Golden Globe Film Predictions – What Surprises Might be in Store?

GGBanner2Hollywood Foreign Press

On Monday, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) will announce the nominations for the 75th Annual , taking place on Sunday, Jan. 7, with Seth Meyers hosting.

The Hollywood Foreign Press is exactly what it sounds like – a group of journalists from all over the world, mostly residing in Hollywood, who cover movies for a wide variety of international outlets.

Because the group has been handing out for 75 years, the HFPA is one of the more respected awards every year. Often, nominations will be similar to the later Oscar choices, although the HFPA separates films into “drama” and “musical/comedy” categories, which essentially allows them twice the choices in Best Picture, Actress and Actor categories. They only have one category each for Best Director and Screenplay, which often will point to a preference towards the movies that might win the Best Picture awards. The HFPA is also known for some of their odder and more incongruous choices.

It’s important to remember that the HFPA is not made up of those in the industry as is the case with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences or any of the separate guilds. The approximately 90 members aren’t necessarily film critics either, so their tastes might be more populous than the New York, L.A. or other regional film critics.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on what might get nominated on Monday and what might be left out, and again, this is based on the fact that the HFPA are sometimes notoriously predictable and sometimes the exact opposite. I’ll explain more below, but I’m just sticking with the film section of things, because that’s my forte; there are much better TV writers at the Tracking Board who will hopefully have more insight once nominations are announced.


Warner Bros.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

This is a particularly interesting year for the ’ two Best Picture races, because there are so many possible ways the HFPA might go. Prestige has always been important for the group, but there are films American critics are praising that the foreign group might not connect with. Similarly, there might be a few movies that have a more European slant that could do better at the Globes than with other groups.

For instance, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk should be a shoe-in for a nomination, as should the Italy-set drama Call Me By Your Name, while Spielberg’s The Post offers the type of prestige upon which the HFPA thrives. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water  is also receiving enough praise that it should be a shoe-in for a nomination even with its genre roots and musical numbers.

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has done fairly well among the critics groups, but can the Irish filmmaker’s taste of American rural life connect with the HFPA’s international membership, especially for anyone who considers it a comedy? The same can be said for Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, which is as British as Dunkirk but relies much more on language and British politics than HFPA members might have the patience for. Many groups will reward Dee Rees’ Mudbound for its achievements, but it just doesn’t seem like the kind of movie the HFPA might nominate. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread also has a European flair, but might be too dark for HFPA members even compared to the BP nominee There Will Be Blood.

Could members who enjoyed Warner’s Wonder Woman maybe want to pay their respects to it as an achievement and pick it over more traditional awards fare? If we remember that the Globe in this category went to James Cameron’s Avatar over Kathryn Bigelow’s more down-to-earth The Hurt Locker, we can see that the Globes aren’t afraid of no blockbuster fare.

The biggest question in this category will probably be whether Three Billboards might be omitted instead of Darkest Hour.

My Picks: Dunkirk, The Post, Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour

The Post Review

20th Century Fox

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

There’s a semi-myth about the HFPA’s notoriety for often going with the most famous celebrities possible in order to get them to come to their awards ceremony, something that’s led to a number of head-scratching choices. Most of those come in the “musical/comedy” categories though, since most of the time, the “drama” performances are legit enough to offer some prestigious talent.

Following up on the question of Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri being considered a drama, that won’t stop Frances McDormand from getting nominated in the category. It will be her sixth GG nomination, so maybe she’ll win this year. Same can be said for Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, who will offer some serious competition, as will Meryl Streep, who has received 29 (!) Golden Globe nominations as well as the group’s Cecil B. DeMille award earlier this year. There’s little chance that Streep won’t be at this year’s party, because she’s damn good in The Post.

That leaves two slots open with Jessica Chastain and Kate Winslet being GG favorites, but while I think Chastain could get a fifth nomination for Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game after winning a GG for Zero Dark Thirty.  I’m a little more dubious about Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel even if Winslet gives another great performance, and the fact she’s won four out of her 12 previous nominations.

It seems like this category could be the one to honor another “wonder” movie Wonder Woman with Israeli actress Gal Gadot having done so much above and beyond in her role as Princess Diana. I’m going with Gadot over Winslet for one of this year’s surprise nominees.

My Picks: Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins, Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Gal Gadot


Focus Features

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Regardless of where Darkest Hour falls in terms of the Best Picture category, Gary Oldman is still the odds-on favorite to win this category for his performance as Winston Churchill.  Same with Daniel Day Lewis for his role in PT Anderson’s Phantom Thread, which may be his last acting role and deserves his eighth GG nomination.

Much of what’s getting Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name so much attention is the performance by 21-year-old Timothée Chalamet, who should benefit from his ability to adapt to the film’s European setting.

Tom Hanks is another frequent GG nominee, having won four times, and his turn in The Post should be good enough to invite him back.

The last slot will either go to Jake Gyllenhaal for Stronger or Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel. While neither movie was big at the box office, Gyllenhaal’s turn as an amputee Boston marathon survivor should get him a third nomination as the HFPA likes the actor more than the Academy does.

My Picks: Gary Oldman, Daniel Day Lewis, Timothée Chalamet, Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal

the big sick

Amazon Studios

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The real question in this category is how much it will be weighted towards musicals like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Fox’s The Greatest Showman, which only screened for the HFPA this past week.

This has been a great year for comedies, and it will be a great time to find out how many of the year’s acclaimed comedies “travel well” in this case to the HFPA’s foreign membership. As in past years, this is going to be the category that ruins many an office pool.

Of all the comedies released this year, Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick seems like it could connect more with HFPA voters than any other comedy option, even in a year with strong choices like Jordan Peele’s “not really a comedy” Get Out, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and I, Tonya starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding. Think about it. The Big Sick is all about Nanjiani trying to balance the traditions of his family and country with trying to find love in America, which seems like a perfect HFPA offering.

But let’s face it. The horror film Get Out is a far more timely and relevant movie even if it’s not a situation HFPA necessarily would ever find themselves in. Would any of them connect with Gerwig’s film in the way that American film critics have? Probably not, and the only reason I, Tonya will win them over is because it’s based on a notorious tabloid story. Yet they are all likely to be nominated.

There are so many possibilities for that last slot, like one of the musicals – Beauty and the Beast is one of the year’s bigger hits, but is The Greatest Showman good enough to be considered? My instinct would normally go with James Franco’s The Disaster Artist because the material should connect with members. (Then again, I finally got around to watching Girls Trip after hearing Jeff Sneider rave about it for months, and I think that comedy could translate as well as Bridesmaids did.)

My Picks: Get Out, Lady Bird, The Big Sick, I, Tonya, The Disaster Artist (but probably Girls Trip)



Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

In any other year, this would be a hard category to fill up and odder choices might sneak in, but this is a year when we have Margot Robbie kicking butt as Tonya Harding and two-time GG nominee Saoirse Ronan blowing people away as Lady Bird.  Robbie is more likely to win the category but there are plenty of previous nominees in the mix.

Judi Dench’s new movie Victoria and Abdul might not have made very big waves at the box office, but the 12-time GG nominee is an HFPA-favorite, so she’s in. Same with Emma Stone who won a GG in this category for La La Land and who gives a great performance in the timely Battle of the Sexes.

The slot should be filled with the star of the year’s biggest musical with Emma Watson receiving her first GG nomination.

My Picks: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Judi Dench, Emma Stone, Emma Watson



Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Again, another category where things can go haywire is this one where things have indeed gone haywire. Matt Damon won for the hilarious “comedy” The Martian. Paul Giamatti won for a movie that a handful of people have seen. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. have won GGs but not for their more memorable roles.

This year, we have James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, an absolutely hilarious performance, but will foreigners find it nearly as funny? Probably. For reasons mentioned above, Kumail Nanjiani should get his first GG nomination. Daniel Kaluuya’s non-comedic performance in Get Out should get him in as well, although if anyone will be omitted, it will probably be him.

That brings us to the “let’s fill in the category with big name stars” portion of the category with Hugh Jackman possibly getting nominated for The Greatest Showman and Steve Carell getting in for Battle of the Sexes. If there’s a surprise it might be Matt Damon receiving his eighth nomination for Alexander Payne’s Downsizing.

My Picks: James Franco, Kumail Nanjiani, Hugh Jackman, Steve Carell, Matt Damon

Allison Janney I Tonya


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Supporting GG categories can be more straight-ahead and go 1 for 1 with Oscars, and this year’s GG nominations should be no exception and a good precursor both to SAG nominees and Oscars. Three of the more likely nominees go one-in-one with nominees in the comedy/musical lead actor categories with Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) and Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird) being joined by Melissa Leo from the lower profile Novitiate.

Really, the only question is whether the last slot might go to Mary J. Blige for Mudbound  or Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water, but the latter’s far more likely with del Toro’s movie receiving a lot of love from the group.

My Picks: Allison Janney, Holly Hunter, Laurie Metcalf, Melissa Leo, Octavia Spencer



Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Another category that often falls very closely in line with other groups but often goes with a different winner than the Oscars should see some of the same names, including Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project, Armie Hammer for Call Me By Your Name, Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards.. and Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water.  It should be absolutely zero surprise that three of those align with picks in the lead categories.

Oddly, Michael Stuhlbarg also appears in two of those movies. While his Call Me By Your Name performance is more memorable, it feels like the GGs might leave him out in favor of another actor and previous nominee Ben Mendelsohn (for Bloodline) probably can get a nod for his performance in Darkest Hour.

My Picks: Willem Dafoe, Armie Hammer, Sam Rockwell, Richard Jenkins, Ben Mendelsohn

Best Director – Motion Picture and Best Original Screenplay

Moving things along, these two categories are important and related, because we have ten Best Picture nominations, and the ones that receive GG nominations for directing and writing give us a clearer picture of the group’s favorites films.

With that in mind, Christopher Nolan should receive a nomination for directing Dunkirk– let’s face it. Dunkirk is this year’s Avatar, Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road—as should del Toro and Luca Guadagnino. It’s doubtful the HFPA would pass up a chance to nominate Steven Spielberg, as he’s another Cecil B. DeMille winner.

That leaves one slot, and it’s going to be hard to deny Jordan Peele that nomination with what he’s achieved with Get Out. Maybe Patty Jenkins also has a shot if Wonder Woman gets a Golden Globe in another category, but other options like Greta Gerwig and Martin McDonagh just don’t seem realistic.

Although I don’t think Dunkirk will get a screenplay nomination, The Big Sick could be the surprise spoiler for Three Billboards.. and Lady Bird, which many feel would be stronger choices. (See above for reasons why I don’t think either will connect with the HFPA as much as they have critics.)

Director Picks: Christopher Nolan, Luca Guadagnino, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, Jordan Peele
Screenplay Picks: 
Get OutThe Shape of WaterCall Me By Your NameThe PostThe Big Sick

There isn’t much to say about the other categories as Disney’s Coco will slaughter any other animated feature that might get nominated. I really don’t have much knowledge about the HFPA’s taste in foreign language contenders, and I’m not even sure I’d know where to begin with score and song, not this early in awards season.

Check back on Monday for the announcement of the 75th Annual Golden Globe nominations, including both film and television categories. The winners will be announced on January 7.

  | East Coast Editor
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