Shaping Up the Best Picture Race: The Golden Globes


Written By: DeKAdemy-Awards-Nerd

Critics’ Choice. Golden Globe. Screen Actors Guild. All of these organizations have one thing in common: they ARE not the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), the organization and voting body for the Oscars. Yet, as soon as Golden Globe nominations are revealed, networks will devote considerable airtime to discussing the “snubs” and “surprises.” That being said, what can we take away from this week of nominations? Do they even matter?

The answer is a resounding “maybe.” All of these awards are from within the industry, but let’s start with the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a group of 90 journalists who require studios to set up screenings at fancy hotels for them. They also appreciate gifts, which in itself presents the HFPA as “pay-for-play.” Film stars are expected to wine, dine, and take pictures with these desperate journalists for a Golden Globe.

The BFCA (Broadcast Film Critics Association) is an association of hundreds of movie critics across the country, and up until recently, most people shrugged off these awards, until they became an uncanny prognosticator of the Oscar nominations. Lastly, the Screen Actors Guild’s awards are voted on by a random sampling of a few thousand members, many of whom are also members of AMPAS. The HFPA has a lucrative TV deal with NBC, and the Golden Globes has much larger viewership than the BFCA and SAG awards’ broadcasts. The general populace may care about the Globes more, but all three awards need to be examined to get a clear picture on where the Oscars are headed.




Indie hit THE BIG SICK scored 5 nominations at the BFCA before being entirely shut out at the Golden Globes. Holly Hunter and the film’s ensemble were recognized by SAG. The Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy is well-liked by critics, but faces an uphill climb to Best Picture. Hunter, an Academy Award winner for The Piano (1993), could pick up a fifth Oscar nomination based on these precursory awards. 


Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of the André Aciman novel CALL ME BY YOUR NAME scored big with BFCA, earning eight nominations overall. The Golden Globes nominated Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, but did not recognize Guadagnino or the screenplay, written by prolific filmmaker James Ivory. Despite only one nomination from SAG (for Chalamet), Chalamet’s breakthrough performance as Elio seems to be resonating.


Ten years ago, DARKEST HOUR would have been the hands-down Best Picture winner. A celebrated actor playing a British historical figure was like catnip. But Joe Wright’s WWII drama seems to be getting lost in the shuffle, with only Gary Oldman receiving honors. The film did get a Best Picture nomination from BFCA, but the Golden Globes shut the film out almost completely. Times are changing... but it is a period piece, so wait on the guilds before rushing to judgment on this one.




DUNKIRK, Christopher Nolan’s WWII blockbuster, picked up eight Critics’ Choice nominations, three pivotal Golden Globe nominations, and Best Stunt Ensemble from SAG. While no one remembers this film for the acting, very few films have been able to secure the big prize without an acting nomination. The picture will definitely become clearer on this one after we hear from more technical guilds.


THE FLORIDA PROJECT remains a critical favorite, but has struggled to resonate with a broad selection of nominations. Academy Award-nominee Willem Dafoe seems to be a shoo-in, though, winning a large share of critics’ awards. Expect him to prepare a speech. Don’t count out director Sean Baker in the Best Director category at the Oscars. Indie directors that worked with child actors have snuck into this category before (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Room) and the Academy’s directors branch can be unpredictable.




GET OUT, although a dark horse contender, has gotten a lot of love from SAG and BFCA... as well as a Best Comedy nomination at the Golden Globes. While it’s a controversial decision, we must not ignore that the film is still getting a lot of attention right now, especially actor Daniel Kaluuya, who has received nominations from all three big precursors. The competition is tough, but expect Jordan Peele’s thriller to break into the Best Picture and Screenplay categories.


 I, TONYA has been receiving rave reviews since its premiere in Toronto. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, in particular, have been lauded for their performances, and have been nominated by many different organizations. Could this sneak into Best Picture like Dallas Buyers Club?


Now, ladies and gentlemen, our new frontrunner: LADY BIRD. A24’s Greta Gerwig film has ticked off every box that matters for a Best Picture winner— 4 prominent Golden Globe nominations, 8 Critics Choice nominations, and 3 from the Screen Actors Guild. Its 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and stellar box office performance could push it to victory, although it lacks the grandeur of other films on this list. Oscar voters often reward films with deeper subject matter. Coming off an Emmy and a Tony win earlier this year, Laurie Metcalf has swept numerous local critics awards for Best Supporting Actress, and remains the one to beat.


What about MUDBOUND? The film has great reviews, but as a Netflix-backed film, its shot at the top awards rests with SAG. Mary J. Blige, however, has been nominated by SAG, BFCA and the Globes, and could very well find an Oscar nomination in her path for her breakout acting role.




Daniel Day-Lewis’ final role in PHANTOM THREAD has received raves from critics, but he missed out on a crucial SAG nomination, since screeners were not received by the guild. Statistically speaking, this could be worrying for fans hoping to see DDL get his fourth Oscar, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s period drama could still surprise. American Sniper was largely ignored by early precursor awards before receiving six Oscar nominations.


On paper, THE POST seems the most poised to win; Spielberg, Hanks and Streep, the most Oscar-friendly combo of the 1990s. Add in the political aspect of today’s “fake news” barrage on the media, and the Washington Post-Pentagon Papers story seems the most timely. That being said, The Post, much like Phantom Thread, did not screen for SAG— and ended up with no nominations. But as I said: Spielberg, Hanks and Streep! The guild will come around to seeing the film soon, and may even vote as a “make-good” for other snubs.



It led with the most Critics Choice and the Golden Globe nominations of any film this year, so one would think that THE SHAPE OF WATER is our new frontrunner. Guillermo Del Toro is widely respected by the Academy, and his fantasy fairytale has been receiving tremendous praise for its visuals, as well as performances by Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins (both of whom were nominated by all three voting bodies). Its only obstacle is that the film is fantasy/science fiction, a genre hurdle that still seems to prevent great films from winning the big prize (see Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road, Arrival, etc).


Lastly, there’s THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, the other movie to check off every precursor box so far. Let us not forget that this won the Toronto Film Festival’s Audience Award, a strong harbinger of Best Picture contenders (such as 12 Years A Slave, Room, and La La Land). Despite missing out on the National Board of Review’s top 10, the film over-performed with SAG and the Golden Globes, while getting six key nominations from BFCA. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell have received the most praise for their standout performances, and the former could end up with her second Academy Award. The film discusses race (before almost completely dropping it), police brutality, and feminism in a way that seems to be resonating with audiences all over the country.


So what do you think? The race for Best Picture is far from over, but these 3 award shows provide us key information as to how the Oscar nominations may look.







Mercer Malakoff