The Favourite, A Star Is Born, The Wife and Bohemian Rhapsody are likely winners for various awards on Sunday; but Widows, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Shoplifters and Roma deserve recognition too
Best film (drama)
The best dramas list for the Globes – to be presented on 6 January – contains something notable yet hardly noted. It puts African American-themed films in the majority: three out of five. Ryan Coogler’s colossally successful Afrofuturist Marvel superhero movie Black Panther, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Barry Jenkins’s James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. All three are really substantial movies, though I think Lee’s is tonally uncertain in a way that Jenkins’s and Coogler’s aren’t. It could well be that Beale Street will win, and no one would quarrel with rewarding the artistry and moral seriousness of a film-maker such as Jenkins. Bohemian Rhapsody – the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen – is a surprise entry: thoroughly enjoyable but very much all about Rami Malek’s bravura performance. But I have to say that Bradley Cooper’s richly powerful and unashamedly emotional melodrama A Star Is Born gets my support — and I suspect that of Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) voters as well.
Will win: A Star Is Born
Should win: A Star Is Born
Shoulda been a contender: Roma
Best film (musical or comedy)
Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite has dominated the critical conversation since its premiere at Venice this summer. I think it will have landslide success at the Baftas, but it is likely to do very well at the Globes. It is my favourite from this list, and Olivia Colman gives a great performance (see below). Having said this, the specious sugary unoriginality of Mary Poppins Returns could well beguile the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the awards. Crazy Rich Asians was a very entertaining picture and it’s certainly in with a shout. The arguably liberal-pious black/white balance of Green Book might mean that it is received with respect but not excitement. Adam McKay’s Vice is the fifth film on the list: a very lively and well-acted movie about the former US vice president Dick Cheney. It has caused wrinkled critical noses here and there, and I am apparently in a minority in preferring it to his bafflingly overpraised previous film The Big Short.
Best actor (drama)
This is a slightly conservative selection, but the inclusion of Rami Malek’s extravagant portrayal of Freddie Mercury is a shrewd move and my guess is that it will win (although gender politics is a point at issue here – singalong feelgood movies are acceptable when they are about men, but why don’t the Mamma Mia! movies get the same breaks?) John David Washington’s performance in BlacKkKlansman is impressive but the film’s quasi-Brechtian alienations and comic cartoonery arguably mean that it is more difficult to engage with his character emotionally. Willem Dafoe’s performance as Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate has all the integrity and self-possession you would expect, but it’s a rather non-envelope-pushing film. Lucas Hedges (last seen in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea) stars in the gay conversion drama Boy Erased, but this might be a fish-in-a-barrel liberal issue film that will leave the HFPA unmoved. My feeling is still that Bradley Cooper’s performance is the best.
Will win: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born
Shoulda been a contender: Ethan Hawke for First Reformed
Best actress (drama)
This has to be Glenn Close’s year. I am almost at a hat-eating state of utter certainty about it. Her performance in The Wife is a fascinatingly subtle, complex and forthright portrayal that doesn’t offer itself up all at once to the viewer: the story of the “literary wife”, the spouse of the Nobel prize-winning novelist who has had to hide her own light under a bushel. Lady Gaga gives us an unexpected howitzer of a performance in A Star Is Born, but I think it doesn’t quite match what Close is doing. Melissa McCarthy is a comic performer whose pathos in Can You Ever Forgive Me? has been much admired. Nicole Kidman and Rosamund Pike, in Destroyer and A Private War, are both offering a kind of movie machismo: roles in which their natural beauty is roughened up. Bold choices, certainly, but I think they are long shots. I very much missed Viola Davis on this list.
Best actor (musical or comedy)
The race is wide open here. It could be that industry sentimentality and nostalgia will gift this prize to Robert Redford for his farewell performance in The Old Man & the Gun, but the truth is that his performance is a bit waxworky. In some ways, he’s more of a lifetime-achievement candidate, but the Globes have already given him their Cecil B DeMille award in 1994. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Dick Van Dyke 2.0 performance in Mary Poppins Returns is forgettable and my feeling is that Viggo Mortensen’s contribution to Green Book, though that of a very intelligent actor, will not capture the HFPA’s imagination. Which leaves us with Christian Bale’s very exhilarating and theatrical impersonation of Dick Cheney. I like that, but I admired John C Reilly’s heartfelt portrayal of Oliver Hardy more. Really, Steve Coogan’s Stan Laurel should be there alongside him.
Will win: Christian Bale for Vice
Should win: John C Reilly for Stan & Ollie
Shoulda been a contender: Steve Coogan for Stan & Ollie
Best actress (musical or comedy)
Fifteen-year-oldElsie Fisher might actually pinch this one for her performance in the widely enthused-over Eighth Grade, and Charlize Theron is also a serious contender for her interesting turn in the flawed Tully, scripted by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman. For me, Emily Blunt is out of the running for her unrelaxed performance in Mary Poppins, which though studied and stylish, comes close to how Kate McKinnon would play the role in an SNL sketch. No, for me the frontrunner in both the Will win and Should win categories is the glorious performance from Olivia Colman: comic, and yet tragic, a portrayal of political tyranny and emotional victimhood.
Will win: Olivia Colman for The Favourite
Should win: Olivia Colman for The Favourite
Shoulda been a contender: Aubrey Plaza for An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn
Best supporting actor
This list was notable for its absences. I have noted Brian Tyree Henry below, but there was also his Widows co-star Daniel Kaluuya, Tim Blake Nelson from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Sam Elliott from A Star Is Born and Jonathan Pryce from The Wife. Timothée Chalamet’s performance in the father-son addiction memoir Beautiful Boy has been successful, but not in the league of his breakthrough in Call Me By Your Name; Adam Driver does solid but basically unexciting work in BlacKkKlansman; and Mahershala Ali commands respect in Green Book (and may get the prize). Sam Rockwell is amusing as Dubya in Vice, but he’s really all about the latex. I have a good feeling about Richard E Grant as Jack Hock, the somewhat pathetic friend and enabler of Melissa McCarthy’s literary forger in Can You Ever Forgive Me? It would be great to see Grant win a Globe.
Will win: Richard E Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Should win: Richard E Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Shoulda been a contender: Brian Tyree Henry for Widows
Best supporting actress
This category is also wider open than first appears. The Favourite is a great film, and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are great in their supporting roles but it is surely all about Olivia Colman’s toweringly mad star turn. Claire Foy does an honest job with the boring role of Neil Armstrong’s wife in First Man (he’s kind of boring, too, but he gets to go to the moon). The delicacy and intelligence of Regina King as Tish’s mother in If Beale Street Could Talk is very impressive and I sense that she will inch it over Stone and Weisz, along with Amy Adams’s serio-comic barnstormer as Dick Cheney’s formidable wife, Lynne. I would have liked to see a posthumous award for the veteran Japanese actress Kirin Kiki who was wonderful in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters.
Will win: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Shoulda been a contender: Kirin Kiki for Shoplifters
Here is the big prize, and again it’s a mystery that Steve McQueen’s masterly direction of his heist thriller Widows was not rewarded in this category. Adam McKay (Vice) and Peter Farrelly (Green Book) are, interestingly, comedy people who have moved away from comedy – though I won’t say up from comedy. Spike Lee’s direction of BlacKkKlansman was eye-catching and brilliant in many ways and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get this. But Roma, which was unaccountably left off the best drama list, is a wonderful directing achievement for Alfonso Cuarón, and he really should get the award. However, Bradley Cooper’s direction of A Star Is Born is resoundingly good and that might go down easier with the HFPA.
Will win: Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón for Roma
Shoulda been a contender: Steve McQueen for Widows
This is another Globe that Cuarón should get, perhaps to make up for the shame of not being nominated for best film – but Roma is a fascinatingly written movie, bearing the signs of having been crafted and developed over many years. Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara may well win for their scabrous, hilarious and very sweary script for The Favourite – clearly a labour of love. Adam McKay’s wacky, self-aware script for Vice was amusing, although would have meant less without Bale’s bravura performance. Again, this is a category where I was aware of the snubs. It would have been great to see Bart Layton rewarded here for American Animals, but I felt more intensely still the absence of Rupert Everett for his searing Oscar Wilde drama The Happy Prince.
Will win: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara for The Favourite
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón for Roma
Shoulda been a contender: Rupert Everett for The Happy Prince.