Oscars 2015: Are the Golden Globes a Crystal Ball?
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Oscars 2015: Are the Golden Globes a Crystal Ball?

Hollywood has barely three days to recover from its Golden Globes hangovers before Wednesday morning’s announcement of this year’s Oscars nominations.

The Golden Globes have historically launched Hollywood’s award season and are considered a bellwether for pundits wishing to speculate on the big winners. The casual ceremony tends to be a better watch since celebrities are allowed to imbibe and there’s less of the inflated (and usually undeserved) seriousness that tends to flood the Oscars. But do the Globes actually mean anything?

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Looking at the history of the Globes vs. the Oscars is only somewhat helpful, partly because of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s decision to split its major awards into Comedy and Drama (though Supporting Actor/Actress and Screenplay awards are unified for some reason). This enables the Golden Globes to “hedge their bets” slightly, but even so the prediction rate is only about 60 percent. For instance, 18 of the last 30 Academy Awards Best Picture winners also won the Golden Globe (it should be noted that most of the deviations are recent).

Given that history, what can last night’s ceremony tell us about Wednesday’s nominations and February’s winners?

First and most obviously is the boost to Boyhood. Richard Linklater’s film was 12 years in the making and is almost universally adored. Linklater was something of Gen X icon in the ‘90s with his ground breaking first film, Slacker, and then Dazed and Confused, his ode to life in a small Texas town in 1976. Boyhood is exactly the sort of film that could take the cake this year. It’s technically ambitious, profound and ultimately life affirming. But then we said that about Gravity last year.

In much the same way that last year became a contest between the technical achievement of Gravity and the powerful social justice message of 12 Years a Slave, this year could see a similar battle between Boyhood and Selma.

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Additionally, there is the wild card of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. Though it was ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press, it still could garner an Oscar nomination, and it is the exact sort of “triumph of the human spirit” film that tends to do well with the slipping but still powerful boomer block of Academy voters.

As for the Best Comedy win for The Grand Budapest Hotel…yeah, you can ignore that.

At the end of the day, Selma doesn’t seem to have the groundswell of support that 12 Years did. It should be Boyhood’s year.

The tension is probably highest in the Best Actor category. With the possible wild card of David Oyelowo’s performance as Martin Luther King, Jr., the trophy will be handed to one of the two men who won last night: Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Will it be the beloved celebrity returning to the screen after a lengthy absence, or the hot young prospect in an absolutely Oscar-baiting performance? My money’s on Keaton.

If Best Actor is the hot contest, Best Actress is simply a wasteland this year. Julianne Moore and Amy Adams were the big winners last night for films that no one has seen. Both awards seemed to be for the women themselves rather than their work. (Given the Golden Globes’ focus on television, too, it was notable and disheartening to see the total dearth of strong roles on the big screen compared to those in the TV categories). Reese Witherspoon had the pre-season buzz, but her film, Wild, seems to have vanished without a whimper.

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For the supporting actor categories, both J.K. Simmons (who will win both for a masterful performance and for a career full of them) and Patricia Arquette (as part of the Boyhood machine) should repeat their wins.

Best Director is often an area where the Golden Globes and the Oscars don’t match up. The Best Director Oscar gets voted on only by Academy members in the Directors category, so the wins tend to be a little more inside baseball than even the Hollywood Foreign Press. Due to the rigors of his product and good will in the industry, Linklater should take the prize, as well as the one for Screenplay….though Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu could sneak in to win either.

Ultimately, we won’t know the final answers until Feb. 22, but last night’s ceremony at least gave us some sign posts to watch.

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