I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that winter is my favorite season. Seriously – ask any one of my friends what my favorite season is, and they’ll all say winter and then roll their eyes and probably call me stupid because I’m friends with terrible people who don’t understand what’s important in life. Christmas! Playing in snow! Bundling up on the couch under as many blankets as you can carry!
But of course, the real highlight of winter isn’t getting to feel warm and cozy every day. For film fans, the highlight of winter is awards season. Now, I’ve never been into sports, but I can only assume that the sense of competition one feels for their favorite movie of the year, and the impassioned arguments they make for why that film deserves to win everything, is something only sports fans can share. Seriously – the combative nature of The Social Network fans vs. The King’s Speech fans at the 2011 Oscars is a war not unlike the one waged between Duke and Butler fans in 2009 (according to my friend Scott, who knows about such things).
Awards season is the most important time of the year for me. Of course, we all know these award shows are massively flawed, for so many reasons. The number one is that it’s just impossible to recognize all of the films that deserve recognition. And how do you define that recognition? Is the best movie the one that performed the best at the box office, or the one that stayed in theatres the longest? Or the one that got the most positive reviews? It’s impossible to qualify that, but even without a clear definition, it’s obvious that 2014 was a great year for film. Sure, not everything was memorable, or particularly good, but it also gave us some instant classics that I have no doubt will be considered some of the greatest films ever made.
To prepare for the Golden Globes tonight, I requested the help of two of my friends to share their predictions. Chelsea and Craig, like myself, are recent college graduates, and in addition to our degrees in Media Production (Chelsea) and Film Studies (Craig and myself), we see a lot of movies. Like, a lot of movies. In fact, my friendship with both of them was basically built on the fact that we could have long, drawn out conversations about the tiniest nuances of filmmaking techniques. So when I started working on this post, I knew these idiots were the perfect people to ask for help.
So, without further ado, here are our picks for this year’s Golden Globe winners. I should note that this wasn’t done in any formal way; we weren’t necessarily sticking to the should win/will win formula; mostly, our intention was to pick winners based on the strengths of the films, performances, and the work. Our goal was to make predictions based on the technique – not which performances affected us most emotionally, but intellectually, based on the larger knowledge of film criticism we studied and apply to everything we watch. We’re also not covering everything – for one thing, this post is only covering the film nominees, and even then, only the big awards. We didn’t cover any of the technical awards, partially because categories like that are sometimes impossible to predict, and partially because we don’t have the knowledge required to make an educated guess (beyond the fact that Birdman will win for cinematography. I mean, obviously). So here they are, our best guesses at who will win the big awards tonight. And it goes without saying that all of these predictions are scientific and fact. After all, we have a degree in this.
BEST PICTURE – COMEDY
Into the Woods
Grand Budapest Hotel
CHELSEA: Birdman should and will win. It is a gamechanger for filmmakers and they’d be crazy not to recognize it. Into the Woods was my favorite experience in a theater this year. It was just so much fun, well-acted, and very well-made but unless Into the Woods pulls a Les Mis, I do not see how Birdman can lose. I would lose my shit (in a good way) if Pride snuck up & won it. Love a good underdog.
CRAIG: Birdman has the win. It’s essentially flawless from a technical and a narrative standpoint in its filmmaking. All of the attention its gotten will help, because the Golden Globes have a tendency to become a popularity contest, and an innovative film like this would be doomed unless people were tweaking out about it. Of course Birdman actually deserves all the attention, so that’s fun-fun. The Grand Budapest Hotel is starting to get attention again, but there hasn’t been enough talk to help it tonight, but it might become a serious threat by the time the Oscars roll around.
JAIME: I’m going to do my best from word vomiting about how much I love Pride (partially because I’m planning on writing a separate post about how much I love Pride, but mostly because I wouldn’t be able to stop myself), so suffice it to say that my should win is 1000000% Pride. It’s just such a gorgeous film with gorgeous characters that connected with me on a level that no other film this year did. But Birdman will win, and I won’t be mad about it at all. Birdman is just so different compared to every other film that came out this year, and the precision in its technique and craft is mindblowing. Birdman, hands down.
You know what’s truly amazing about this group of nominees? They’re all actually comedies. I mean, okay, Birdman maybe just barely qualifies, but I can’t think of any other year where the comedy nominees were actually all light-hearted, well-made films that, if not comedic, at least all had a sense of humor in the way it approached its subject matter. I’d be curious to look at how many nominees or winners of this category have gone on to win the Oscar; I could be totally wrong (and often am), but it feels like the edge usually goes to the drama*. After all, drama is serious, serious movies are good, right? The films classified as comedies are usually a weird mix of comedy and something else – drama, maybe, or biopics, or…something. But this group of nominees feels like the first time that filmmakers let themselves be unapologetically happy in their film’s tones and message. 2014 proved that you don’t need to be dour to make an amazing and unforgettable film.
CHELSEA: Agreed. It is so refreshing to see actual comedies in this category. Even Into the Woods is a comedy and musical and Birdman is a dark comedy. I do wish Obvious Child or 22 Jump Street had made the cut on this instead of St. Vincent.
*I looked it up: since 2000, only two films won the Oscar for Best Picture after being nominated for Best Comedy at the Globes – Chicago in 2002 and The Artist in 2011. I was right, as per usual, carry on.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY:
CONSENSUS: Michael Keaton
CHELSEA: Keaton. This is no competition. Batman is gonna take the gold.
JAIME: Completely. For as thrilled as I am that Ralph Fiennes was nominated, there’s no way this isn’t going to be Keaton.
CHELSEA: Aside from Keaton, this category completely bores me. Where is Bill Hader? Channing Tatum? James Corden?
JAIME: Yeah, that’s a huge problem with this category, despite what I said above about how much freer the comedy category is at the Globes. It’s still not totally representative of the majority of films being made, and I think that stands out a lot more for comedies than it does drama. Like, what are the majority of comedies being released? Things like 22 Jump Street and Neighbors. The films in this category are in such a weird class all on their own, and just make that divide between movies and Very Important Movies that much bigger. It’s especially annoying when some of the nominees here are the only nominations their films received. Like, why are you here, Joaquin Phoenix? What is your purpose, except to annoy me?
CRAIG: Michael Keaton. End of discussion.
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
CONSENSUS: Eddie Redmayne
CHELSEA: Eddie Redmayne should and will take it. He kept so much of the humor and humanity of this character. He said so much with his eyes and it was just beautiful to watch.
JAIME: Absolutely agree. These five performances were probably some of the best performances of the last few years, but Eddie Redmayne was just on such a different level than anyone else. And his film just demanded something different from him that the other nominated films didn’t even get close to. The way isolated parts of his face would twitch when he was trying to communicate? Shut up, Eddie Redmayne.
CHELSEA: I’m surprised they didn’t jump on the opportunity to honor Ben Affleck for Gone Girl. Argo was a huge hit just a couple years ago here and he gave one of his best performances under the guidance of Fincher.
JAIME: I definitely could see him being nominated but then again, I can’t really look at this list and knock someone off. Maaaaybe Steve Carell, when compared to the other nominees, and the fact that Foxcatcher was boring as shit, but I do still think he deserves to be nominated. It was a super tough year, and it’s the same thing with the supporting categories where I can think of five more names for each category that could be nominated, but the categories are so strong that there’s really no filler.
CRAIG: This is a tough category. 2014 was an incredible year for strong male performances, and I would love to see every single one of them get an award of some kind. I’ve always loved Jake Gyllenhaal, and his turn as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler genuinely disturbed me, much in the way that Steve Carrell did in Foxcatcher. For a comedic actor of his caliber to go that dark is incredibly impressive, and who doesn’t love a great transformation like that? However, speaking of transformations, nothing could top Eddie Redmayne. He BECAME Stephen Hawking, and as much as David Oyelowo made me believe that he was MLK, I totally forgot that Redmayne WASN’T the actual Stephen Hawking while watching The Theory of Everything. You go, Marius.
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY:
CONSENSUS: Emily Blunt
CHELSEA: Emily Blunt should and will win. Globes love musicals, Into the Woods has made a ton of money so far, and the rest of the nominees are totally forgettable.
JAIME: I don’t know, though. I mean, okay, obvious caveat here, I hate Emily Blunt and am totally biased. And Into the Woods is the only one of the nominated films in this category that I’ve seen, so I can’t really point to a person that I think should win, but I just don’t think Emily Blunt’s performance (or more accurately, her role) was enough for me to say she should win. The Baker’s Wife was essential to the film, but it was so much more of an ensemble that she’s not in a huge position to cause change or conflict. I just feel like there’s been a more important performance, or a meatier role, that’s deserving. I do think, just based on their stature and the conversations surrounding the films themselves, that this category will probably be between Emily Blunt and Amy Adams, but not having seen Big Eyes, I can’t say whether or not Amy Adams should win (but Amy Adams is a national treasure, so she should win everything).
CHELSEA: I still have zero interest in seeing Big Eyes. Maybe if it hits Netflix or Amazon next year I’ll catch it. I can never hate Amy Adams winning. She took this category last year when the competition was a lot better. This year it just feels light with Mirren and Wallis. Kristen Wiig for Skeleton Twins and Jenny Slate for Obvious Child would really spice up this category.
JAIME: I totally agree. And it’s annoying, because, unlike with other categories, there is total filler here, and Wallis and Mirren being nominated just feels like they’re going for nominating popular actresses and films rather than what deserves to be here. One of the first things I said after I saw The Skeleton Twins was “This is such a Globes movie.” I definitely could have seen Kristen Wiig getting a nomination, but they dropped the ball, as they so often do. And it’s especially annoying because this problem almost never happens in male categories. And there are totally enough strong female performances to fill out these categories; they just don’t nominate people who deserve to be here, so that sense of competition is completely gone.
CRAIG: Having only seen Into the Woods so far, I’ll be rooting for Emily Blunt. Which I’m more than comfortable with, because she gave a solid performance as the Baker’s Wife. Julianne Moore has been having a good year in pop culture, though, and Amy Adams is always a threat. Then you’ve got Helen Mirren, who could win simply because she’s Helen Mirren. We shall see.
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
CHELSEA: I am so torn about this category. I think Julianne Moore will win because she’s overdue. I have the Still Alice screener to watch. I have yet to see Cake until I get a screener. Pike, Witherspoon, & Jones are all so good in their respective roles. Pike completely had me cheering for her psychopath and empathizing with her struggles. Witherspoon showed a new side of herself that was messy and it was refreshing to see her in a role that didn’t support some guy. Jones took what could’ve been a role supporting a man & made it about this woman’s struggles to take care of him while wanting to lead her own life. She was a partner to Redmayne and not an afterthought. I loved watching them fall in and out of love yet still respect each other. Pulling for Jones or Pike as of today.
JAIME: I probably won’t get to see Still Alice, Wild, and Cake until after the Globes, but I think Felicity Jones gave the performance of the year (at least, in the films that I’ve seen). It’s exactly like you said: she was a partner to Eddie Redmayne, and I think her presence is what kept the film from being just a straightforward biopic. Jane gave the film’s narrative structure and resonance. And that for me is one of the biggest things when I’m making my picks for who should win an award – for me, the relevance of a character to the film is huge (see: why I’m not totally onboard with choosing Emily Blunt). And Jane was absolutely the heart of this movie, and Felicity Jones just portrayed her brilliantly. That said, it doesn’t seem like she’s been getting the attention she deserves. The focus has been moreso on Eddie Redmayne and Stephen Hawking. So while I’m rooting for Felicity Jones, I feel like it’s going to go to Reese Witherspoon. Lord knows the Globes love a good comeback story.
CHELSEA: I feel like Julianne will get it just for the overdue factor. She’s also nominated in comedy for Maps to the Stars. People finally want to honor her after years of overlooking her amazingness. I can’t say anything for or against her personally until I watch my Still Alice screener this week. I wish this category was big enough to include Shailene Woodley for TFIOS, Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin, or Mia Wasikowska for Tracks. There were so many great leading ladies this year.
CRAIG: It would be very sad if Felicity Jones didn’t win, as she was such a convincing counterpart to Eddie Redmayne’s Hawking. But it might be one of those situations where her performance was so subtle and so on point that she’ll be overlooked. I haven’t seen Wild, but critics are losing their minds over Reese Witherspoon. However, it IS the year of Julianne Moore, so she might have the edge. And I can’t say I would be mad if Rosamund Pike got the trophy, because I don’t think anyone else could have embodied Amy Elliot Dunne and pulled off charming psychopath like she did. And Jennifer Aniston could win due to the novelty of it all, but I don’t think enough people have seen Cake that she has the strongest chance. In short, I have no idea whatsoever.
JAIME: Yeah, it’s definitely going to be strange. But strange in the way where anyone could win, so I can’t really get too attached to the idea of one of them winning, because it seriously could go in any direction. It’s also got a lot working against it in that none of these films are really the big attention-grabbers of the year, so the influence of the films themselves don’t really give anyone an edge.
CONSENSUS: JK Simmons
JAIME: If JK Simmons isn’t a lock for the Globe and the Oscar, I’m going to have to reevaluate everything I know about film. Everyone nominated gave an amazing, captivating performance, and in any other year, I’d be pulling for Ethan Hawke or Edward Norton. But JK Simmons just went to an entirely different place in Whiplash. He was dangerous one second and soothing the next – I had absolutely no idea how I felt about him, because when the character wanted to be hated, the audience hated him. When the character wanted to be trusted, the audience trusted him. It was just such brilliant, subtle work that wasn’t matched by anyone else.
CHELSEA: JK Simmons is guaranteed a win here. Nobody has as commanding a performance that covered as much range as him. The nuance that went into him terrifying the audience one moment and making us sympathize with him the next. He manipulated the audience just as much as miles Teller. Papa MacGuff crushed it. I would not be mad to see Ethan Hawke take it though. Watching him grow as a father and his relationship with the kids and his ex-wife develop was a pleasure to see.
JAIME: Yeah, I think any other year, this would be an amazingly tight race between Ethan Hawke and Edward Norton, and that’s one of the drawbacks of having so many great films come out in the same year. I am surprised that Mark Ruffalo’s in this category – he was good, but the more impressive work in Foxcatcher was definitely Channing Tatum. He and Robert Duvall feel a little bit like filler, just to round out the category, which seems unnecessary when there were so many deserving performances this year.
CONENSUS: Patricia Arquette
JAIME: I’m kind of torn here because I want Boyhood to win all of the awards, but Keira Knightley was also brilliant, but Emma Stone was also brilliant. And then of course, Meryl is Meryl. I think this might be the one category where there’s absolutely no filler – every woman nominated here gave a ridiculously strong, powerful performance, filled with subtlety and layers and the ability to connect with audiences immediately. But even though they were all on the same level of greatness, they all communicated different things. Because of that, I don’t think I can pick just one person who should win. I think ultimately it’ll go to Meryl, because she’s Meryl, and she was truly great. Plus, the Globes do love musicals, and if (in the perfect world I’ve imagined) Emily Blunt doesn’t win, I can’t see the film not winning something, considering its shockingly strong ensemble cast of A+ actors.
CHELSEA: Patricia Arquette will win this award if all the critics precursors are any indication. I saw Boyhood four times in theaters and each viewing convinced me that she is going to win. Her journey was unlike any other as the film is essentially her as a mother and her choices through the eyes of her son. This category is packed with wonderful women and you could easily nominate 5 more. Chastain always has my vote and Streep out Streep’d herself this year as the Witch. I’ve had Last Midnight on repeat since Christmas and had Les Mis and Anne Hathaway not won just two years ago, Streep would be sweeping it this year. Truly the best category this year. And I really thought some of the ladies of Gone Girl would’ve shown up here. Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon are just as deserving as Stone. Lorelei Linklater is the ultimate snub though. She deserves far more love than she’s gotten for Boyhood.
JAIME: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it and I think I officially change my vote to Patricia Arquette. It’s just such a difficult category, and I think it just goes to show how interesting this year was. A lot of times, the female races aren’t as competitive as the male races – you’ll have a few women nominated who definitely deserve to be there, and then sometimes it feels like they picked people at random just for the sake of filling out the category. It speaks hugely to the status of women in film, and the sorts of roles that are out there for them. A lot of female nominees often play a character who happened to be there, rather than a strong woman without whom the story couldn’t work. But this is probably the strongest category at the Globes this year, because every single woman gave such a strong performance, and was so vital to the overall impactfulness of the film itself. And like you said, I can definitely think of more women who deserve to be here, but saying that, for once, isn’t a complaint.
CHELSEA: Yes, like Anna Kendrick in Into the Woods. Her arc is the most complete and she gave such a nuanced performance as this woman torn between two worlds. We all know she I’m basically in love with her but she really is the heart and soul of the film. I wish she was a part of this category but I completely understand why she didn’t make the cut.
Wes Anderson – Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
CONSENSUS: Richard Linklater
JAIME: The best director of my heart is and will always be Wesley Wales Anderson. And I’m waiting for the year when he gets the attention he deserves, because while Boyhood and Birdman made it clear on a more mainstream level just how vital film technique is, that’s been a cornerstone of Wes Anderson films since he began his career. But it was the year of Birdman and Boyhood, so I won’t be mad when either Iñárritu or Linklater wins – and it speaks to the brilliance of Iñárritu’s work that I don’t immediately consider Linklater a lock. But his work on Boyhood is completely unparalleled. It’ll be Linklater. I love you, Wes.
CHELSEA: Let us just take a moment to recognize that a woman is nominated. This rarely ever happens and it would be even better if she won. I do think it comes down to Linklater and Iñárritu. Both are showing how limitless film can be through their mind boggling styles. Linklater has always been fascinated with how time changes people (Before Trilogy) and he takes a simple story about an average American family and shows how even these simple things matter and carry so much weight in life. Iñárritu lets art imitate life with Michael Keaton and uses cinematography and editing to show this washed up actor’s descent into madness. Both men proved to be masters of their craft and I would be proud to see either of them take it.
CRAIG: Best Director is always a category that pains me, because it’s rare to find a year where all the nominees haven’t completed beautiful work. Oddly enough, this year I think we can easily roll out two of the contenders, who happen to be the biggest heavyweights, interestingly enough, and that’s Anderson and Fincher. Schwes was at his Schwes-iest with GBH, but it’s not going to be enough when you have Iñárritu’s ridiculously offensive cinematography and direction of Birdman, Linklater’s eight hundred year project Boyhood coming to fruition, and Ava DuVernay making waves with her flawless direction of Selma. She will probably stand a better chance at the Oscars as Selma picks up speed over the next few weeks. Linklater has the edge given his name is stronger in Hollywood circles that Iñárritu’s, so as impressive as the direction of Birdman was, I don’t think it can match Linklater’s juggernaut.
JAIME: Yeah, that’s the thing – I would be absolutely thrilled if Ava DuVernay won, or really if any of these nominees won. Literally every single one of them deserves it. But when you look at Boyhood, and how different yet still achievable it was, I can’t see this going to anyone but Linklater. That was my big thing last year with Gravity – for as brilliantly as it was made, I knew there was no way it would win Best Picture because it was just so different compared to the other nominees. The work, though gorgeous, was just too far in the opposite direction compared to everything else. This year, Boyhood and Birdman do that, too – the way they were made just created such different films that stand out so much. But they go the opposite way of Gravity, I think. Gravity showed what film technology is capable of, how innovative it can be. Birdman and Boyhood show how innovative you can be with storytelling and cinematography and directing – the very basic components of every film. They show just how exciting and compelling new twists on classic techniques can be, and for that, I think they’re going to prove to be hugely influential movies that actually will win the big awards (unlike Gravity) – that’s what I meant earlier when I called them “achievable”. Any director can make a film like Boyhood or Birdman, and I’m so excited to see them try.
Wes Anderson – Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – Birdman
Graham Moore – Imitation Game
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
JAIME: This is where I think Wes Anderson has a better shot. But Richard Linklater is still a very worthy opponent. I think the script of Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely worthy of winning, but the very nature of Boyhood, the fact that Linklater wrote the script in pieces each year based on what they’d shot, is so unique and commendable that he’s just as worthy of the award. Ultimately, I can’t choose between them, because that makes my heart hurt. I wouldn’t be mad either way, as a film fan, but emotionally, Wes Anderson always has my heart.
CHELSEA: This is where I really want Gone Girl to win. Gillian Flynn adapted her great book into an even better script. She kept the tension and the crazy in this perfectly paced film. Grand Budapest and Boyhood will give her a run for her money though. Anderson’s script is so methodically packaged and gives the audience wonderful closure. Boyhood was created over the course of 12 years and was crafted into the perfect coming-of-age story.
CRAIG: I’d like to see Gone Girl win, because it’s so rare that an author successfully adapts their novel into a screenplay, and if Gillian Flynn were to win tonight she could have a serious chance at the Oscars, where an author hasn’t won for adapting their own work since John Irving won for The Cider House Rules (1999). However, Anderson knocked it out of the park with Grand Budapest Hotel, in fact I’d say the writing was the strongest part of that movie, which gives him a good shot. Birdman could be a dark horse, and I would not be mad to see it win, but I think all three of these films have to find a way to topple Boyhood, which seems unlikely.
JAIME: It was tough for me to not count Birdman as a huge contender here, but ultimately I think the strength of Birdman isn’t in its screenplay. Which, obviously is not to say that it doesn’t have an amazingly strong script, but clearly its appeal is just in other areas. I think Flynn is a much stronger contender than my first comment may have suggested, but I also do think her chance of winning is going to be much, much stronger at the Oscars, when she won’t be going head-to-head with Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson. Adapted Screenplay is hers, no question. But here, I just think the attention will be on Linklater and Anderson.
So there they are, our picks for the 2015 Golden Globes. Share your picks, either below in the comments or on Twitter! And check back in a few weeks – after the Globes, SAGs, and BAFTAs, Craig, Chelsea, and I will be revisiting this post and updating our picks based on who wins at the other major award shows. Are you all as excited for awards season as we are? Who else can’t wait to see Birdman and Boyhood sweep?