Golden Globes Film Nominations: The HFPA Spreads the Wealth

Seventeen different studios were represented by the group's nominations.

The Revenant Movie Reivew
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

With mentions for best picture – drama and best director (on the heels of major critics awards success last week), the biggest question raised by the Golden Globe nominations for me today is whether Warner Bros. is ready to really jump in with both feet on the “Mad Max: Fury Road” Oscar campaign. It was always, of course, going to do well with the critics groups, and though “critics don’t vote for Oscars” is a mantra worth repeating this time of year, the film’s profile couldn’t be bigger at this stage.

The “Mad Max” love highlighted what was, all things considered, a pretty decent film line-up snnounced Thursday morning. There was little in the way of genuine surprise outside of Mark Ruffalo landing a somewhat inspired comedy/musical nomination for “Infinitely Polar Bear.” Johnny Depp was passed over by the group (though apparently “The Tourist” was good enough a few years back). “Fifty Shades of Grey” got the distinction of becoming “a Golden Globe nominee,” with an original song mention. The entire “Spotlight” cast, nominated for a SAG ensemble award yesterday, was shut out. But everything else was more or less in the realm of reason and expectation.

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Fox bounced back from a rough morning yesterday with best picture, best actor and best director nominations for both “The Martian” and “The Revenant.” (And two more best pic nods for “Joy” and “Spy.”) “The Hateful Eight” bounded into the race with supporting actress, screenplay and score love. And “Carol” led the way overall with five nominations, an interesting note after talk of the film not going over so well with the group (and particularly after Harvey Weinstein threw what was ostensibly a holiday party at the Four Seasons last week with ballots out and a number of HFPA members in attendance).

“Trumbo” proved to be more than just an actors thing (it picked up three SAG nominations yesterday) as both Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren made the cut again. Paul Dano’s seemingly struggling campaign saw new life with a supporting actor berth for “Love & Mercy” (though Elizabeth Banks couldn’t find room). And “99 Homes” star Michael Shannon asserted himself yet again, which is just delightful.

Those are the broad takeaways as I look over the list. Does it matter? On one hand, analyzing the Golden Globe nominations in the context of Oscar impact is folly. On the other, it’s silly to ignore the profile boost that certain films and performances get from recognition on a highly-rated televised awards show.

But this is also a group very much concerned with its image. A concerted effort to legitimize itself in the face of years of quid pro quo shenanigans and star obsession has led to a string of highly respectable choices as of late. And there is a definite desire to spread the wealth among the studios (17 are represented in the film nominations). So there is agenda lurking, while an influx of newer, younger members in the group has also kept things interesting.

The point is, the Golden Globes have been and remain very much their own thing. And in the spectrum of campaigning, they are a marketing opportunity, full stop. Look too deeply into it beyond that and you’re at risk of being lost in the tea leaves.

The 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan. 10.