Golden Globes' star-struck nominations
Following the announcement of the unabashedly star-struck 2007 Golden Globe nominations early yesterday morning, Dec. 12, three entertainment “journalists” debated the choices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as if they meant significantly more than the outcome of good marketing strategies.
In all fairness, the same can be said about nearly every other group, no matter how self-important, that hands out film awards. After all, their selections are usually the result of p.r. and marketing game plans, past or expected box office revenues, personal and/or professional politics, and, admittedly, the veneer of quality – whether organically or artificially applied.
That said, those types of biases – who, when, where is giving out awards to which films and individuals – are exactly what make those myriad movie awards worth reporting.
When checking out the lists of winners and nominees, one doesn't necessarily find the greatest movies or performances or screenplays (even if taste were something unquestionably objective), but one does learn about the machinery that, much more often than not, makes film academy and guild members, festival jurors, and journalists and pseudo-journalists opt for those they believe should get – as opposed to deserve to get – their vote.
Generally speaking, that translates into films and personalities that, for a variety of reasons, will catch the attention of media outlets – and their consumers – everywhere. Else, why bother voting?
So, what/who is globe-trotting hot – while boasting, at the very least, a veneer of quality to justify the invitation to the party?
Update: Full list of 2007 Golden Globe winners and nominees.
Scintillating & shining stars
For starters, Brad Pitt is such a scintillating star that one shouldn't be surprised if he alone was responsible for the seven Golden Globe nominations – more than any other motion picture – given to Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel. Needless to say, Pitt himself received a star-struck nod in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Leonardo DiCaprio is such a shining star that he received no less than two Best Actor Drama nods, for The Departed and Blood Diamond. Even if the latter turns out to be an underperformer, it'll still make about 10 times more money at the domestic box office than Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson, in which Ryan Gosling (who lacks a Titanical following) delivers the sort of performance that, had his movie earned $50 million instead of $2 million, would have made him the front runner both with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and U.S.-based critics' groups.
No one should be surprised by the fact that Gosling did not get a Golden Globe nomination.
Admittedly, Best Actor Drama nominee Forest Whitaker's film, Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland, also underperformed at the domestic box office. However, Whitaker has had phenomenal buzz, partly because of his performance as a historical figure – former Uganda leader Idi Amin Dada – partly because of Fox Searchlight's well-oiled p.r. machine. The Forest Whitaker for Best Actor buzz, in fact, long preceded the U.S. opening of The Last King of Scotland.
Brilliant & veteran stars
Here's another star-struck pick: Mel Gibson, who happens to be both a brilliant star and a controversial one.
Does the combination of Gibson's celebrity and reputation sound like a great way to get lots of media attention and arouse the curiosity of TV viewers?
Well, Mel Gibson's Maya-language Apocalypto was nominated in the Golden Globes' Best Foreign Language Film category.
Like Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson is a veteran star – one who does unexpected things when he is named the winner of an award.
Star-struck Golden Globes have little room for the lesser-known
Once the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has its TV-audience-luring star-power guaranteed, they can toss out a few Golden Globe nominations to lesser-known individuals, especially in less competitive categories.
Thus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays a determined transvestite in Julian Jarrold's British-made Kinky Boots, is competing in the Best Actor Comedy or Musical category, while Babel performers Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi have been included in the Best Supporting Actress shortlist. It should be noted that Paramount Vantage has been relentlessly pushing Kikuchi.
Surprising Golden Globe omission
Now, what was the star-struck Golden Globes' biggest surprise?
The answer: It was not a nomination.
Either Stone has done something really mean to the Golden Globe voters, or they figured that giving the (all-star) box office flop Bobby a Best Motion Picture Drama nod was enough of a favor to the actress.
Star-struck Critics' Choice Awards: Mel Gibson & Clint Eastwood movies up for Best Foreign Language Film
There were quite a few surprises among the nominees for the Broadcast Film Critics Association's 2007 Critics' Choice Awards. As long as you ignore their penchant for star-struck selections.
Todd Field's psychological sex drama Little Children, starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, and Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language World War II drama Letters from Iwo Jima, toplining Ken Watanabe, were both nominated in the Best Film category. Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, however, was not.
Of note, Letters from Iwo Jima also showed up in the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist – the double nomination was a first at the Critics' Choice Awards. One of its competitors is Mel Gibson's Hollywood-backed, Golden Globe-nominated, Maya-language Apocalypto, which has been both panned and praised (sometimes in the same review).
Ben Affleck gets some awards season love
As in the Golden Globes, Leonardo DiCaprio received two Best Actor nods (another first), for Blood Diamond and The Departed, while Ben Affleck was included in the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Superman actor George Reeves in Allen Coulter's little-seen Hollywoodland.
This has been one of Affleck's rare U.S.-based nods since his surprising 2006 Venice Film Festival win several months ago.
And finally, an American film critics' group has given recognition to Jack Nicholson's caricature in The Departed as one of the finest bits of acting of the year. Like Ben Affleck, Nicholson is up for the Best Supporting Actor Critics' Choice Award. (Remember, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association members are neither American nationals nor “film critics.”)
No Best Tragic Movie
The Broadcast Film Critics Association has a whole array of unique awards, including “Best Comedy Movie” (but sadly no “Best Tragic Movie”) and “Best Family Film (Live Action).” One can safely assume that no dysfunctional film families are allowed in that category, though the much-despised – but highly popular – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is in the running this year.
And why not? After all, these guys aren't Broadcast Film Critics for nothing. They know what will lead to good TV ratings – much like other U.S.-based film critics' groups know that their worth lies in their power to (at least seem to) influence/predict the Academy Awards.
As a result, very few of these groups (e.g., the San Diego Film Critics Society) dare to venture too far off into uncharted Academy waters. In other words, precious few worthy but “esoteric” films and performances – with little to no Oscar chances – have been singled out by most U.S. film critics' groups, especially in recent years.
London Film Critics Awards: More international & more redundant nominations
On the positive side, the London Film Critics tend to be more international – and less star-struck – than their American counterparts.
On the negative side, the London Film Critics' nominations – for all purposes, subdivided into “Best” and “Best British” this or other – tend to get somewhat redundant.
Stephen Frears' The Queen, for instance, was nominated as both Film of the Year and Best British Film, while both Helen Mirren and Judi Dench received double Best Actress nominations as well, for The Queen and Richard Eyre's Notes on a Scandal, respectively.
Strangely, Frears, whose The Queen is listed in no less than seven categories, failed to receive a Best Director nomination. He had to content himself with a Best British Director nod. Another snubbee was veteran Sylvia Syms (The World of Suzie Wong, Victim), The Queen's Queen Mother, who's nowhere to be found in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Richard Griffiths in for 'The History Boys'
Among the London Film Critics' more interesting – for better or for worse – choices are:
- Richard Griffiths in the Best Actor shortlist for his first-rate portrayal of an unconventional and kind-hearted teacher with a yen for male teenagers in The History Boys.
- Best Director nominees Alfonso Cuarón for the dystopian drama Children of Men and Guillermo del Toro for the dark fairy tale/political drama Pan's Labyrinth.
- Four nods for The Prestige, including Best British Director for Christopher Nolan and Best British Actor for Christian Bale. Nolan's (less than the sum of its parts) sci-fi/period drama starring Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Piper Perabo, became a surprising box office hit in the United States, but has been mostly bypassed this awards season.
Delayed & less enthusiastic recognition
Also on the London Film Critics' list are several 2005 American releases. The most curious thing about these nominations is that last year's favorites such as George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck. and Bennett Miller's Capote received only a passing acknowledgment:
- Good Night and Good Luck. lead David Strathairn is in the running for Best Actor.
- Capote garnered two nominations: Best Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Best Screenplay for Dan Futterman.
Without the Oscar hype, these films have clearly lost much of their award-worthiness. Else, they've dated rather rapidly.
And that goes to show that even though the London Film Critics come across as less star-struck than their American counterparts, they're definitely just as Oscar-struck.
The 2007 London Film Critics' Circle winners will be announced on Feb. 8.
Update: List of 2007 London Film Critics' Circle winners and nominations.
Helen Mirren & dark Guillermo del Toro fantasy among New York Film Critics Online winners
The New York Film Critics Online went all out for The Queen, chosen as the Best Film of 2006, in addition to wins for Best Director Stephen Frears, Best Actress Helen Mirren, Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen (who actually has a leading role in the film), and Best Screenplay for Peter Morgan.
Curiously, neither of Clint Eastwood's World War II epics – Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima – managed to make it onto the New York Film Critics Online's Top Ten list. Also strangely absent was Martin Scorsese's Boston mob thriller The Departed.
On the other hand, David Lynch's Inland Empire found its way onto the list, and so did three non-English-language films:
- Deepa Mehta's Water (Canada / India).
- Pedro Almodóvar's Volver (Spain).
- Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (Spain / Mexico), the winner in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Deepa Mehta honored
In fact, the group's most interesting award went to Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who was threatened by Hindu radicals while shooting Water in India, “for taking risks to create films about the difficulties of social change in India especially as it affects women.”
Hollywood Foreign Press Association website.
Brad Pitt Babel image: Paramount Vantage.
Richard Griffiths The History Boys image: Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Image from Mel Gibson's Apocalypto: Icon Productions / Walt Disney Studios.
“Star-Struck Golden Globes & Critics' Choice Awards Nods: From Brad Pitt to Mel Gibson” last updated in January 2019.