With “Awards Season” in full swing, we come to my favorite awards show to watch – The Golden Globes [the Globes’ new look featured, above]. Where else can you see an award winner rush from the little girls’ room to the stage, trailing a piece of toilet paper from her shoe [Christine Lahti, you are immortal because of this], or another award winner insist upon giving his award to the actor who inspired him to become an actor [the only award Jack Lemmon ever got that was voted for by a panel of one – and who knows how many other actors he inspired…?]. Thank you speeches that come from the heart or, on occasion, from a few too many drinks… The Golden Globes are fun because you get more moments from real people than all the other awards shows combined [excepting, possibly, The Spirit Awards]. Plus, the Globes honor movies and television – so there are twice as many opportunities for entertainment. So, here, after the jump, here are the nominees and my choices.
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Benjamin Button is ambitious and makes more than a few philosophical points as it entertains; Frost/Nixon is an absorbing recreation of one of finest games of cat and mouse ever filmed; The Reader deals with the Holocaust writ tiny – and the humiliation of being illiterate; Revolutionary Road is about having dreams crushed by misunderstanding the concept of responsibility, and Slumdog Millionaire is a film that takes the rags-to-riches story and changes the motivation behind it.
Of the five, Slumdog Millionaire is, despite its never hiding the poverty of Mumbai, a joyful film that uplifts its audience – even in repeated screenings. And the Bollywood closing credits are irresistible.
BEST COMEDY-MUSICAL PICTURE
“Burn After Reading”
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Burn After Reading is the Coen Brothers in top form; Happy-Go-Lucky reminds us that a positive attitude goes a long way to making life bearable in the best and meanest of circumstances; In Bruges is literate, witty film that making the business of dealing in death hilarious – in a darkly disturbing sort of way; Mamma Mia! Turns the songs of Abba into a frothy romantic comedy of sorts, and Vicky Christina Barcelona is woody Allen’s best work in a decade.
For me, this category is a toss-up. If any of Burn After Reading, In Bruges, or Vicky Christina Barcelona win, I’ll be happy. If Bruges should pull the stunning upset, I’d be ecstatic.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE PICTURE
“The Baader Meinhof Complex”
“I’ve Loved You So Long”
“Waltz With Bashir”
Frankly, when one pays for 75% of the movies one reviews, personal interest in specific genres can color one’s choice in foreign films seen. The trailers for most of these films didn’t provoke any curiosity in me and a couple others haven’t played here, yet, so I have no really choice here.
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire” Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Sam Mendes, “Revolutionary Road”
I’ll be happy if either Danny Bole or David Fincher wins – though, under pressure, I’d admit to a slight [very slight] preference for Boyle, simply because Slumdog Millionaire is – as remarked above – such a joyful piece of work.
If Mickey Rourke doesn’t win here, the fix is in. Rourke makes his “broken down piece of meat” one of the most sympathetic and charismatic characters in film history.
BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kristin Scott Thomas, “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”
Ditto Anne Hathaway, vis-à-vis winning versus the fix. Given the difference between everything she’s done before, and her work in Rachel Getting Married, it’s like we saw a brand new actor – and, unlike Streep, you never catch Hathaway “acting.”
BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTOR
Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Colin Farrell, “In Bruges”
James Franco, “Pineapple Express”
Brendan Gleeson, “In Bruges”
Dustin Hoffman, “Last Chance Harvey”
Colin Farrell’s loud, profane and, curiously, vulnerable hit man in hiding may be the best role he’s ever had. It’s certainly the best performance of these five.
BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTRESS
Rebecca Hall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Luck”
Frances McDormand, “Burn After Reading”
Meryl Streep, “Mamma Mia!”
Emma Thompson, “Last Chance Harvey”
Frances McDormand makes every character she plays utterly real – even the dim cosmetic surgery addict/gym employee she plays in Burn After Reading.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Ralph Fiennes, “The Duchess”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
None of the other four performances here, brilliant though they all may be, can touch Heath Ledger’s uncanny performance as The Joker. In a superhero film that was so good that it was used as both pro and con commentary on the Bush Administration, Ledger’s Joker was the force of nature the character should be… Chaos personified. No one else came close to the profundity of this one performance.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Amy Adams made Doubt work. While Meryl “I’m ACTING here!” Streep was grinding through yet another awards-bait character, Adams simply was Sister James.
“Kung Fu Panda”
From my point-of-view, it’s criminal that Wall-E wasn’t nominated for Best Film, Comedy/Musical. It’s an infinitely better film than, say, Mamma Mia! Although Kung fu Panda and Bolt are extremely good movies, Wall-E laps them both in terms of overall technical quality and in terms of story.
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
David Hare, “The Reader”
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”
Eric Roth, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt”
Slumdog Millionaire’s Simon Beaufoy in a walk. Say it with me, joyful experience.
Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Clint Eastwood, “Changeling”
James Newton Howard, “Defiance”
Hans Zimmer, “Frost/Nixon”
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Slumdog Millionaire’s A.R Rahman. See above.
“Down to Earth” (performed by Peter Gabriel, written by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman), “Wall-E”
“Gran Torino” (performed by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens, lyrics by: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens), “Gran Torino”
“I Thought I Lost You” (performed by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, written by Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele), “Bolt”
“Once in a Lifetime” (performed by Beyoncé, written by Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarnon, Ian Dench, James Dring, Jody Street), “Cadillac Records”
“The Wrestler” (performed by Bruce Springsteen, written by Bruce Springsteen), “The Wrestler”
The Wrestler, by Bruce Springsteen. Not many songs perfectly encapsulate a film the way this one does.
DRAMATIC TV SERIES
Best slate of TV Drama nominations. Ever. Not a dud in the bunch. Mad Men should win [and is my first choice], but Dexter would be cool with me, too.
BEST ACTOR, TV DRAMA
Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Hugh Laurie, “House M.D.”
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”
Jonathan Rhys Meyers doesn’t belong on this list – at least not for the overblown pomposity that is The Tudors. Other than him, though, it comes down to multiple flippings of coins. I expect Jon Hamm to win, but any of the other three are equally as deserving [and that does not happen often].
BEST ACTRESS, TV DRAMA
Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
January Jones, “Mad Men”
Anna Paquin, “True Blood”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”
Normally, I’d go along with Kyra Sedgwick here, but Anna Paquin is simply amazing as the lead in a series that turns on a dime between drama, horror and camp – frequently within the context of a scene, or even a line – and Paquin is always right there, on the money, every time.
TV SERIES, MUSICAL OR COMEDY
30 Rock. Nothing else is even close.
BEST ACTOR, TV MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Kevin Connolly, “Entourage”
David Duchovny, “Californication”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”
Alec Baldwin. Period.
BEST ACTRESS, TV MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?”
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Debra Messing, “The Starter Wife”
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds”
Tina Fey. Also period.
BEST MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
“Bernard & Doris”
“A Raisin in the Sun”
None of these really turned my crank, but I always enjoy Paul Giamatti, so John Adams it is.
BEST ACTOR IN A TV MINI OR MOVIE
Ralph Fiennes, “Bernard and Doris”
Paul Giamatti, “John Adams”
Kevin Spacey, “Recount”
Kiefer Sutherland, “24: Redemption”
Tom Wilkinson, “Recount”
Paul Giamatti – I always go with Paul Giamatti.
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV MINI OR MOVIE
Judi Dench, “Cranford”
Laura Linney, “John Adams”
Catherine Keener, “An American Crime”
Shirley MacLaine, “Coco Chanel”
Susan Sarandon, “Bernard & Doris”
Laura Linney can do just about anything she sets her mind to. She does it again, here.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TV MINI OR MOVIE
Eileen Atkins, “Cranford”
Laura Dern, “Recount”
Melissa George, “In Treatment”
Rachel Griffiths, “Brothers & Sisters”
Dianne Wiest, “In Treatment”
Dianne Wiest’s no-nonsense mentor/therapist to Gabriel Byrne’s messed up shrink is the most interesting of these five characters on a consistent basis – and Wiest makes it look easy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN TV MINI OR MOVIE
Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother”
Denis Leary, “Recount”
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”
Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”
Tom Wilkinson, “John Adams”
Neil Patrick Harris. Maybe I’m still in Dr. Horrible aftershock, but sometimes sublimely silly is better than intense drama. Harris’ Barney is that rarest of all television characters, the shtick guy who actually grows as a character, all the while maintaining the shtick. If dying is easy and comedy is hard, NPH should walk away with this one.