem, named Best Supporting Actor for his peculiarly coiffed hitman in No Country for Old Men – in the words of Golden Globe Awards newscast co-presenter Billy Bush (of Access Hollywood), one of the greatest screen villains ever, “in a category with Darth Vader.”

Julie Christie Away from Her Gordon Pinsent: Golden Globe Awards veteran 1st-timersJulie Christie in Away from Her with Gordon Pinsent. In movies since Ken Annakin’s 1962 crime comedy Crooks Anonymous, Julie Christie is both a veteran and a first-timer at the Golden Globe Awards: she has been nominated three times – the first time around more than four decades ago, for John Schlesinger’s Darling (1965) – but only this year has she been named the winner of a Globe statuette: for Sarah Polley’s Canadian drama Away from Her, in which Christie plays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Mostly bypassed this awards season (except in Canada), Gordon Pinsent plays her husband.

The Golden Globe Awards’ veteran first-timers

Julie Christie’s win was her first at the Golden Globe Awards. In movies for more than four decades, Christie had been nominated twice before:

  • John Schlesinger’s drama Darling (1965; she won the Best Actress Oscar, but lost the Globe to Samantha Eggar for William Wyler’s The Collector).
  • Hal Ashby’s comedy Shampoo (1975).

Daniel Day-Lewis’ win was also his first. He had four previous Golden Globe nominations, all in the Best Actor – Drama category:

  • Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot (1989; he won the Best Actor Oscar, but lost the Globe to Tom Cruise for Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July).
  • Jim Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father (1993).
  • Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer (1997).
  • Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).

Johnny Depp is the third veteran who won his first Golden Globe this year, after being an also-ran seven times – all but one (Finding Neverland) in the Best Actor – Musical or Comedy category:

More winners

The remaining winners in the 2008 Golden Globe Awards’ big-screen categories were Best Animated Film Ratatouille, the Brad Bird-directed story of a French rat with gourmet inclinations, and Best Original Song “Guaranteed,” the Eddie Vedder composition heard in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild.

Of note, the Globes’ TV categories were dominated by film personalities. Examples include:

  • Five-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close (e.g., as Best Actress for Fatal Attraction, 1987, and Dangerous Liaisons, 1988), named Best Actress in a Television Series Drama for Damages.
  • Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (as Best Supporting Actress for Sweet and Lowdown, 1999; as Best Actress for In America, 2003), named Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie for Tom Hooper’s British TV movie Longford.
  • Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris, 2001), named Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie for Longford.
  • Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago, 2002), named Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie for Nelson George’s Life Support.

Lastly, Steven Spielberg will be handed his Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2009.

Who cares about the Golden Globe Awards?

But really, who cares about the Golden Globe Awards?

Now, that’s a stupid question.

Ask people who’ve ever won or been nominated for one. Ask film studios and distributors, who plaster their “For Your Consideration” Oscar ads with “nominated for XYZ Golden Globes” notices. Ask film exhibitors, who see a box office bump – whether big or small – following the awards announcements. And ask Academy members who have made a point of watching their Atonement, Across the Universe, and The Great Debaters screeners because of these films’ key Golden Globe nominations.

But really, are the Golden Globe Awards a barometer of quality?

Now, that’s another stupid question.

What film award-giving entity is a “barometer of quality”? Critics’ groups? Hollywood guilds? The Academy and its Spanish, French, Mexican, etc., cousins? Any of the myriad juries of the world’s myriad film festivals?

Your chances of watching a quality – whatever you think embodies “quality” – Golden Globe winner are no worse than your chances of watching a quality Oscar or Palme d’Or or New York Film Critics Circle award winner. Scary, perhaps, but true.

Below is the long, long list of this year’s Golden Globe Awards’ winners and nominees.

Check out: “What Are the BAFTA Awards? Hollywood-on-the-Thames + David A. Grafton Academy Honor,” and “Oscar Ballot Explained + Academy Award Predictions Include Amy Adams & Tom Wilkinson.”

Atonement Keira Knightley James McAvoy: Golden Globe Awards surprises galoreAtonement with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy: Golden Globe Awards’ unexpected Best Picture Drama. Based on Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel, the (mostly) British-made Atonement mixes elements from The Children’s Hour and The Go-Between: a lie affects the lives of a housekeeper’s son (James McAvoy), his wealthy bosses’ daughter (Keira Knightley), and the liar herself: as a teenager played by Saoirse Ronan, who later grows into Romola Garai and, further down the road, Vanessa Redgrave. Mostly bypassed this awards season, Atonement was the surprise Best Picture Drama winner at the Golden Globe Awards’ non-ceremony.

Golden Globe Awards: Winners & nominations

Motion Pictures

Best Picture Drama
American Gangster.
* Atonement.
Eastern Promises.
The Great Debaters.
Michael Clayton.
No Country for Old Men.
There Will Be Blood.

Best Picture Musical or Comedy
Across the Universe.
Charlie Wilson’s War.
* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Best Foreign Language Film
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania).
* The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France / U.S.).
The Kite Runner (U.S.).
Lust Caution (Taiwan).
Persepolis (France).

Best Actress – Drama
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
* Julie Christie – Away from Her.
Jodie FosterThe Brave One.
Angelina JolieA Mighty Heart.
Keira Knightley – Atonement.

Best Actor – Drama
George ClooneyMichael Clayton.
* Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood.
James McAvoy – Atonement.
Viggo MortensenEastern Promises.
Denzel WashingtonAmerican Gangster.

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams – Enchanted.
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray.
Helena Bonham CarterSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
* Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose / La Môme.
Ellen Page – Juno.

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy
* Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl.
Tom HanksCharlie Wilson’s War.
Philip Seymour HoffmanThe Savages.
John C. Reilly – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

Best Supporting Actress
* Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There.
Julia RobertsCharlie Wilson’s War.
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement.
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone.
Tilda SwintonMichael Clayton.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
* Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War.
John TravoltaHairspray.
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton.

Best Director
Tim Burton – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men.
* Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Ridley ScottAmerican Gangster.
Joe Wright – Atonement.

Best Screenplay
Atonement, Christopher Hampton.
Charlie Wilson’s War, Aaron Sorkin.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood.
Juno, Diablo Cody.
* No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen.

Best Original Score
Grace Is Gone, Clint Eastwood.
The Kite Runner, Alberto Iglesias.
* Atonement, Dario Marianelli.
Eastern Promises, Howard Shore.
Into the Wild, Eddie Vedder, Michael Vedder & Kaki Vedder.

Best Original Song
“Despedida”– Love in the Time of Cholera, Music: Shakira & Antonio Pinto, Lyrics: Shakira.
“Grace Is Gone”– Grace Is Gone, Music: Clint Eastwood, Lyrics: Carole Bayer Sager.
* “Guaranteed”– Into the Wild, Music & Lyrics: Eddie Vedder.
“That’s How You Know”– Enchanted, Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz.
“Walk Hard”– Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Music & Lyrics: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan, John C. Reilly & Marshall Crenshaw.

Best Animated Feature
Bee Movie.
* Ratatouille.
The Simpsons Movie.


Best Mini-Series or TV Movie
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
The Company.
Five Days.
* Longford.
The State Within.

Best Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie
Bryce Dallas HowardAs You Like It.
* Queen Latifah – Life Support.
Debra Messing – The Starter Wife.
Sissy SpacekPictures of Hollis Woods.
Ruth Wilson – Jane Eyre.

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie
Adam Beach – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
Ernest BorgnineA Grandpa for Christmas.
* Jim Broadbent – Longford.
Jason Isaacs – The State Within.
James Nesbitt – Jekyll.

Best Television Series Drama
Big Love.
Grey’s Anatomy.
* Mad Men.
The Tudors.

Best Television Series Musical or Comedy
30 Rock.
* Extras.
Pushing Daisies.

Best Actress in a Television Series Drama
Patricia Arquette – Medium.
* Glenn Close – Damages.
Minnie Driver – The Riches
Edie Falco – The Sopranos.
Sally FieldBrothers & Sisters.
Holly HunterSaving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer.

Best Actor in a Television Series Drama
Michael C. Hall – Dexter.
* Jon Hamm – Mad Men.
Hugh Laurie – House.
Bill Paxton – Big Love.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers – The Tudors.

Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy
Christina Applegate – Samantha Who?.
America Ferrera – Ugly Betty.
* Tina Fey30 Rock.
Anna Friel – Pushing Daisies.
Mary-Louise Parker – Weeds.

Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin30 Rock.
Steve CarellThe Office.
* David Duchovny – Californication.
Ricky Gervais – Extras.
Lee Pace – Pushing Daisies.

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie
Rose ByrneDamages.
Rachel Griffiths – Brothers & Sisters.
Katherine HeiglGrey’s Anatomy.
* Samantha Morton – Longford.
Anna PaquinBury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
Jaime Pressly – My Name Is Earl.

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie
Ted Danson – Damages.
Kevin Dillon – Entourage.
* Jeremy Piven – Entourage.
Andy SerkisLongford.
William Shatner – Boston Legal.
Donald SutherlandDirty Sexy Money.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards website.

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy Atonement image: Working Title Films.

Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie in Away from Her image: Lionsgate Films.

Image of Marie-Josée Croze in the Golden Globe Awards’ surprise Best Director winner The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Pathé / Miramax Films.

“Golden Globe Awards: Non-English-Language Non-Ceremony Surprises” last updated in September 2018.

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