Want to hear something funny? These are this year’s Golden Globe nominees for Best Comedy or Musical: American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Some of these you probably haven’t seen yet, but you’d be right to suspect that they aren’t exactly knee-slappers. (Your nostrils will be safe from soda when you eventually watch them.) In fact, they’re dramas and romances, albeit ones that might be slightly more offbeat or idiosyncratic than their Best Drama brethren. “Here’s the good news,” says Anchorman 2 director Adam McKay, “they’re fantastic movies on the list. But we were joking that between all those [Best Comedy nominees], there’s probably, like, nine laughs.”
“I thought This Is the End was a really original, raucous, edgy, great comedy. Why have the category if you’re not going to use it?” he added. “The good news is none of us got into comedy expecting awards, so I don’t really care that much…but we were kind of laughing. They finally give us a category, and now they’ve just pushed us out of it.”
The sad part is that this is nothing new for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. What should be a dynamic aspect of their awards that differentiates them from the dour Oscars has long been paid mere lip service. Though perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much from a category that combines comedies and musicals in the first place. (Why should Les Miz be competing against Moonrise Kingdom, for example?) Instead, the Best Comedy or Musical category has been hijacked by not-necessarily-comedic quirkiness, crying-on-the-inside types of clowns, and movies starring actors who are perhaps known to be funny, though not necessarily in the film being nominated. (Think Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks. You remember… that slam-bang comedy about the congressman who supplied the Afghans with weapons to fight the Soviets.)
This year, there were actually some pretty great comedies to chose from. In addition to This Is the End, there was The Heat, with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock; The Way Way Back, from The Descendents writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash; Joss Whedon’s contemporary Shakespeare adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing; Edgar Wright’s The World’s End; and Richard Curtis’ time-travel romance About Time. McKay’s Ron Burgundy sequel with Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are due this month.
For years, people rightfully have complained that the Oscars totally looked down their noses at comedy, ignoring the work of some of our most beloved stars. At least the Golden Globes pretended to care, and occasionally delivered when legitimately, intentionally funny movies like The Hangover and Mrs. Doubtfire won. But this year’s crop of nominees, though excellent films, demonstrates the Globes’ increasing flagrant disregard for the comedy genre. It might be time for the HFPA to redefine the category or get rid of it altogether.