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Oscar Fortunes Appear to Rise and Fall, but It’s Just the Golden Globes

Nominations for the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards are in as the 2017-2018 film awards season adds yet another notch to its belt. There were snubs, there were surprises, but nothing about Monday morning’s announcement would appear to have significantly altered the course of the circuit. Then again, nothing ever really does; these are just the opinions of a few dozen international journalists who happen to have their own highly rated, liquored-up, televised awards ceremony. Let’s dive in and take a look at what all of it actually means …

Star power
The HFPA has long been noted for its love affair with the stars. This year the group found ways to ensure that people like Angelina Jolie (“First They Killed My Father”), Steve Carell (“Battle of the Sexes”), Tom Hanks (“The Post”), Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”), Hugh Jackman (“The Greatest Showman”), Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”), and even Mariah Carey and Nick Jonas (songs from “The Star” and “Ferdinand,” respectively) show up at their awards ceremony.

Minting last-minute contenders
The group seemed to want it clear that the two movies they had more or less exclusively seen by the time voting wrapped — Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” and Michael Gracey’s “The Greatest Showman” — were theirs to elevate in the awards race this season. Scott’s film racked up three nominations after whirlwind reshoots and an under-the-wire screening for the HFPA one week ago, while Gracey’s landed three noms, for song and best picture and actor, comedy or musical. One film the group did not see in time was “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which did not screen in any capacity until the world premiere Saturday night.

The morning’s big winners
Fox Searchlight is certainly flying high on the heels of a field-leading seven nominations for Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and six for Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (plus two more for “Battle of the Sexes”). The warm embrace of the season must feel nice after the disastrous turn of events for the distributor’s expensive “Birth of a Nation” Sundance acquisition last year. Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” wasn’t too far behind with six nominations, while “I, Tonya” asserted itself as a serious overall player with a comedy best picture nomination. (It also picked up expected bids for lead and supporting actress, for Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, respectively.)

The morning’s big losers
Amid the debate over whether “Get Out” is really a comedy or not, one undeniable comedy was left on the sidelines. Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick” was passed over in the very two categories where “Get Out” found purchase: best picture and actor, comedy or musical. Call it a dip in the roller coaster ride after a solid Critics’ Choice showing last week. Meanwhile, A24 probably would have liked more love for “The Florida Project” than a supporting actor bid, but the distributor’s other two players, “The Disaster Artist” and “Lady Bird,” picked up the slack with six combined nominations. “Darkest Hour” only managed one mention, for star Gary Oldman (and likely by the skin of his teeth — Oldman has been vocal in his displeasure with the HFPA in the past), while Jake Gyllenhaal continues to struggle in the race, despite excellent work in the critically acclaimed “Stronger.” He would appear to have been clipped by Washington in the drama actor field this year. Netflix’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” wasn’t a big hit with the group, but even with comedy categories to work with, it turned up a goose egg. Other would-have-been Oscar players that continued to dwindle Monday included “Detroit,” “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and “Wonderstruck.”

Other odds and ends
Aaron Sorkin is a favored son with the HFPA, having picked up screenplay nominations consistently over the years for films like “A Few Good Men,” “The American President,” “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Steve Jobs,” which were ignored by the Academy. He’s back this year with “Molly’s Game” (and likely good for an Oscar nomination, too, given the incredibly thin adapted race). “Downsizing” star Hong Chau finally made her move, as Paramount seeks to defuse some of the consternation over what many have perceived as a problematic role. After Spirit Awards recognition and now this, Armie Hammer appears to be the supporting player from “Call Me by Your Name” getting the love this season, much to the dismay of Michael Stuhlbarg fans. And the movie few are likely to be discussing because it’s more or less doing exactly what has been expected of it is Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” Is that our true best picture frontrunner underneath all the chaos? Time will tell.

Does any of it really matter?
Of course any exposure in the awards season matters. It’s all cumulative. “Golden Globe nominee” becomes more artillery for the cause. What happens on the actual night will be more interesting to gauge. After all, the Golden Globes (along with the Critics’ Choice Awards) is a broadcast event in the middle of Oscar voting, and Academy voters will be watching. For instance, bearing in mind that we’ll never know for sure, many perceived Meryl Streep as a bubble Oscar contender for “Florence Foster Jenkins” last year. Her rousing Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech taking aim at the current presidential administration might well have added some wind to her sails as Academy members sat with ballots in hand. Who knows? It’s best to just consider the Golden Globes in its own place, a sometimes unique offering to the season, but mostly just a pit stop on the way to actual industry professionals’ collective assessment of the year’s best work.

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