For an Oscar race that has felt sewn up for a certain musical for quite some time this season, the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards was ready and willing to provide a big rubber stamp.
Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” walked away with seven awards Sunday night, but the 31-year-old director’s love letter to Los Angeles was the talk of the show even before emcee Jimmy Fallon launched into his opening monologue. With a musical number featuring a playlist of tunes from the film’s soundtrack, the show’s producers wrangled stars like Ryan Reynolds and Justin Timberlake to participate, as well as the cast of “Stranger Things,” among others.
Gee, you think members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. liked this movie? Indeed, they handed it a record-breaking number of trophies that bested previous record holders “Midnight Express” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” And frankly, we won’t likely see that again.
(For some context, each of those two films won debut performance awards that are no longer presented.)
The last film to receive more than three Golden Globes was “The Social Network” in 2010. They usually spread the wealth more than this, but what can you say? They fell in love. And they won’t likely be alone this season.
The night kicked off with a true stunner, however, as Aaron Taylor-Johnson snatched the supporting actor prize for his work in “Nocturnal Animals.” The actor was already an unexpected inclusion, landing a nomination over co-star Michael Shannon (who has netted a few critics’ awards notices on the circuit this year). “Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali was considered the favorite going into the night, but alas, the HFPA had its own idea all along in this category.
However, “Moonlight” did manage to break the surface and gasp for air with a best drama picture win. You could almost lose sight of that through the “La La” haze.
Elsewhere, Oscar frontrunners continued to win the day. Casey Affleck seized the lead actor drama prize for “Manchester by the Sea.” Viola Davis took best supporting actress for “Fences.” “Zootopia” won best animated feature. And Emma Stone (“La La Land”) claimed best comedy/musical actress.But the HFPA did show its affinity for the Academy-shafted “Elle” by handing it the foreign film honor and, in a twist, best drama actress for Isabelle Huppert. The film won’t be in the mix at the Oscars, having missed the shortlist of nine semifinalists, but this kind of spotlight could be a boon for Huppert, who is angling for a spot in a very tight race.
So there it is. “La La Land” was already perched, and certainly sweeping the Globes doesn’t in and of itself portend anything for the Oscars. Indeed, it could even give some Academy voters, who sit currently with ballots in hand, a bit of pause, or a desire to stick up for other contenders.
But regardless, the writing has been on the wall for quite a while. The HFPA simply reminded us of that Sunday night.