How Did Sam Rockwell Steal the Golden Globe that Was Willem Dafoe’s to Lose?


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The first big surprise of tonight’s 75th ceremony was when the first film prize was announced in the Supporting Actor category, and ’s name was called out for his performance in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

It might have been a shocker to the millions of people (including most movie journalists) who have been following awards season so far and seen actor Willem Dafoe receive many critical accolades for his performance in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project.

So what happened? Only the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press know for sure, but there’s a chance that the members of the -giving group just preferred McDonagh’s film. After all, they did nominate it for best film in the dramatic category, as well as nominating McDonagh for his script and direction.

If that is the case then it looks like Frances McDormand will follow Rockwell’s lead and win the dramatic actress category, and that would give her a big push going into the Oscar nominations when they’re announced Jan. 22. This is McDormand’s sixth nomination having only received a special award from the HFPA for her part in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts in 1994.

Going back to , you can’t really find an actor who is as hard-working and as well-liked among journalists as the Three Billboards co-star… except maybe for Willem Dafoe.  Both actors have been cranking out great film performances for years, and though Dafoe has now been nominated twice, this was Rockwell’s first nomination ever.

Another possible reason for the Rockwell win is that Fox Searchlight wasn’t going to rely entirely on Guillermo del Toro’s the Shape of Water, just because it received the most Globe nominations.  They knew that they needed to give as much support to McDonagh’s film.

A24, on the other hand, has been busy promoting Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, not only for awards but also for their theatrical releases. As one of the newer film distributors at the Globes (having won the Globe for dramatic feature for last year’s Moonlight), A24 might have been stretched too thin to boost The Florida Project‘s singular nomination.

Don’t worry. Rockwell’s win doesn’t rule out Dafoe possibly winning his first Oscar in the supporting category, because how the Screen Actors Guild votes might be more telling, but this awards season is far from over and Dafoe could give Rockwell a good chase towards the finish line.

  | East Coast Editor

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