By Anthony Breznican
Updated December 19, 2019 at 11:50 PM EST
Golden Globes Analysis

It was a good day to be lesser-known. If Barkhad Abdi, June Squibb, and Lupita Nyong’o can win nominations from the celebrity-obsessed Golden Globes, then their path to the Academy Awards ceremony is a near certainty. On the other hand, today’s list of contenders was not so kind to one of the most famous women on the planet.

Sorry, Oprah. You’ve been snubbed. The Globes also had two opportunities to get George Clooney at the ceremony — and declined both chances.

Clooney could have been nominated as a supporting actor for Gravity, and was also a producer of August: Osage County, which failed to land a best comedy/musical slot. Winfrey was considered a virtual lock for her boozy housewife role in The Butler.

Their omissions are a surprise only because the Globes like to “cast” their carpet by honoring the most well-known people possible. That didn’t happen as egregiously this year. There are still stars, of course, those performers you know even by their first names alone: Meryl, Sandra, Julia.

One thing to remember: There is literally zero crossover between the approximately 90 Golden Globe voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press and the more than 6,000 filmmaking professionals who cast Oscar ballots as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Still, awards season is a game of being seen — and the Golden Globes draw a massive TV audience. A good showing there can help, if only in terms of perception.

Here’s a look at some of the top categories and who’s up and who’s down — including a scorecard for how well (or poorly) EW’s Prize Fighter fared in predicting the Globe nominations:

• Best Picture – Drama

• Best Picture – Comedy/Musical

• Actor – Drama

• Actress – Drama

• Actor – Comedy/Musical

• Actress – Comedy/Musical

• Supporting Actor

• Supporting Actress

• Director


For more Oscar news:

Best Picture – Drama


12 Years a Slave

Captain Phillips




CERTAINTIES: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. They are the two reigning frontrunners for Best Picture this year and an omission of either would’ve necessitated pitchforks and torches at the Globes ceremony. Captain Phillips is also a favored contender, but as more films have entered the race it has faded a bit. This is a healthy reminder that it’s still in play.

SURPRISES: Rush. The Formula 1 drama did only so-so business at the box office, but the Hollywood Foreign Press adored this movie when it played at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. One member told me at the time that if voting were held then, it would win. A shrug from moviegoers and critics wasn’t enough to dissuade them. The nod for Philomena, the bittersweet story of an Irish woman looking for the son she reluctantly gave up for adoption as a boy, isn’t a surprise to anyone who has seen the Judi Dench film. It’s a crowdpleaser that is building momentum through word-of-mouth, and this is another strong recommendation.

SNUBS: Saving Mr. Banks. The story of Walt Disney’s battles with Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers was probably too lighthearted for the drama category, and might have had a stronger showing if placed in the comedy/musical field. It’s still favored for an Oscar nomination, but this was a missed opportunity.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 4 out of 5. I called Rush! So high-five on that one. But I also called Saving Mr. Banks instead of Captain Phillips. Do I get half a point for guessing a Hanks movie? … No? Okay.


For more Oscar news:


American Hustle


Inside Llewyn Davis


The Wolf of Wall Street

CERTAINTIES: Nebraska has proven repeatedly that it’s a strong contender in the Best Picture race, and this assures things for the intimate, black-and-white film about a Mid-Western old-timer on a quest for the million dollars he thinks he has won. Latecomers to the race American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street also needed this to establish bona fides.

SURPRISES:There has been a lot of doubt expressed about Her, but those who see it tend to love it. After faring well in a round of smaller awards last week, this nomination is just the latest proof that the sci-fi love story has what it takes.

SNUBS: It won a Pulitzer and a Tony, but August: Osage County hasn’t done so well in the movie-awards department. Its omission is especially surprising because distributor Harvey Weinstein has such strong sway with the HFPA.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 4 out of 5. I thought August: Osage County would get in, but am happy to be wrong if it means the inclusion of Her, a film I thought the Globes would ignore — especially after such a fuss was made about the group disqualifying Scarlett Johansson’s voice performance.


For more Oscar news:


Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

CERTAINTIES: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey look unstoppable. Both are in movies that some Academy members have expressed reservations about, since they’re about grim subjects. But the power of these films is overcoming that reluctance, and while I always suspected Ejiofor would be a top contender, I no longer have any doubts about McConaughey making it to the big show. Hanks seems pretty solid, too.

SURPRISES: Idris Elba did impressive work as the iconic man who helped lead South Africa out of Apartheid. It’s about an unquestionably great man, but critics haven’t considered it a great movie. Elba’s performance has earned praise, but this is the first major award to recognize that.

SNUBS: Forest Whitaker for The Butler. There were no major awards for this movie, which is a sure-sign the HFPA didn’t like it very much, even if its blockbuster box office returns suggest moviegoers did. One day after re-entering the race with a Screen Actors Guild nomination, Whitaker falls back a little with this omission. Also left out: Michael B. Jordan’s intense, doomed young man from Fruitvale Station.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 5 for 5. The tricky one was that fifth slot — Idris or Forest? That was close.


For more Oscar news:


Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Kate Winslet, Labor Day

CERTAINTIES: The first four a regarded as the safest Oscar bets: Blanchett (favored to win), Bullock, Dench, and Thompson. This simply reinforces that conventional wisdom.

SURPRISES: Kate Winslet as a mentally fragile mother who shelters an escaped prisoner over one tense, long-weekend in Labor Day. The movie hasn’t had a strong push for awards consideration, and Winslet — who just gave birth — hasn’t been present on the campaign trail. This might vault her, and the film, back into consideration for those voters who haven’t caught it yet.

SNUBS: Adele Exarchopoulos of Blue is the Warmest Color and Brie Larson of Short Term 12 — both acclaimed in smaller, more intimate dramas that could’ve used the love.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 5 out of 5. The first four were easy. I was hoping Winslet’s moving work would grab them, and it did.


For more Oscar news:


Christian Bale, American Hustle

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

Joaquin Phoenix, Her

CERTAINTIES: Bruce Dern. He’s the only one out of this group you can lay money on. He’ll be in the Oscar race for his career comeback performance as a wispy-haired old codger who goes on a road trip into his far-off past.

SURPRISES: I wouldn’t call any of the others “shocks,” since the expanded comedy field makes room for a lot of other contenders. Bale and DiCaprio are trying to edge into the season’s most competitive race, so they absolutely had to rank here. Isaac and Phoenix are longshots for the Oscar, but worthy of whatever consideration this gives them.

SNUBS: The Globes could have reached for Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty if they just wanted to populate their ballroom with famous funnymen. Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight could also have been a possibility. Both were extreme longshots, though.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 5 for 5. But this was an easy one.


For more Oscar news:


Amy Adams, American Hustle

Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

CERTAINTIES: Meryl. It was a big, loud, monstrous performance and it’s hard to ignore as an Oscar sure-thing, even if it’s not her most subtle work. Amy Adams’ work as a super-sexed ’70s grifter probably benefited the most from the attention of this nod. Julia Louis-Dreyfus would be a good bet for Enough Said, if only comedies got more Oscar respect.

SURPRISES: Another Globe category where there weren’t any outrageous grabs at celebrity. There was a chance of seeing Melissa McCarthy or Sandra Bullock here for The Heat, but they went with the smaller Frances Ha and Greta Gerwig instead.

SNUBS: None. This was a hard category to fill out because there haven’t been many strong comedy/musical lead actress performances this year. The Globes pretty well covered it.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 4 out of 5. What’s with the sudden integrity, Globes? I was sure McCarthy would get in as a way to put a popular comedienne in the room.


For more Oscar news:


Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Daniel Bruhl, Rush

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

CERTAINTIES: Leto. His transgender prostitute in the defiant Dallas Buyers Club is expected to win. For a nomination, no one should doubt Abdi, a total newcomer who has more than earned his slot. Fassbender is another likely contender for his savage, seemingly mentally unhinged slave owner.

SURPRISES: Bradley Cooper’s perm-wearing FBI agent hasn’t gotten much recognition yet, but this is a good first step, albeit a late one.

SNUBS: No Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks. Take that, Walt Disney. After yesterday’s SAG omission, his chance at a dual nomination this year is starting to look weak. Also no mention of James Gandolfini’s endearing slob from Enough Said. Here’s one case where the HFPA’s more self-serving instincts may have taken over. When asked in September if Gandolfini had a shot, one member told me: “Well … he can’t come to the show.”

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: Oomph. Not good. 2 for 5. I admire Abdi, but thought the Globes predisposition for celebrity would count him out. I should have guessed Cooper and Fassbender, though. Instead, I had Hanks for Banks, John Goodman for Inside Llewyn Davis, and — the extreme wild card — Colin Farrell for Saving Mr. Banks. Why? The HFPA has a thing for him, and even gave him the trophy one year for In Bruges. Thought I’d stick my neck out, anticipating the Globes to throw in a twist. They didn’t.


For more Oscar news:


Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

CERTAINTIES: Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. The only shock would be if their names didn’t end up on the Oscar shortlist. Julia Roberts is a possibility, but could easily fall out. Few films this year are as divisive as August: Osage County.

SURPRISES Not a total left-wing choice, but a solid showing by Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine. She is an outside contender for an Oscar nod and this is a definite boost.

SNUBS: Oprah, Oprah, Oprah, OPRAH. Her heli-fortress is currently hovering into position over HFPA headquarters … YOU get a missile, and YOU get a missile, and YOU get a missile!!

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: Shmeh. 3 out of 5. I had Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station and, of course, Oprah instead of Hawkins and Squibb. This is great for the 84-year-old Squibb, but once again I thought the HFPA would go for star power over merit. So that’s a silver lining to being wrong.


For more Oscar news:


Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

CERTAINTIES: McQueen and Cuaron — the Oscar race is really between them, at least so far.

SURPRISES: Paul Greengrass had shifted into the background in the director race, especially given the eagerness of voters to see The Wolf of Wall Street from Martin Scorsese and the the growing momentum behind Spike Jonze for Her. This is a sign that his tense thriller made a deep impression with at least one group of voters.

SNUBS: No Jonze, and no Marty. The director’s branch of the Academy is a very different group from the Globes, and much more interested in experimentation and innovation. I’d expect at least two of the names on this list to be different come Oscar nominations morning.

PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 3 for 5. I had Cuaron and McQueen, but those were gimmes. Payne was a longer call, but the HFPA has a long history of adoration for him. I’m surprised they chose Russell over Scorsese, once again simply because Scorsese is the more famous of the two. And I thought the Globe voters would continue their love affair with the Coen brothers for Inside Llewyn Davis, but instead they went for Greengrass. In this category, I missed where it counted — on the tricky ones.