The Golden Globes are one of the most elite awards on the calendar, voted for by an invitation only membership of just a few hundred known as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Despite its limited population and heavy criticism surrounding its legitimacy – the HFPA themselves embrace open ridicule on their telecasts – they are still one of the most influential awards of the year.
Some awards are great indicators of Academy Awards. Take the guilds – the Producers Guild of America has predicted every Best Picture winner for almost a decade, but let’s not mistake foresight for influence. The PGA membership overlaps considerably with the producers branch of the Academy, so a correlation should be expected. However, the Golden Globes have an uncanny ability to reshape the entire race with one surprise result – this makes them a big influencer.
Prior to this year, the Academy Award nominations were traditionally announced the week before the Golden Globes ceremony. As such, many awards critics had a three day nerdgasm, feverishly comparing the two to pinpoint the main contenders.
In 2013, following the Academy’s inexplicable snubbing of Ben Affleck for both a leading actor and directing nomination, Argo was not considered a substantial threat to then frontrunners Lincoln, Les Miserables and Life of Pi. However, the film won both for best drama and best director, stunning everyone in the process and turning the awards race on its head.
From that point on Argo stormed the best picture race, winning most major trophies on its way to a Best Picture Oscar. Only three films in history have won the Academy’s top prize without a nomination for its director.
The Golden Globes were a pivotal moment that gave Argo the credibility and plausibility it needed to win other major awards. 2013 is a great example of timing – with nominations just announced and final ballots still fresh from the post, putting such an important spotlight on Argo had a dramatic effect on voters. However, this is historically a very extreme scenario and not in line with a typical awards season.
The following year was a lot more traditional, in terms of the relationship between the HFPA and Academy. 12 Years a Slave was a frontrunner ever since Toronto the previous August, so its inevitable success here was of no particular significance. In 2014 it was the acting categories where the Golden Globes carried the most influence.
Let’s not pretend that there some miraculous underdog story at play, but it was certainly a close three horse race between Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). Ejiofor had poignancy on his side – a slave film with much resonance at a time when America was midway through its first black Presidency. DiCaprio put in the most spectacular performance, in terms of grandiosity, and was already considered horrendously overdue for an Oscar. McConaughey was the reformed rom-com actor on a critically acclaimed comeback – not a rare Oscar-winning story, but not a runaway favourite by any means.
The Golden Globes cemented both McConaughey and Jared Leto as the ones to beat, and again timing is key. There are dozens of critics and festival awards leading up to the new year, and these certainly narrow the field of major contenders, but the Globes offer a potent combination of a big global audience and the perfect timing.
The correlation is not infallible, but there is a lot to be said for the impact a Golden Globes win can have on a film’s Oscar campaign. The reputational reward offers a major incentive to Academy voters, though many other factors can come into play.
2017 will continue to be dominated by diversity with two binary opposite front-runners in the shape of Moonlight and La La Land. Interestingly, this year both films will pick up a top prize, and though statisticians would favour the chances of Moonlight – winning drama over comedy/musical – this weekend’s Globes results will perfectly surmise the season so far while providing a useful steer in hard fought categories, as it always does.
This year could also have a much more direct impact on the Oscar nominees, with the ballots still open. Though previously there was always a decent parallel between the two, we can perhaps expect to see all the major category winners feature among the Academy’s roll call, therefore mitigating a repeat of 2013.
The major categories are not expected to surprise this year. If anything, because of the vast differences between the two biggest films, the results will be more polarised than ever before, making the Oscars one of the toughest to call in years.
The 2017 Golden Globes are being broadcast live on NBC on Sunday 8th January 2017, hosted by Jimmy Fallon and we will all the results right here.