This Sunday night in LA, celebrities will gather for the annual Golden Globes ceremony, the first of the big nights of awards season. In keeping with the last couple of years, we’re expecting a politically-charged ceremony that’s as much about the wider world as it is about thanking your agent and your hairdresser. But what’s truly heartening, in a world where women get only 27 per cent of the lines in an average Oscar-winning film, is how many of the frontrunning films are about women and people of colour rather than more straight, white men.
This year’s Globes are significantly more female, and more diverse, than usual. Look at the Best Foreign Language Film nods for A Fantastic Woman, about a trans woman dealing with her boyfriend’s death, and for Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian drama First They Killed My Father. There’s a Best Animated Feature Film nod for The Breadwinner, about a young girl in Afghanistan trying to provide for her family, and the frontrunner in that category is probably Pixar’s Coco, a story rooted deep in Mexican culture. In the TV categories, it’s hard to see anything challenging The Handmaid’s Tale or Big Little Lies, and this year’s lifetime achievement honouree is Oprah Winfrey, so expect an acceptance speech that’s both fiery and inspiring.
Before we get into who’s-gonna-win too much, it’s important to note that these awards don’t really matter as Oscar predictors. They’re voted for by the 80-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group that has almost zero overlap with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences (AMPAS), which awards the Oscars. The celebrities seem to enjoy that fact – the night is considerably boozier and less formal than the BAFTAs or Oscars – but please don’t believe anyone who tells you that winning a Globe is a good indicator of a film’s Oscar chances. Despite doubling the nominees by dividing films into Drama and Comedy/Musical categories, the Globes still get it wrong most of the time. But who cares? The alcohol is copious and the dresses are fabulous.
The fashion will be more subdued this year, however. Women are wearing black as a visible protest against sexual harassment in Hollywood, and some of the male attendees will be joining them. Add the fact that Seth Meyers, who has a keen flair for political comedy, is hosting and this could be even more charged than last year when Meryl Streep spoke out against Trump.
The fact that there is such a wealth of fresh-feeling character and story this year is a good sign, evidence that moving away from endless stories about old white men pays off both critically and commercially
So who’s going to win? Guillermo del Toro’s gorgeous Cold War-era monster-love-story The Shape Of Water landed most nominations, with Sally Hawkins on outrageously good form as the woman who falls in love with an amphibious man. Sadly, science-fiction films rarely win the big prizes and Hawkins is up against insanely strong competition for Best Actress. In fact, all of the Drama categories feel open this year. Steven Spielberg’s timely and impressively feminist The Post – the Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep-starring drama about The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers – would usually be a solid bet, but it’s been largely met with a shrug in LA.
Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – about a woman seeking justice for her daughter’s murder – is in with a shot, though its hype has cooled a little recently. Christopher Nolan’s war drama Dunkirk could nip in and take the Drama category, but the voters might plump instead for Call Me By Your Name’s Armie Hammer/Timothée Chalamet love story. It’s a genuine toss-up. What I can say is that Three Billboards’ Frances McDormand is probably still the Actress to beat, and even though Best Actor features a Daniel Day-Lewis nomination (for Phantom Thread), this seems more likely to be Gary Oldman’s year for his make-up heavy Churchill in Darkest Hour.
At least the Comedy/Musical thread has a clear front-runner. Jordan Peele’s race horror movie Get Out is the most talked-about film of awards season, to the point where it’s beginning to look like a smart bet for Oscar glory as well. There’s been controversy over its designation as a comedy, but it IS very funny amid the creep, and at least this way it has a clear shot to big Globe wins. If Get Out somehow misses out, the next-strongest contender there is probably Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, a thoroughly woman-focused endeavour starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe in a teen family drama that will make you want to call your mum immediately.
The fact that there is such a wealth of fresh-feeling character and story this year is a good sign, evidence that moving away from endless stories about old white men pays off both critically and commercially, but there’s still a way to go. All the nominated directors except Mexican Guillermo del Toro are white men – when Peele and Gerwig were //right there// – and there was no love for Tiffany Haddish’s hilarious turn in Girls Trip or Patty Jenkins’ work on Wonder Woman. Still, with political protests afoot, a host who isn’t afraid to make a statement and a diverse band of nominees, this is the most exciting Golden Globes we’ve seen in a while. There’s hope for Hollywood yet