The Golden Globes are hardly predictive of the Academy Awards. The former are handed out by a handful of overseas journalists, the latter by some 6,000 seasoned film-industry professionals. But we can still draw some Oscar-themed conclusions from what goes down at the Globes, for three reasons: (a) conventional wisdom tends to be shared among both groups of voters; (b) Globes voters, being journalists, want to be seen as accurate predictors of the Oscars, and vote accordingly; and (c) Academy voters are only human, and not immune to the NBC spectacle the rest of us enjoyed last night. (Nomination voting closed on Friday, but voting on the winners has yet to begin.)
With all that in mind, Vanity Fair digital director Mike Hogan and VF.com Hollywood editor Katey Rich have spent the morning grappling with the burningest question of all: What do last night’s developments mean for this Thursday’s Oscar nominations and, beyond that, the awards themselves, which will be handed out at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on March 2?
Is 12 Years a Slave more or less likely to win Best Picture at the Oscars?
Mike: The same, but less than many film writers think. 12 Years a Slave, despite being the most accomplished and important film of the year, has always been a hard sell for Academy voters, who tend to be old, white, and neurotically obsessed with what message their Best Picture selection sends to the rest of the world in terms of America’s reputation. To be clear, I think this is wrongheaded, but I’m telling you what I’ve been led to believe, and that is that the Academy worries that people around the world will hate us more if they wreath 12 Years a Slave, with its unflinching depiction of institutionalized sociopathy, in laurels. They would feel more comfortable rewarding a film like American Hustle or Gravity, so the question is whether they will take the easy way out or decide to do something brave and historic. Time will tell.
Katey: But here’s the flip-side of Academy voter neuroses: they also don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. When a drumbeat is loud enough to say that a film is important, be it Schindler’s List or The Hurt Locker or In the Heat of the Night, they tend to listen. 12 Years A Slave is a tough watch, but the thinkpieces about Oscar’s problems with race and American history might be unbearable for them to read. It’s easy to sit through three hours of sociopathy than to be deemed a coward for the rest of time.
Is the best picture race down to American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave?
Katey: It’s a tempting assumption to make, given that they were the two top winners last night. But the Globes don’t have as strong a track record predicting best picture as you might think—they went with Atonement and Sweeney Todd the year No Country for Old Men won, and Avatar over eventual Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. American Hustle is easily the strongest of the bunch nominated in the musical/comedy category, but that doesn’t necessarily give it an edge over drama contenders like Gravity or even Captain Phillips.
Mike: There’s a love-hate thing going on with American Hustle. I happen to love it; plenty of other people think it’s dumb. When it comes to nominations, having a passionate fan base definitely helps. At the end of the day, though, I think voters will conclude that neither Hustle nor Gravity has the gravitas to overcome 12 Years a Slave. (I don’t see Captain Phillips coming into it at all.)
Is Her a legitimate contender?
Katey: In the Best Original Screenplay category, at least, that seems to be true—that’s a space where oddballs like Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous), Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) find rewards for films a little too out-there for best picture. And with the expanded field of picture nominees, Her may still find space, but last night’s screenplay win suggests its best hope is for Spike Jonze’s writing.
Mike: If you ask me, an Oscar win for Her’s screenplay is the worst thing that could happen to Spike Jonze, since he’d be benefit from partnering with an experienced screenwriter to turn some of those psychobabbling monologues into scenes where characters show us how they feel instead of telling us. But I would like to see the film get noticed for best score, where it was a winner last night (no), as well as costume design, production design, and cinematography.
Will Alfonso Cuaron win Best Director?
Katey: There was a neat “One for you, and one for you” quality to the divide between picture and director at the Globes, allowing a win for Gravity by handing the directing prize to Cuaron and acknowledging 12 Years A Slave with the top prize. Cuaron is easier to like than the prickly 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen, and has been a more significant part of the industry as a whole. (He directed a Harry Potter movie!) Add that to the colossal technical achievement of Gravity and it looks like a best director win along the lines of Ang Lee’s last year—a beloved industry veteran winning a prize for all the blood, sweat, and CGI that went into the biggest hit of his career.
Mike: People have been speculating that the Oscars would split this way, and last night’s outcome shores up the theory. Cuaron is helped by the fact that David O. Russell is a “complicated” guy, too, though he’s come a long way since his days of shrieking at Lily Tomlin. Still a three-man race, but Cuaron feels like a winner to me.
Is Matthew McConaughey now the frontrunner to win Best Actor?
Mike: I think this race is still open. Bruce Dern is popular and has been kissing a lot of babies, as it were, and Robert Redford still has a certain appeal. And don’t count out Leonardo DiCaprio, who won in the Globes’ other acting category. Wolf of Wall Street has been surging lately, and if Paramount and Martin Scorsese continue doing everything right, this could turn into Leo’s year.
Katey: It’s been a tough competition all year for Best Actor—just look at the talent who won’t even be nominated!—and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Let’s celebrate that it’s a true horse race rather than try and call any locks. From where I stand, it’s as wide-open as ever.
What’s up with Robert Redford?
Katey: Not nominated by the Screen Actors Guild, the Globes were Redford’s last chance to take the stage and work his vintage Hollywood charm, proving why we’d want to hand him an acting Oscar after all these years. Instead, Matthew McConaughey won his category. Between that and the surprising SAG omission, should we be wondering if Redford will be nominated at all? After all, All Is Lost is far from a huge hit.
Mike: This is just a brutally crowded category, and only Bruce Dern and Chiwetel Ejiofor seem like absolute locks to score a nomination. After that, you’ve got Redford, McConaughey, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Forest Whitaker scrapping for three spots. Hell, throw Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Isaac, and Christian Bale in there, too, if you’re feeling lucky. I still think Redford makes the cut, but we’ve come a long way from the days when people assumed he was going to win this thing.
Is Jennifer Lawrence really going to win her second Oscar in two years?
Mike: I hope not. Partly because Lupita Nyong’o deserves to win, and partly because I don’t want the J-Law backlash to begin. Not just yet.
Katey: While getting a second Oscar nomination immediately after a win is extremely common—see: Charlize Theron for North Country, Emma Thompson for Remains of the Day—a follow-up win is extremely rare. Katharine Hepburn and Luise Rainer are the only actresses to ever win back-to-back Oscars; at the age of 23, is J-Law really ready to join that company? I think Oscar voters will hold themselves back in time and go with someone less at risk of over-exposure.
Is Amy Adams going to take one of the Best Actress nomination slot we’d been reserving for Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson?
Mike: I think so. People love American Hustle (not everybody, but some people), and the same can’t be said for Saving Mr. Banks or August: Osage County. With Harvey Weinstein in Meryl’s court, I could see Emma losing out in the end.
Katey: The fact that last night is the first time Adams has won a Golden Globe or an Oscar points out how truly underappreciated she’s been, despite everything. The prospect of a Best Actress category consisting entirely of previous winners seemed like a guarantee, but now it just seems wrong to leave Adams out of the party.
Is Cate Blanchett definitely going to win Best Actress?
Mike: Yes—unless the fallout of horrible publicity surrounding Woody Allen’s family life, brought to light again by a series of remarkably honest tweets from Mia and Ronan Farrow, persuades voters that rewarding Blanchett for Blue Jasmine in this of all years is liable to create an unpleasant spectacle.
Katey: Wow, Ronan Farrow with the power to tank an Oscar campaign! I still think it’s basically impossible for Cate to miss out, given what a roll she’s been on, but boy, what a headline that would be. Sandra Bullock, get ready to make a statement about how completely irrelevant these allegations are to Blanchett’s performance, while also preparing your own acceptance speech.
Is Jared Leto definitely going to win Best Supporting Actor?
Katey: This has been a foregone conclusion ever since Leto started snapping up virtually every critic’s prize, as if performances from the likes of Michael Fassbender, Daniel Brühl, and even Jonah Hill had been wiped from the collective memory. Leto was always likely to win at the celeb-loving Globes too, but his presence up on stage only made it feel more like a rightful coronation. Nearly every awards season has a steamroller in one category, and this year it’s Leto.
Mike: Couldn’t agree more. His only concern now should be figuring out how to use his acceptance speech to plug 30 Seconds to Mars’s next tour without coming off like a cheap self-promoter. Thanking Claire Danes would be nice, too.