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Golden Globes Double the Fun Again With More Choices for Best Picture

For awards season pundits, the Golden Globes offer double the prognostications, and double the fun.

Films and actors can compete in drama or musical/comedy categories, so a drama with some humor, such as “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” will most likely find an easy path to a kudo, rather than competing in the much more crowded drama feature race.

That said, the musical/comedy race has produced such Oscar-winning best pictures as 2019’s “Green Book,” 2017’s “La La Land” and 2012”s “The Artist,” plus several nominees that made the ballot but didn’t take the big prize.

Music or Comedy

This year, the adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legit veteran “Cats” is the only traditional musical competing in the category. The trailer elicited mixed response but generated a lot of talk.

“Rocketman’s” fantasy-driven, flashy singing and dancing numbers are far from helmer Dexter Fletcher’s more traditional PG-13 Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the Elton John extravaganza, complete with an utterly committed performance from Taron Egerton, should grab a Globes slot.

Another edgy pic that should make waves is Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit.” The Toronto Film Festival Audience Award winner (like Golden Globe and Oscar winner “Green Book” last year, and 2016’s “La La Land”) is likely to draw maverick Globes voters looking to award the audacious satire.

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Eddie Murphy and a great cast propel Netflix’s “Dolemite Is My Name,” which should bring out Globes voters looking to reward Murphy and a story about a showbiz dreamer. And the pic allowed Wesley Snipes to flex his comic muscles.

Other films that may show up on the Globes ballot include “Knives Out,” which is gaining traction given its strong critical response and all-star cast. “Hustlers” wowed Toronto festgoers, who mostly talked up Jennifer Lopez’s knockout star turn.

Adam Sandler’s own star turn fuels the roller-coaster ride that is Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems.” Lulu Wang’s festival hit “The Farewell” is hard to ignore, given its B.O., critical success and its establishment of star Awkwafina’s bona fides.

Other films that shouldn’t be overlooked include Olivia Wilde’s debut “Booksmart,” and Danny Boyle’s “Yesterday,” featuring the Beatles’ greatest hits in a crowd-pleasing comedy.

And don’t forget “Blinded by the Light.” Gurinder Chadha’s adaptation of Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir “Greetings From Bury Park — Race. Religion. Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a non-traditional jukebox musical starring Bruce Springsteen’s music and talented newcomer Viveik Kalra.

Drama

Netflix has unleashed “The Two Popes” in this category, somewhat upsetting the “The Irishman”/“Marriage Story”/“Joker” blockade. “Two Popes” has been delighting viewers at industry screenings, giving it critical buzz in the weeks before voting.

That said, “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” are playing out their theatrical lives and will hit Netflix soon, thus creating more buzz among millions of viewers. After its Venice festival win, “Joker” made almost a billion dollars and spawned just as many think pieces, and mostly likely will spawn more in its march to awards nominations.

So what else can break through? “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” from Marielle Heller, stars national treasure Tom Hanks as previous national treasure Fred Rogers. The film celebrates forgiveness, kindness and human decency, and arrives right on time for a Globes nomination.

Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” has also been creating buzz with its industry screenings, and its young cast of Globes darlings (Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet) and director Gerwig should push this pic into contention.

Getting past the heavyweights, Sam Mendes’ “1917” recently wowed industry audiences in New York and L.A., and given its pedigree (Mendes, stars Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, George MacKay, Colin Firth, Richard Madden — also a great perf in “Rocketman” — and Mark Strong) and its subject matter, World War I, it should land with Globes voters.

Don’t count out Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell.” Eastwood has seven Globes noms for directing, and was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1988. The film is earning buzz based on the trailer, a few industry screenings and Eastwood’s stellar reputation.

Box-office topper “Ford v Ferrari” should also earn a look given its star power (Matt Damon, Christian Bale) and its crowd-pleasing story.

“Bombshell” is being talked up mostly for its performances although Jay Roach’s film is earning praise.
The poetry with which Trey Edward Shults conveys the family life at the center of “Waves” should earn some nods from the Globes voters, who often look to reward mavericks. Other films worth a look for the drama category include “Judy,” “Ad Astra,” “Clemency,” “Dark Waters,” “Harriet” and “Just Mercy.”

Actor/Actress

Globes voters have a buffet of fine acting to choose from in the actress in a motion picture — drama category. Renée Zellweger seems to be the one to beat here, as her portrayal of late-career Judy Garland is a show-stopper performance from the three-time Golden Globe winner. Zellweger’s risk-taking has always paid off at awards time.

Another risk-taker is Charlize Theron. The thesp’s take on Megyn Kelly in Jay Roach’s fact-based “Bombshell” has Hollywood buzzing, as does Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” And don’t forget the raves Cynthia Erivo is earning in “Harriet.”

As for comedy/musical actress category, there are no clear-cut leaders — perhaps because most of the features in this category don’t star women — save for Awkwafina’s toplining turn in “The Farewell” and Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” although that film’s Constance Wu is also a good bet for kudos.

It’s another great year to be a leading man in a drama: Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”), Robert De Niro (“The Irishman”) and Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”) all deliver awards-worthy perfs.
Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”) and Christian Bale (in the flashier of the “Ford v Ferrari” roles) are also gaining ground
as contenders.

But it’s the musical/comedy actor category that is more interesting, with Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”) potentially facing off again fellow comic Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”) in their best work in years. Pit them against the often deftly comic performance of Leonardo Di Caprio in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” with Taron Egerton channeling his inner rock star diva and unleashing his wonderful voice in “Rocketman.”

All will become clear Dec. 9 when the nominations are announced.

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