Golden Globes Analysis: As Odd, Funky and Irrelevant as Ever

Golden Globes voters nominated Nicole Kidman for "The Paperboy," snubbed "Beasts of the Southern Wild" entirely and called "Hyde Park on Hudson" a comedy — and they expect us to take them seriously?

Many insiders have called the Motion Picture Academy's decision to move its own nominations to Jan. 10 an attempt to hurt the Golden Globes, but it's hard to imagine many Oscar voters using Thursday's nominations as a guide to their own decisions.

Case in point: The exhilarating, scrappy independent film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" wasn't eligible for this year's Screen Actors Guild Awards, because its amateur cast didn't work under union contracts. But it might as well have not been eligible for the Golden Globes, either — not because of any guild rules, but because the 80-odd voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association only like their scrappy indies if they've got big stars in them.

Nicole KidmanHow else to explain the way the Globes voters ignored "Beasts" but nominated Nicole Kidman for the laughably trashy "The Paperboy?" 

And not only did they go for Kidman in that potboiler, but they gave her a second nomination for her performance in the TV movie "Hemingway & Gellhorn."

Then they threw in a nom for her husband, Keith Urban, who wrote the song "For You" for the little-seen movie "Act of Valor."

Congratulations, HFPA members — you've probably guaranteed that Mr. and Mrs. Kidman will attend your shindig on Jan. 13.

Also read: Golden Globe Awards Nominations: The Complete List

You've also guaranteed that your awards show will continue to be what it has always been: odd, peripheral, usually by-the-numbers, occasionally perplexing and entirely irrelevant to the real business of honoring the best in cinema.

Yes, the Globes get lots of stars to show up, and they draw decent ratings, and they're an obligatory campaign stop on the road to Oscar.

And on Thursday morning, their voters rubber-stamped almost all of the usual suspects: "Lincoln," Les Miserables," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo," "Life of Pi" and the other films expected to dominate the awards picture.

But around the edges and in the margins, the Globes were as quirky and funky as ever.

Kidman was in, over Maggie Smith and Ann Dowd and Jacki Weaver and Samantha Barks and Kelly Reilly. Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz were both in for "Django Unchained," over Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook" and Matthew McConaughey for "Magic Mike" and Javier Bardem for "Skyfall."

And nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis from "Beasts," who'd certainly be a lot more uninhibited and entertaining on the red carpet than Kidman, was conspicuously missing.

Was "Beasts" too rough and raw for Globes voters? Quite possibly — and maybe Judd Apatow's well-reviewed "This Is 40" was too raunchy, since that film was shut out as well.

Leonardo DiCaprioBut if the HFPA has such delicate sensibilities, how do you explain its wholehearted embrace of Quentin Tarantino's jokey, messy and unbelievably, cartoonishly violent "Django Unchained?"

"Django" has a superstar director who knows how to rock an HFPA press conference, plus delicious performances by DiCaprio and Waltz — that's how you explain it.

(By the way, I like "Django" — it may be a long hot mess and cartoonishly violent, but it's also a hoot and a pretty good thrill ride in Tarantino's inimitable style. But it's certainly not an HFPA kind of movie; they're more of a "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" kind of group, as that film's three nominations showed.)

Certainly, Oscar voters will opt for many of the same films as Globe voters: By separating the picture and lead acting categories into separate drama and musical or comedy genres, the HFPA guarantees a bigger, broader and less discriminating group of nominees that is bound to include lots of Oscar contenders without having any real influence over AMPAS members.

Still, Globes voters were generous and inclusive, particularly in the subdivided lead acting categories. They were able to fit Oscar longshot Richard Gere into the drama actor category, making room for him because Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman were safely ensconced in the comedy or musical category.

So, strangely, was Bill Murray for "Hyde Park on Hudson," which struck most people as a tepid drama about power and infidelity but apparently qualifies under the Globes' generous definition of comedy. (If it stars somebody who started out on "Saturday Night Live," it must be a comedy.) 

Two significant casualties of the drama/comedy or musical split were "Les Miz" director Tom Hooper and "Silver Linings Playbook" director David O. Russell, neither of whom were able to break into the Best Director category.

The category wasn't meant to be drama only, but turned to to be that way this year: Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln," Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty," Ben Affleck for "Argo," Ang Lee for "Life of Pi" and Tarantino for "Django" – which, if truth be told, is probably more of a comedy than "Hyde Park on Hudson."  

But hey, at least the Globes didn't have to try to sell the notion that an action film like "Red" is a comedy, as they did two years ago.

And at least they didn't nominate any movies as howlingly bad as "The Tourist" or "Burlesque" for one of their top awards.

In these quarters, that qualifies as progress.