Comedies get a place of honor at the Golden Globes that the drama-happy Oscars typically don’t provide. That doesn’t mean all is copacetic in the world of guffawmeisters when it comes to the Globes, but some justice is better than none.
“Personally, I love their comedy category,” says “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, whose film is a contender for a nom in that group this year. “You look at the Oscars and, even when they expanded the best picture category, they just didn’t get it. The fact that ‘The Hangover’ didn’t get nominated was ridiculous, because that was an awesome movie — ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ too.”
Still, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s Golden Globe choices in the comedy-musical category are often good for a laugh or two. Last year, show host Ricky Gervais built an entire monologue around one of the group’s more oddball selections.
“It was a big year for 3D movies — ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Despicable Me,’ ‘Tron,’ ” Gervais began. “It seemed like everything this year was three-dimensional. Except the characters in ‘The Tourist.’ ” And, skipping ahead to the end: “I’d like to crush this ridiculous rumor that the only reason ‘The Tourist’ was nominated was so that the foreign press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. That was not the only reason — they also accepted bribes.”
Nominating the horribly reviewed “The Tourist” for a musical or comedy motion picture Globe might not even have been the group’s worst choice in the category last year. (Did you see “Burlesque?”) Then again, Hollywood didn’t exactly offer a bevy of great options, either, with high-profile pics like James L. Brooks’ “How Do You Know” and Ed Zwick’s “Love and Other Drugs” falling flat with critics and audiences.
And, to its credit, the HFPA’s eventual winner in the category, “The Kids Are All Right,” went on to win an Oscar nomination.
Two years ago, the HFPA nominated both “(500) Days of Summer” and Todd Phllips’ raunchy “Hangover,” with the latter going on to win the award. That victory might have owed as much to the movie’s commercial success and influence as to its content, since HFPA members don’t have a strong history in rewarding R-rated comedies.
Yes, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” won a nod in 2006. But Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”) and Adam McKay (“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”), arguably the two most influential voices in film comedy over the past decade, have never been nominated. In fact, McKay’s buddy-cop comedy, “The Other Guys,” was one of the comedies overlooked in favor of “The Tourist” and “Burlesque” last year.
But then, the inclusion of “Burlesque” reaffirms the HFPA’s seeming determination to ensure representation for the “musical” portion of the category’s name. Since 2004, voters have included at least one musical or musically themed movie in the category, including so-so efforts like “The Producers,” “Mamma Mia!” and Rob Marshall’s “Nine” over the R-rated likes of “Pineapple Express,” “Zombieland” and “Wedding Crashers.”
“Everybody I’ve ever met would concede that comedy is harder than drama, and yet it doesn’t seem to get taken too seriously, does it?” says “Crazy Stupid Love” co-director Glenn Ficarra. Co-helmer John Requa adds: “The dramatic elements of our movie were much easier to get right. Laughs are hard. They’re very temperamental.”
And, of course, not everyone shares the same taste. Film critics, for instance, love the Coen brothers, and Academy members and BAFTA voters have displayed an affection for their verbally dense movies, too, giving them, respectively, a total of 33 and 36 nominations over the years. HFPA voters have been more selective, handing the Coens’ movies just 13 nods.
That disparity was highlighted last year when the Coens’ western “True Grit” received 10 Oscar nominations but no love whatsoever from HFPA voters. What’s funny (well … it depends on your sense of humor) is that Paramount submitted “True Grit” to the HFPA as a comedy. “The Tourist,” meanwhile, was originally pitched to the group as a drama. In both cases, the HFPA changed the categories.
“Hey, I think ‘The Fighter’ was one of the best comedies I’ve seen in years,” Feig says of the boxing pic that the HFPA nominated last year in drama. “And I don’t mean that disparagingly. It was so … funny. So you never know.”
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