Like Robert De Niro’s character in “The Irishman,” the Golden Globes have matured.
Although the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has showed sound judgment in the Motion Picture Drama categories for a while now, with Musical or Comedy films, they had remained a 17-year-old nursing his fourth cup of jungle juice.
Over the past decade, they’ve given such crapola as “Burlesque,” “Spy” and “The Greatest Showman” nods as the Best Picture of the year. Excuse me, sir, can you walk in a straight line?
But this year the HFPA has sobered up. The 2020 Golden Globe nominations were announced Monday — and they are the decade’s best.
The Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy category was a wholly respectable slate of acclaimed films: “Dolemite Is My Name,” “Once Upon A Time In . . . Hollywood,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Knives Out” and “Rocketman.” Any of those would be comfortable in the Best Picture field at the Oscars.
But to reach this higher plane of consciousness, like Robert De Niro’s character in “The Irishman,” the freewheeling voting body had to become a hitman. Its first mark: those Jellicle “Cats.”
The film version of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical hit is tailor-made for the Globes. Better yet, it’s Taylor-made. The movie, out Dec. 20, features Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench and James Corden as singing, dancing feline-human hybrids. I’ve surely just described the erotic fantasy of many a Latvian reporter. But the international nominators suppressed their baser instincts and gave “Cats” just one nod: Best Song for Swift’s “Beautiful Ghosts.”
The HFPA also offed . . . Robert De Niro, exposing the first major weakness of Scorsese’s mob epic, which has already won top honors from the National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle. De Niro’s role as fixer Frank Sheeran is less showy than his nominated co-stars, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, but most pundits assumed the movie’s momentum would earn him a courtesy slot. It didn’t, and now Noah Baumbach’s not-at-all-epic “Marriage Story” leads the pack with six nominations, including acting nods for Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The Best Motion Picture — Drama category also includes “1917,” “Joker” and “The Two Popes.”
Speaking of size, there was zilch for “Avengers: Endgame,” which, since being released in April, has become the highest-grossing film of all time. Last year’s nominations for “Black Panther” at the Globes and Oscars gave Marvel fans hope that the studio’s best films would continue to have a formidable awards season life. Instead, this year the Globes went wild for Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” which aimed higher and artfully did away with the usual comic book conventions.
What other corpses will the cops be outlining in chalk on Hollywood Boulevard today? Director Clint Eastwood, whose “Richard Jewell” snagged just one acting nomination for Kathy Bates, was left off the field of heavyweights, such as Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sam Mendes, Bong Joon Ho and (less heavy) Todd Phillips. The very good “Little Women” also secured just a single nomination for its star Saoirse Ronan, but nothing for writer/director Greta Gerwig. I also hope that, come Oscars time, we see more recognition for Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical “Honey Boy.”
But for once, the snubs don’t indicate a lack of judgment on the part of the sometimes-cuckoo Golden Globes, but rather a top-notch year at the movies. The rise of Netflix (“The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “Dolemite Is My Name”) as a cinematic force, the inclusion of artful box-office hits (“Once Upon A Time In . . . Hollywood,” “Joker”) and must-see foreign films (“Parasite,” “Pain and Glory”) have us going out of the mostly meh 2010s with a bang.
Hold your head high, Golden Globes, for this time you are not an embarrassment, but an embarrassment of riches.
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