EW’s critics on the hits, misses, and burning questions of the Golden Globes film nominees
The nominees are in — and wooh, does the internet have opinions. In addition to their EW colleague Devan Coggan’s comprehensive snubs and surprises gallery, film critics Chris Nashawaty and Leah Greenblatt have their own takes on the strange anomalies, mysterious loyalties, and sudden surge of vice presidents and bohemian rhapsodies in the HFPA’s big-screen choices for 2018.
LEAH GREENBLATT: Okay Chris, the Globe nominations are always a little bit…is eccentric the best word, maybe? But let’s unpack this morning’s particular piñata of crazy.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has told us what it thinks of 2018, and it is, approximately: Black Panther is a drama (why not, if Get Out last year was a comedy); Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born are not musicals (just, you know, completely, exhaustively about music); Claire Foy and the original score were the only things worth celebrating from First Man; and multiple nominees The Favourite and Black Panther apparently supervised themselves, since neither (excellent) director was nominated.
In response to my own personal outrage face this morning when I saw the list though, I feel like I should point out that Roma wasn’t actually snubbed for any kind of Best Picture — as our colleague Joey Nolfi helpfully explained, foreign-language films aren’t actually eligible under Globe rules. But before we get into some of the more granular stuff, what was your overall impression when you saw this list?
CHRIS NASHAWATY: Leah, I think you’ll agree that in the years since we both began working at EW (were we ever that young?), reacting to the Globe nominations has become more and more of a cottage industry with people bending over backwards to explain how they mean everything, followed by arguing how they mean nothing.
Remember just a few months ago when the Oscars flirted with the idea of introducing a Best Popular Film category? Well, I think we all realized that there was no need for it because that’s, in a way, what the Golden Globes have always been — an annual, booze-fueled celebration for the glittery popular kids. At least, I bet that’s what Ethan Hawke and the First Reformed posse are telling themselves this morning.
I think the main preoccupation for people who track these nominations every year — which speaks to what you’re getting at — is wrestling to make sense of what exactly these categories mean and how they’re defined by this very idiosyncratic group of foreign press folks. Especially what is and what isn’t a comedy.
I couldn’t agree more strongly that both Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born belong in the music/comedy category rather than Best Motion Picture Drama. And please remind me how Green Book is a comedy or a musical when those aren’t? As for Vice, the most recognized of all movies and a film I thought was pretty damn glib, I actually think it would have been a better film if it was less of a comedy. But what are you gonna do?
I’m confused by how First Man, which would seem like catnip for the Globes voters, didn’t get a Best Director or Best Actor nod. And yet I’m heartened by the fact that three of the Best Picture Drama finalists were directed by African-Americans. I wonder if that will carry over to the Oscars; I suspect not.
Eighth Grade’s Elsie Fisher — yay! No Cold War or The Guilty in the foreign film slot (boo!). Remembering Charlize Theron for Tully, a movie that came out an eternity ago (yay!). No Yorgos Lanthimos for both of our favorite film of the year, The Favourite (boo x 1000!). No Sissy Spacek for The Old Man & the Gun (boo!). Richard E. Grant (big yay! That dude lit up the screen every time he was in the frame in Can You Ever Forgive Me?).
Was I insane to hope that Tom Cruise might get a nomination for headlining what was an absolutely perfect summer movie? If anyone was going to make that call correctly, it’s the populist and celeb-friendly Globes. And tell me, do you really think at the end of the day that this morning’s nominations are in any way significant as tea-leaf omens for the Oscars?
LEAH: I feel like Tom Cruise should have some sort of honorary Thalberg Award that’s just his; Special Achievements in Cruise-iosity? He builds those Mission movies from the ground up, essentially, sometimes without even a script. And he’s committed to a sort of old-fashioned but still technically dazzling form of mass-market filmmaking that hardly anyone seems to know how to do anymore — at least not without just clanking a bunch of franchise metal and spandex together.
I’m one of those people who thought First Reformed was a little overpraised, but I still would have loved to see Ethan Hawke in an acting category here. Because between First and Juliet Naked (and Blaze, too, really, which he was the driving force behind), I really enjoyed his choices this year and the risks that he took.
Listen, maybe they thought Damien Chazelle’s boy-wonderdom was just too awarded over the past few seasons, between Whiplash and La La Land? Or for the Foreign Press, First Man was too intrinsically and exclusively an American story, even without that freaking flag issue.
Personally, the film left me awed but emotionally cool, though it feels absurd to me that Foy would be recognized for making the best of an underwritten role while Gosling would be left entirely in the lunar dirt. He’s one that like Amy Adams I just have to figure will one day get the statuettes they deserve — quite possibly for the least of their achievements but because, by the inexplicable rules of Hollywood, it’s finally been deemed their time.
Speaking of Amy, that inevitably leads us to the Dick Cheney biopic Vice, which I think I enjoyed more than you did (and how obnoxious to talk about this at all, when literally no one but critics have been allowed to see it before Christmas day?) but agree has a pretty fundamental problem with glibness. Adams is great it in though, and Christian Bale is fantastic at inhabiting a sort of folksy, butt-padded banality of evil. But it’s so strange to me that Chadwick Boseman would get a nod for Black Panther and not one of the year’s other great villains, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger.
To pivot on this rant, I’m so happy to see Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy both here for Can You Ever Forgive Me; they were far and away my favorite dour duo onscreen. I also agree 1000% with your joy for Eighth Grade’s Elsie and Tully Charlize and every single royal hiss and skirt swish Olivia and Rachel and Emma gave us in The Favourite. (Though why no Nicholas Hoult for Best Supporting??)
And just to make some enemies, Lady Gaga is very good in Star Is Born and she will absolutely win this. But please, please, voting academy, don’t give her the Oscar for it, just because she campaigned the hardest and rode the most gondolas and her narrative dovetails so well with the movie’s. That’s my horse-trading plea, and I predict it has a zero-point-zero chance of succeeding.
Though while I’m being unpopular, I will say that I wouldn’t be mad at Rami Malek taking home his acting prize, and I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was kind of a mess; a mess with a much more sad and strange and nuanced central performance than that script deserved. A Best Director win for Bradley Cooper wouldn’t make me angry either, considering the sheer commitment he put into Star on both sides of the camera.
But yeah, as a predictor for other nods to come? It’s hard for me to imagine that the Oscars’ tipsy, spangly, hey-I’m-just-here-on-a-work-visa cousin will draw a real straight line to what’s ahead. Then again, maybe the glut of “popular” choices like Panther and Star and Bohemian are just the permission the Academy needs. Bring it on, Bumblebee.