Reading the tea leaves for the Oscars


February 18. 2013 9:46PM


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LOS ANGELES ‚?? There are better prophets of the Academy Awards than the Golden Globes ‚?? last year, the voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. gave their top drama award to ‚??The Social Network,‚?Ě not eventual best picture Oscar winner ‚??The King‚??s Speech‚?Ě ‚?? so everything that the HFPA does (and should) be taken with a grain of salt.
That‚??s especially true in the top categories, where Globes are presented in drama and musical or comedy categories, the latter inexplicably including the not-really-funny ‚??My Week With Marilyn.‚?Ě That gives the HFPA doubly good odds of aligning with the Oscar winners, yet even that wide net often misses the mark ‚?? five years ago, ‚??Dreamgirls‚?Ě won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical and wasn‚??t even nominated for best picture.
Because Oscar nomination polls closed Friday, with nominations to be announced Tuesday, Jan. 24, the Globes results cannot affect the shortlist from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That said, Sunday‚??s 69th annual Golden Globes did help clarify several Oscar races, while confusing a number of others.
Here‚??s one way to read the HFPA tea leaves:
The top winners at the Golden Globes ‚?? ‚??The Descendants‚?Ě as the best drama, ‚??The Artist‚?Ě as the best comedy or musical ‚?? are now very much the leading ponies in what is looking like a two-horse race. While it‚??s apparent that ‚??The Help,‚?Ě ‚??Hugo‚?Ě and ‚??Midnight in Paris‚?Ě will be nominated for best picture (under new rules, the nominee roster could be as few as five movies and as many as 10 this year), it‚??s hard to imagine anything besides ‚??The Descendants‚?Ě or ‚??The Artist‚?Ě winning the most important Oscar.
The HFPA picked Martin Scorsese for directing ‚??Hugo,‚?Ě marking the fourth award the veteran filmmaker has received from the organization, but gave the best drama movie trophy to ‚??The Descendants,‚?Ě directed by Alexander Payne. It‚??s certain Scorsese will be nominated, as will Payne, Michel Hazanavicius, who directed ‚??The Artist,‚?Ě and Woody Allen, who directed (and won a Golden Globe for writing) ‚??Midnight in Paris.‚?Ě But if the directing Oscar goes to the maker of the best picture, Scorsese‚??s name may not be called.
The Golden Globes went to George Clooney for lead actor from a drama for ‚??The Descendants,‚?Ě and Jean Dujardin for lead actor in a comedy or musical for ‚??The Artist.‚?Ě Exactly like the best picture race, it‚??s apt to be an Academy Award race between those two actors, and nobody else.
Michelle Williams wasn‚??t in a strong Golden Globe category, winning for lead actress in a comedy or musical, a field so weak that not one but two stars (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet) from the immediately forgotten ‚??Carnage‚?Ě were nominated. Meryl Streep won the dramatic actress trophy for ‚??The Iron Lady,‚?Ě and that seems more obvious than inspired. Viola Davis from ‚??The Help,‚?Ě who was nominated but didn‚??t win against Streep, is still running strong in the Oscar predictions.
For the past four years, the Golden Globe winner in this category has repeated at the Kodak Theatre ‚?? ‚??Toy Story 3,‚?Ě ‚??Up,‚?Ě ‚??Wall-E,‚?Ě ‚??Ratatouille‚?Ě ‚?? and that‚??s not good news for Pixar Animation Studios, which made those four winners but did not make Sunday‚??s Golden Globe winner, ‚??Tintin,‚?Ě from Paramount. While the conventional wisdom still favors Paramount‚??s ‚??Rango‚?Ě for the Oscar, the momentum is shifting toward ‚??Tintin.‚?Ě
Iran‚??s ‚??A Separation‚?Ě already has collected any number of critics prizes, and while the Golden Globes rules don‚??t mirror the academy‚??s, there‚??s little doubt the drama about a troubled marriage is the heavy favorite to not only be nominated for the foreign language Oscar but also to take the trophy.
The Golden Globes don‚??t separate these categories between dramas and comedies or musicals, but no matter. Both of Sunday‚??s winners ‚?? Octavia Spencer in ‚??The Help‚?Ě and Christopher Plummer in ‚??Beginners‚?Ě ‚?? will be nominated when the Oscars finalists are announced in a little more than a week, and Spencer and especially Plummer are likely to take home a statuette Sunday, Feb. 26.


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