When it’s time to hand out their film awards, the Golden Globes have three main motivations. Like a critics’ group, they want to reflect the often idiosyncratic tastes of their membership. Like any self-respecting precursor ceremony, they want the prestige of “predicting” the Oscars. And, like the MTV VMAs, they want to create moments that everyone will be talking about the next morning. These goals are often in conflict, but occasionally, they align: The Globes handing Isabelle Huppert Best Actress in a Drama two years ago certainly was in keeping with the, let’s say, continental sensibilities of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but that surprise win also provided crucial momentum for Huppert to pick up her own Oscar nomination, and in retrospect was a key sign that Jackie just didn’t have it.
With that in mind, how should we interpret Sunday night’s shocking Golden Globes results in terms of the Oscars race? First, I’m skeptical that big wins for Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book mean that they’re our new Best Picture front-runners. The small voting pool of HFPA members ensures polarizing contenders have a much better shot at taking home the top prize at the Globes than at the Oscars, where the preferential ballot rewards consensus picks in Best Picture. And those Globes trophies tend to have a habit of sparking even more backlash. Recall the massive dunkfests that greeted La La Land and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri after they were their respective nights’ biggest winners — neither wound up winning Best Picture. With the preferential ballot, it’s important to be loved but it’s just as important not to be hated, and I suspect too many people have issues with both Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book for either to triumph.
So, if those two aren’t the favorites to take home Best Picture, who is? Twenty-four hours ago, I would have said A Star Is Born, before the Globes did everything but drop a handkerchief in the face of Bradley Cooper’s film. Star missing out on nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay seemed to indicate the HFPA was cooler on that giant than anticipated, and the ceremony confirmed the suspicion, with the film taking home only a single win: Best Song, an honor even the biggest Star Is Born hater would not have denied it. Still, it remains to be seen if the lack of love for the remake is widespread, or just one of those weird Globes things. The guild awards should tell us more — if Star underperforms at those too, it might be time to start betting on Roma, Black Panther, or even a dark horse like The Favourite.