Golden Globes Analysis: What to Make of ‘Fabelmans,’ Austin Butler and ‘Banshees’ Wins, ‘Avatar’ Losses, More
The Golden Globe Awards — organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose broadcasting deal with NBC ended after the last award was presented on Tuesday night — are now homeless. Did their 80th ceremony set them up to find a new television home, or will their 81st, like this year’s SAG Awards, go untelevised?
Watching the show on TV like the rest of Hollywood’s awards correspondents — whom the HFPA decided to exclude from their event because they disliked our coverage of their recent controversies and blame it on our membership in the Critics Choice Association, which puts on the Critics Choice Awards — I felt like the show was hit and miss.
The host? Jerrod Carmichael reportedly was not the HFPA or NBC’s first choice, nor did he prove to be a good fit for the job. (That’s my opinion; you can read our TV critic’s review of the show here.) A soft-spoken guy in a notoriously boisterous ballroom, he began awkwardly with a seated half-reprimand of the HFPA, and then never really regained control, throwing in a few tasteless jokes (“the hotel that killed Whitney Houston“?) for good measure.
The winners? A highly diverse group, many were clearly popular choices in the room (especially The White Lotus’ Jennifer Coolidge, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Angela Bassett and Abbott Elementary and its creator-star Quinta Brunson), and the vast majority accepted their awards with only kind words for the HFPA, which must have been a relief (though The Banshees of Inisherin‘s Martin McDonagh attempted a dig at the group).
And the ratings? We’ll soon see, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. All awards shows — and virtually all TV programming aside from football — have had declining viewership in recent years. And the Tuesday night time-slot didn’t exactly set the show up for success.
Regardless of what happens to the Globes in the future, though, this year’s ceremony could have an impact on the Oscars, given that Oscar nomination voting begins in less than 48 hours, on Jan. 12, and will run through Jan. 17. Even though there’s virtually no overlap between the people who vote for the Globes and the people who vote for the Oscars (save for the 95-year-old actress/journalist Lisa Lu), many Academy members did watch the Globes telecast (I was in touch with several throughout and after the show), and many more will read about it — and the Academy does have a tendency to unimaginatively mirror many of the choices of the awards groups that precede it.
Given that, I thought I would highlight five film-related results from the Globes that were most notable to me, and might also be to Academy members:
1) The Fabelmans rallies
Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical film isn’t as edgy as Tár or as commercially successful as Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water or Elvis. But it’s the origin story of a master, it’s moving, and it’s probably the least divisive of any of those films, which might explain how it beat all of them to win best drama picture (a year after Spielberg’s West Side Story won best comedy picture) and how Spielberg won best director (for the first time since he won for Saving Private Ryan 24 years ago, the same year he last won a best director Oscar). It was a nice reminder to not take Spielberg for granted.
Also: one has to acknowledge that Avatar: The Way of Water is having a pretty bad week. After failing to make the BAFTA longlist for best film, it was just shut out at the Globes — which, 13 years ago, honored the original Avatar with its best drama picture prize, and its director, James Cameron, with best director.
2) Elvis’ Austin Butler pulls an upset
The 31-year-old breakout found himself in the spotlight with a best drama actor upset win over Brendan Fraser, who was the early frontrunner for his performance in The Whale. Granted, Fraser probably didn’t endear himself to the HFPA by publicly slamming them and boycotting their show in response to a sexual assault that he says he suffered at the hands of their former president, Philip Berk, years ago, so perhaps other voting bodies will treat him more kindly. But there might be more to this. Butler’s movie, unlike Fraser’s, was a huge commercial success, and received better reviews, too, and Hollywood loves a “star is born” narrative just as much as it loves a “comeback kid” narrative, if not more so.
In terms of the Globes’ recent history with performances in music-filled biopics, it’s interesting to note that they caused a false alarm when they honored Rocketman’s Taron Egerton (who then wasn’t even Oscar-nominated) three years ago — but did help to launch a successful march to the Oscars podium when, the year before that, they honored Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek (who, like Butler, but unlike Egerton, chose to compete for a music-filled biopic in the drama category, not the musical/comedy category).
(For more Butler content, I refer you to THR’s Actor Roundtable that posted Tuesday morning.)
3) Banshees leads the field
This dark and eccentric comedy was awarded the Venice Film Festival’s prizes for best actor (Colin Farrell) and best screenplay (McDonagh) back in September, and then was recognized with those same two honors on Tuesday night (Farrell for best musical/comedy actor, specifically), plus best musical/comedy picture. There’s an argument to be made that its humor plays better with non-Americans — who comprise the vast majority of the Globes electorate — than with Americans. But even so, a field-leading three wins is quite a statement.
(For more McDonagh content, I refer you to THR’s Writer Roundtable that posted in November.)
4) Everything Everywhere All at Once’s stars shine
The first award of the night was best supporting actor, presented to Ke Huy Quan, and less than an hour later came best musical/comedy actress, which went to Michelle Yeoh, meaning both members of the troubled couple at the center of A24’s all-time biggest hit went home with Globes. Both also gave heartfelt speeches about long rollercoaster careers, which undoubtedly endeared them to any Academy members who saw them. Quan has been the clear favorite in his Oscar race for a while already, but Yeoh is thought to be neck-and-neck with Tár‘’s Cate Blanchett. Blanchett won the best drama actress Globe on Tuesday, but was not in attendance to accept it. Advantage: Yeoh.
(For more Quan content, I refer you to THR’s Actor Roundtable that posted Tuesday morning.)
5) Upsets from abroad
On a night in which true surprises were few and far between on the film side of the ledger, two of the biggest upsets came from non-English-language films.
In the best non-English language film category, Argentina’s Argentina, 1985 — an Amazon-distributed legal thriller based on historical events — stunned Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front (the best international feature Oscar frontrunner and best picture contender from Netflix), India’s RRR (a huge blockbuster that was controversially not submitted for the best international feature Oscar) and Belgium’s Close and South Korea’s Decision to Leave (both Cannes-honored critics’ darlings). While this result is unlikely to recur on Oscar night, it certainly could help to put Argentina, 1985 over the top in terms of landing an Oscar nomination. (It’s currently thought to be on the bubble, behind All Quiet, Close, Decision to Leave and perhaps Poland’s EO and Ireland’s The Quiet Girl.)
Meanwhile, over in the best original song category, “Naatu Naatu,” the catchy Telugu-language tune at the center of a song-and-dance number in the Indian blockbuster RRR that has literally had moviegoers dancing in the aisles of cinemas around the world, beat English-language entries from A-listers Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. In years past, the HFPA would not have been able to resist the sort of star power of the pop stars. This year, though, Globes winners were determined by a roughly equal number of HFPA members and non-member voters, the latter a new addition to try to increase the diversity of the electorate, and comprised largely of journalists based outside of the U.S. I suspect that they helped to tip the scales in this contest.
(The HFPA, which presents the Golden Globes, is owned by Eldridge Industries. The Hollywood Reporter is owned by PME Holdings, LLC, a joint venture between Penske Media Corporation and Eldridge.)