Like any “awards” program based on so-called subjective judgments, The Golden Globes’ track record is all over the place. Yet a quick glance at this year’s nominees for "Best Motion Picture — Drama" reveals a list that will likely align nicely with the Academy Awards' more predictable, prestige-laden fare.
David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is set to open on Christmas Day, is his most conventional film yet — an old-fashioned Gump-ian epic that builds momentum as it goes along but never quite penetrates as well as one might hope. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its charms, including an engrossing middle section — a short film in itself — with Brad Pitt’s monumentally odd lead character (who ages in reverse) engaging in a mysterious relationship with Tilda Swinton.
(Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
I’ve also already seen the four other nominees (Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road and Slumdog Millionaire), all of which are fine to strong but none of which rise to the level of “Best Motion Picture” of 2008.
I won’t even bother mentioning the truly galling omissions because there’s little chance such esoteric and/or challenging fare would have been on the Hollywood Foreign Press’ radar anyway. OK, yes I will: Where’s The Wrestler, Wendy and Lucy, Reprise, Momma’s Man or A Christmas Tale? Even Rachel Getting Married, The Visitor or Milk would have been better options than The Reader, a well-intended drama of modest impact. Oh, and Wall*E should have been elevated from "Best Animated Feature" to compete with the big boys. Meanwhile, I’m not nearly as upset (or surprised) as those causing a commotion about the omission of The Dark Knight. It got what it deserved: a supporting performance nod for Heath Ledger.
(Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight)
The “Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy” category is more of a mixed bag. While Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky is a welcomed sight, and I’m OK with In Bruges and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the inclusion of Burn After Reading strikes me as pretty ludicrous — it’s no better than the Coen brothers’ recent, irony-laced disappointments (No Country for Old Men excluded).
I’ve yet to catch Mama Mia!, but I can’t imagine it’s better than Pineapple Express, David Gordon Green’s hilarious lo-fi comedy that somehow snagged a deserved supporting nod (musical or comedy) for James Franco.
(Seth Rogen (left) and James Franco in Pineapple Express)
I’m fine with most of the other acting nominations — though the inclusion of Tom Cruise’s initially amusing, ultimately over-the-top caricature in Tropic Thunder indicates that the guy still has enormous power in Hollywood and beyond.