Golden Globes: HFPA Ignores Film Critics and Makes Good on TV Kingmaker Role

(L to R) MAHERSHALA ALI and
Patti Perret

The Golden Globe Awards started out with promise for Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born,” largely considered this year’s Oscar frontrunner with phase-one Academy balloting already underway. The year’s biggest movie ballad, “Shallow,” roped a prize for Lady Gaga and company early on, but that was to be the film’s final happy moment as Alfonso Cuaron, Glenn Close, Rami Malek, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” closed the door to any more progress.

Sunday’s prizes were decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of roughly 100 journalists vastly different from the Academy’s 8,000-strong membership. But the instinct will likely still be to reassess the season as a race between Globe winners “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Twist and turn with every stiff breeze on the journey if you must, but Oscar season isn’t a sprint. Nevertheless, these movies get a significant boost with a widely watched televised event such as this, and that is always the true capital granted by NBC and the HFPA.

Christian Bale and Olivia Colman took the comedy acting prizes for “Vice” and “The Favourite,” respectively. The latter may well have shot out in front of Lady Gaga and even the still-Oscarless Close with a delightful speech that, for many, was an introduction to the 44-year-old actress. Bale, meanwhile, could be in the pole position, even if he is likely to catch a wave of hate from the right for that “Satan as inspiration” barb.

In the supporting ranks, “If Beale Street Could Talk” star Regina King got some solid exposure at a key moment (she was passed over by SAG-AFTRA), while “Green Book’s” Mahershala Ali made a heavy play to win his second Oscar in three years — albeit in a field that didn’t include living legend Sam Elliott.

But again, don’t be too tempted to let these wins lead the way. That said, some moments almost felt like rubber stamps on the season. Cuaron winning the directing award after approaching nearly 30 trophies on the regional critics circuit is no shocker, and he’s likely to repeat at the Oscars. Ditto his and Mexico’s foreign-film win for “Roma.”

On the television side, Netflix took the first two awards of the night, and neither Michael Douglas’ win for “The Kominsky Method” nor Richard Madden’s for “Bodyguard” came as a surprise. Each played to one of the HFPA’s two best-known fetishes — the former for big Hollywood stars, the latter for fare with an international flavor (not to mention getting to play kingmaker).

But “The Americans” winning best drama series, that was something. The Globes typically turns a blind eye to programs that aren’t the new, hot thing. Nominated for its sixth and final season, “The Americans” is not new. It was up against four new series — one of which, FX’s “Pose,” seemed a safer bet, and could have benefited from the momentum that a Globes win lends heading into Emmy season, much in the same way that “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” did last season when it won best comedy series and for star Rachel Brosnahan. The Globes has minimal if any impact on Oscars campaigns, but for the Emmys, it matters. The membership of the Television Academy is roughly two-and-a-half times that of its film counterpart. And with nearly 500 scripted series on television, it is impossible for Emmy voters to watch even half of what’s eligible. With Emmy campaigns beginning in earnest on Monday, Globes winners start a step ahead in a long race.

But for “The Americans,” the Emmy road ended last year. Same goes for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” which followed up its 2018 best limited series Emmy win with a Globe Sunday. Best drama series actress winner Sandra Oh was already nominated and lost for Season 1 of “Killing Eve.” Madden and Douglas face steep roads to next year’s Emmys, where star power and accent will matter less. Other winners such as Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”) and Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”) could benefit more. But despite the wins by “The Kominsky Method” — Chuck Lorre’s second streaming show feels too tailor-made for Globes voters for its strong showing to be an indicator of future success — there was no “Maisel” this year.

No “Maisel,” that is, except maybe “Maisel.” Star Rachel Brosnahan was a rare repeat Globe winner for best comedy actress. It remains to be seen whether that helps her going up against eight-time Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus when she returns to contention this year for the final season of “Veep.”

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