Golden Globes voters may have temporarily eased the pain of those Oscar snubs for Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper, but the real race is still to come
You can't call what happened at the Golden Globes Awards on Sunday night any real measure of redemption or revenge for Ben Affleck, because the "Argo" director would no doubt trade in his two Globes for a chance to win in those same categories at the Academy Awards in six weeks.
Still, the victories for Affleck and his film were satisfying after a rough few days that began on Thursday morning, when Academy Awards voters denied him what was considered a sure nomination in the Oscar Best Director category. Instead, the AMPAS Directors Branch went with a baffling slate of nominees that also failed to include Tom Hooper of "Les Miserables," whose film took home the top Globe for a comedy or musical film, and Kathryn Bigelow of "Zero Dark Thirty."
Affleck and his film had already been honored at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards on Thursday night, a few hours after his Academy snub. But Sunday's triumph took place on a bigger stage, where qualms about the credibility of the Globes' voters, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, took a temporary backseat as shiny statuettes were bestowed.
"Taking me out of the equation, I love this year because you don't know what's going to happen," Affleck told TheWrap at the Warner Bros./InStyle party after his wins. "I don't like it when you already know who's winning at this point, but this year it could be anybody."
In a night that went with the expected winners in most categories, Affleck and "Argo" got a definite boost, as did Hooper and "Les Miz." The latter film not only won in the Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical category, but took additional acting prizes for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
The result showed that HFPA voters still have a fondness for the musical side of the Best Picture – Comedy or Musical category, something its colleagues in the Academy don't necessarily share. And it was a badly needed win for "Les Miz," which would have been hurt more by a loss than its main competitor, "Silver Linings Playbook."
Of the other acting winners — Daniel Day-Lewis for "Lincoln," Jessica Chastain for "Zero Dark Thirty," Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook" and Christoph Waltz for "Django Unchained" — only Waltz's victory was somewhat surprising.
And while Waltz may have scored a slight upset in beating Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln," the HFPA members have been fans of the actor in the past (he won the same award for "Inglourious Basterds"), and the nominations showed that Quentin Tarantino's film had played well to the group.
Meanwhile, Tarantino's win for screenplay over "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Lincoln" was, as Tarantino said, "a damn surprise" and a sign that the film had played really well to the group.
The result spread the wealth fairly evenly: three for "Les Miz," two for "Argo" and "Django" and one each for "Lincoln," "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Amour," "Skyfall" and "Brave."
Is this good news for "Argo" and "Les Miz" in what appears to be a wide-open Oscar race for Best Picture? It certainly helps in the aftermath of the Academy's bad news, but since 2000, the Globes' drama winner has gone on to win Best Picture only four times in 12 years, the comedy/musical winner twice.
Just by virtue of its Oscar-nom tally, "Lincoln" still has the look of an Oscar frontrunner, but a shaky one. Six weeks, after all, is a long time for voters to change their minds, to rally behind "Argo" and send a message to the Academy's Directors Branch on behalf of Affleck, or to do the same with Bigelow and "Zero Dark Thirty" or Hooper and "Les Miz."
It's also lots of time to more fully embrace the heart and wit of "Silver Linings Playbook" or the heart and spectacle of "Life of Pi."
As for who might have helped themselves with an acceptance speech, Jennifer Lawrence was amusing and ditsy, while Jessica Chastain — who may well be Lawrence's chief rival for the Oscar — was heartfelt and eloquent, with her pointed tribute to Bigelow that ended with, "you've done more for women in cinema than you take credit for."
Hathaway, who like most winners seemed rushed and hyper, no doubt due to the omnipresent "Please Wrap Up" signs, got off a good line that may perhaps overstate the credibility of a Golden Globe: "Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forever use as a weapon against self-doubt."
Daniel Day-Lewis, who doesn't need to impress anybody with his speechmaking skills after the performance he gave in "Lincoln," was classy and articulate. And Adele, who won for the James Bond song "Skyfall," was charmingly flummoxed.
On the television side, Globes voters proved that they like to consider themselves ahead of the Emmy curve by crowning "Girls" the year's best comedy series. In the past, the HFPA has beat the television Academy to celebrating the likes of "Homeland," and they did it again by giving Lena Dunham's HBO show the top comedy award, and Dunham himself the Globe for comedy actress.
But they aren't ready to let go of their love affair with "Homeland," either, naming that show the year's top drama series and giving awards to both lead actors, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
As the evening ended, it was on to the parties – but more importantly, on to the Producer Guild Awards (Jan. 26), the Screen Actors Guild Awards (Jan. 27) and the DGA Awards (Feb. 2), where the real story of what films have awards heat will be told.
And then, only after all three of those guilds have reached their verdicts, will Academy voters be able to start voting.
"Argo" may be king of the hill on Jan. 13, but there's a bigger mountain to climb ahead.