Best Motion Picture – Drama
2. The Revenant
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
In spite of the lack of love for the film’s cast, this should be an easy victory for Spotlight, barring a Best Director win for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, which, coupled with the inevitable win for Leo in Best Lead Actor, could make The Revenant a force for the upset here. Had Mad Max garnered nominations for Charlize Theron and/or the film’s screenplay, it could have been a real threat here. Alas, the win here is unlikely, even if George Miller takes home the Directing prize. It is difficult to picture Carol or Room pulling the upset, considering the lack of nominations for Todd Haynes’ screenplay for the former or the latter’s MVP, Jacob Tremblay.
Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
1. The Martian
2. The Big Short
This, on the other hand, looks to be a close call. Just a month or two ago, it seemed The Martian was not only a shoo-in for this prize but could be a real threat for the Oscar Best Picture as well. Alas, that film garnered a rather early release back in early October and it is now The Big Short that sports all the buzz. I still say the Ridley Scott picture has the edge and Matt Damon is likely to prevail to boot, but the Adam McKay film is peaking at just the right time – when Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) members are staring at their ballots – and could ride its prime release date to victory. If Christian Bale pulls the upset early in the evening, you know what’s coming. Joy, Spy, and Trainwreck, all ignored beyond their leading ladies, are unlikely to have a prayer.
Best Leading Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
2. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
3. Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
4. Will Smith, Concussion
5. Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
To call this a slam dunk would be quite the understatement. This is the biggest lock of the night and it’s exceedingly difficult to make a case that any of the other four gentlemen can come close. I had thought perhaps Smith would prove the biggest threat, potentially pulling off what Sandra Bullock did with The Blind Side a few years back. Alas, Concussion fizzled. That probably leaves Fassbender, whose Steve Jobs also somewhat underwhelmed with audiences, the very distant runner-up.
Best Leading Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
1. Brie Larson, Room
2. Cate Blanchett, Carol
3. Rooney Mara, Carol
4. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
5. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Going all-in with the sports analogies, if Best Drama Actor is a slam dunk, Best Drama Actress is pretty much a jump ball between newcomer Larson and three-time Globe honoree Blanchett, and it isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility that one of the other three contenders pulls an upset. Such is probably hardest to imagine for Ronan, whose Brooklyn was otherwise ignored by the HFPA. Had Mara and Vikander garnered Supporting pushes here, as they are elsewhere, they, not Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kate Winslet, would’ve been the clear top two in that category. Alas, while they likely aren’t totally out of contention here, it’s hard to argue they’re as much leads as Larson and Blanchett. So, why Larson over Blanchett? As will be the case in the following category, I suspect Carol fans will ultimately split their votes between Blanchett and Mara, leaving Larson to prevail on top. But it’s a close call for sure.
Best Leading Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
1. Matt Damon, The Martian
2. Christian Bale, The Big Short
3. Steve Carell, The Big Short
4. Al Pacino, Danny Collins
5. Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear
First off, how strange that Pacino and Ruffalo, whose pictures and performances left hardly a dent with critics or audiences, managed to sneak in here over Robert De Niro, whose The Intern (directed by Nancy Meyers, who has delivered Globe nods to Mel Gibson, Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep) proved a sleeper fall hit. Those two, no doubt, have no chance. It is also a bit tough to see Carell prevailing, given most of his film’s recognition this awards season has gone to SAG nominee Bale. If anyone can lift himself above Damon here, it probably is Bale, but Damon should still have little trouble triumphing here, even if he winds up missing out on an Oscar nod down the line. He is the heart and soul of his picture, whereas Bale sits on the fence in terms of category placement and will also see some fans of The Big Short casting their votes for his co-star.
Best Leading Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
1. Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
2. Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
3. Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
4. Lily Tomlin, Grandma
5. Melissa McCarthy, Spy
This line-up, too, has a rather soft front-runner. I don't believe it's inconceivable for any of these five ladies to prevail, even McCarthy, whose Spy landed a surprising nod for Picture. Tomlin, who's a double-nominee this year (she's also up on the TV side for her underrated Netflix dramedy Grace and Frankie) won raves late this past summer for Grandma, her first big screen leading role since 1988's Big Business. Alas, therein lies the problem - Grandma garnered a relatively early release and has since been mostly forgotten this awards season. Smith, on the other hand, a three-time Globe winner, headlines a picture which won't open in the U.S. until after the Globes ceremony (it had a brief limited run in early December to qualify for the awards season). It seems a bit unlikely the Globes will crown someone whose picture has yet to be seen by hardly anyone domestically, but Smith has long been an awards favorite and her commitment to attending the ceremony after more than a decade of being a no-show - her last awards appearance in the U.S. was for Gosford Park back in 2002 - might move some voters. Also, she's the one non-American of the line-up and this is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, after all. If the Globes wish to recognize the year's biggest breakout star, Schumer may be able to pull it off. In fact, I probably would have predicted Schumer had she garnered a nomination for her screenplay as well. Alas, in the end, I see Lawrence as the safest bet. Joy didn't send a thrill up film critics' legs and, like last year's Amy Adams for Big Eyes, it is conceivable Lawrence misses out on an Oscar nomination. A Christmas release, however, it is peaking at the right time, will be fresh in voters' minds and the picture's decent box office numbers, in spite of the reviews, are a testament to the pull of Lawrence beyond just Hunger Games. I suspect she'll have that same pull with the HFPA, which has shown a penchant for rewarding young, hot box-office superstars time and again. But really, anyone can win this thing.
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1. Sylvester Stallone, Creed
2. Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
3. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
4. Paul Dano, Love and Mercy
5. Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
So much for an exciting barn burner between Spotlight co-stars Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. This, like other acting categories at this year's ceremony, might well have a mild front-runner, but it really could go several ways. The odd man out is probably Shannon, whose turn in 99 Homes has this season resonated with critics but seems unlikely to go all the way with the likes at the HFPA. In spite of an early June release date, Love and Mercy's Dano has been a real factor this awards season - and deservedly so. He's arguably his film's lead and the Original Song nom for Brian Wilson suggests some healthy support here for the picture. Rylance, who's double-nominated this year (on the TV side with Wolf Hall), seems to be the only thing voters at any awards this season recall fondly enough about Bridge of Spies to recognize. Elba, who finally appears to have scored a big screen breakthrough after years of being merely a potential star, is also double-nominated (on the TV side with Luther, in the same category as Rylance). It won't be terribly surprising if any of Elba, Rylance or Dano prevail. They're almost interchangeable, in my opinion. I suspect, however, it is Stallone who topples them all. Stallone came roaring out of the starting gates this awards season with a Best Supporting Actor victory at the National Board of Review. Then, Creed defied expectations and soared at the box office. Stallone, who's more or less been slumming it in recent years with his Expendables series and films like Grudge Match and Bullet to the Head, won raves nobody could've expected. And I think an organization like the HFPA, which loves its stars and box-office blockbusters, will be especially interested in finally giving Stallone an award for this role. He's no lock and isn't even a sure bet for an Oscar nod, but Stallone simply stands out in a line-up of otherwise-obscure performance.
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
2. Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
3. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
4. Jane Fonda, Youth
5. Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Fonda and especially Mirren, forget it. From there, though, this one's a toughie, mostly because Rooney Mara and Vikander (for The Danish Girl) garnered Lead pushes here. Leigh seemed a threat for the Oscar win early on, given the picture's hype and her victory at the National Board of Review. Alas, reviews for the picture ended up more mixed than expected and Leigh's performance has seemed especially divisive. She could pull it off, given the weakness of the category, but it seems unlikely she can do it if prior Tarantino ladies Uma Thurman and Pam Grier, who received better reviews, couldn't. I ultimately think this category comes down to one question - will the Globes reward Vikander for Ex Machina, when they really mean to reward her for The Danish Girl? Something of a consolation prize for inevitably losing in Lead. It could happen, but I'd feel more comfortable about going that route if her film had garnered any other recognition. Instead, much like Lawrence, I suspect Winslet surprises everyone, on name recognition. Winslet has three of these bad boys under her belt (Globes that is, not Martin Lawrence/Will Smith or the Three Amigos) and has managed nominations for dreck like Labor Day and Carnage. She's clearly a favorite of the HFPA and, even though Steve Jobs has generally underperformed in almost regard and it seems supremely improbable she can win the Oscar, I suspect the unique nature of the category, where the two front-runners are absent due to category issues, will allow an also-ran like Winslet to come through.
1. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
3. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
4. Ridley Scott, The Martian
5. Todd Haynes, Carol
Expect Scott and Haynes to sit on the sidelines here. McCarthy seems well-positioned to perhaps pull a Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) at the Oscars and ride his film's Best Picture win to a Best Director win to boot, but such an event probably isn't terribly likely here. The HFPA tends to reward the grander and more epic over the small-scale in this category - i.e. winners like James Cameron for Avatar and Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, neither of who took home the Oscar - which is why I suspect this goes to MIller or Inarritu instead. A case could certainly be made for Inarritu here, especially since he didn't win here for Birdman last year, but Miller seems to have the big mo' here, even though his film came out ages ago.
1. Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
2. Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs
3. Adam McKay & Charles Randolph, The Big Short
4. Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
5. Emma Donoghue, Room
The Globes have a penchant for occasionally veering outside-the-box in this category - see winners like Up in the Air, The Queen, About Schmidt and The People vs. Larry Flynt - but if Spotlight is to win Best Picture here, it will likely need some sort of complimentary prize and this, not Best Director, is where that's likeliest to happen. Can't count out possible Musical/Comedy Picture-winner The Big Short or the screenwriting awards-devouring juggernaut that is Sorkin, but Spotlight seems a safer bet here than a lot of soft front-runners at this year's Globes.
Best Animated Feature
2. Inside Out
3. Shaun the Sheep Movie
4. The Peanuts Movie
5. The Good Dinosaur
This one's an all-around coin flip between two uber-critically acclaimed animated features, one (Anomalisa) super-small-scale but garnering a release at just the right time, and one a Pixar blockbuster (Inside Out) that came out quite a while ago but may still have enough juice to prevail. I'm going with the former, mostly because I expected Inside Out to garner a nod for Michael Giacchino's original score and that wasn't the case.
Best Foreign Language Motion Picture
1. Son of Saul
2. The Brand New Testament
3. The Fencer
4. The Club
Second only to DiCaprio, Son of Saul is probably the biggest lock of the night. It's tough to really make any case for the other four or argue one is ahead of the other.
Best Original Score
1. Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
2. Alexandre Desplat, The Danish Girl
3. Carsten Nicolai & Ryuichi, The Revenant
4. Carter Burwell, Carol
5. Daniel Pemberton, Steve Jobs
This, on the other hand, could go a number of ways, although it seems highly unlikely to go the way of Pemberton's clever but super-subtle Steve Jobs composition. I have a gut feeling Desplat will be going home with the Oscar but Morricone, who has won here twice and struck out every time at the Oscars (sans an honorary prize back in 2007) seems like a very plausible winner, a legend who's made quite the domestic comeback with one of his best scores to date. Can't count out The Revenant or Carol here, though, depending on just how head-over-heels the HFPA goes for those two pictures (my hunch is they won't be that super-enamored).
Best Original Song
1. Writing’s on the Wall from Spectre
2. One Kind of Love from Love and Mercy
3. See You Again from Furious 7
4. Love Me Like You Do from Fifty Shades of Grey
5. Simple Song #3 from Youth
This, too, is an awfully tough call and I believe also mostly a four-contender race (sorry, Youth). The Furious 7 and Fifty Shades of Grey were both massive Billboard hits, but hail from films the HFPA may not want to be bestowing a Golden Globe upon. Not that this stopped them from rewarding the likes of Burlesque and Kate and Leopold in this category, of course. I suspect there are really three tiers here, and the Spectre and Love and Mercy songs sit on the first. Rewarding the legendary Brian Wilson may prove tough to resist, but his song has inexplicably been deemed ineligible for Oscar contender and the HFPA is all about predicting the Oscar winners. That I suspect may ultimately help the Bond track, sung by the young, relevant, hip and decidedly HFPA-friendly Sam Smith.