10 times the Golden Globes got it right and the Oscars didn’t
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They try harder...
Although overshadowed by the entertainment juggernaut that is the Oscars, the Golden Globes has become an event in its own right over the years. The ceremony has drawn much criticism of late, with accusations that it caters to the stars in an effort to boost ratings. However, the awards have generally favoured commerciality over independent film - and that has not always been a bad thing.
In fact, the Golden Globes' larger programme of awards and extended categories no doubt influenced the Oscars' decision to once again extend its Best Picture category to include ten nominations, consequently opening the field to more commercial fare.
Now in its 68th year, the Globes has often managed to supersede its older more prestigious sibling in both its choice of nominations and ultimate winners. Therefore, as a reminder to all the naysayers that think the ceremony is just a narcissistic pat on the back of an already over-indulgent industry, the following is a list of the times the Globes got it right...
2011: The Social Network beats The King’s Speech
This year’s awards season was dominated by two films. On one side was David Fincher’s contemporary tale of power and betrayal; The Social Network, and on the other was Tom Hooper’s period drama; The King’s Speech. Fincher’s portrayal of the creation of Facebook and its cold and calculating founder Mark Zuckerberg was hailed as the Citizen Kane of our time and was certainly the better film. The Academy, however, disagreed and awarded its Best Picture statuette to the film about a monarch with a speech impediment. The Globes, which always precede the Oscars, instead showered The Social Network with glory, rightly awarding it the Best Drama gong and giving the oft-overlooked Fincher the Best Director award he so justly deserved.
2010 - 2011 Hiring Ricky Gervais to host not once...but twice!
Something was missing from the previous two Oscars shows. Although the stars were all out in force and the wardrobe malfunctions were intact, what was missing was a truly affable master of ceremonies. The past two Oscars hosts included the awkward coupling of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in 2010 and the critically-maligned pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco in 2011. The Globes, on the other hand, chose Ricky Gervais in 2010, whose scathing anti-Hollywood comments rattled quite a few cages. Instead of shying away, however, they called him back in 2011, where he proceeded to poke fun at the preposterous nature of American award ceremonies. This is a man who got onstage and claimed his employers were taking bribes. Gervais must be congratulated for not toning down his unique brand of humour where so many other hosts have. The result was possibly the most entertaining film awards ever, arguably even better than the classic ceremonies presented by legendary Oscar hosts Bob Hope and Billy Crystal.
1944 - present: The best musical/comedy category recognises the unsung genre of film
Okay, forget the musical aspect - the emphasis here is firmly on comedy. The Oscars hardly nominate award Best Picture to a comedy, let alone award one. So, if you’re a fan of comedy, you’re better off watching the Golden Globes. Although this year’s nominations were abysmal (The Tourist, anyone?), in the past this category has been filled with wall-to-wall classics. A case in point was the year 1989 when Working Girl, Big, A Fish Called Wanda, Midnight Run and Who Framed Roger Rabbit were all in contention. Other notable nominations include American Graffiti in 1974, Trading Places in 1984 and Back to the Future in 1986, all of which are outright classics despite their genre. Therefore the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) continual celebration of all things funny is alone worth its existence.
1977: Sidney Lumet wins his only major directing award
Earlier this year cinema lost one of its greatest and most enduring directors, Sidney Lumet. It might come as a surprise to many readers that the man behind such classic films as Twelve Angry Men, Long Day’s Journey into the Night, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon never won a Best Director Oscar, although he was nominated several times. Lumet also left empty-handed the six times he was nominated for a BAFTA and the four times his films were up for a Palme D’Or at Cannes. The only major awards ceremony to recognise his talent was, you guessed it - the Globes. In 1977 he scooped the Best Director prize for Network beating out then favourite, Rocky director, John G. Alvidsen. The Academy finally recognised Lumet in 2005 with an honorary Oscar. Maybe they thought they had corrected their repeated wrongs when in actual fact justice had already been done by the Globes over two decades earlier.
1983: E.T. beats Gandhi
Who in their right mind thinks Attenborough’s overlong biopic is better than Spielberg’s family-friendly sci-fi? Even if you deplore Spielberg’s gimmicky marketing tactics, there is no doubt that E.T. is the better film. It is an original sci-fi tale that captured suburban America in all its troubled glory. Furthermore it was that rare smash hit blockbuster that appealed to both audiences and critics alike. The Oscars, however, once again went for the historical tale of triumph over the odds. In Gandhi’s favour, it was made by a respected filmmaker and had a brilliant lead performance by British thespian Ben Kingsley. The Academy have always been stubborn in their ways and nine times out of ten will choose dramatic entries over sci-fi. E.T. should have been the exception. Thankfully the Globes realised that.
1985/1999/2004: They consistently recognised and finally awarded the work of comedic genius Bill Murray
Why has Bill Murray never won an Oscar? It’s basically due to the fact that the pretentious folks at the Academy refuse to take comedians seriously. The Golden Globes, on the other hand, constantly recognise the hard work of comedic actors offering them a chance to share the limelight during the awards season. Bill Murray is one of the most talented and consistently funny comedians of all time, yet he has been overlooked on countless occasions by all the major awards. He hasn’t received nominations for his roles in classic comedies such as Kingpin, Groundhog Day and The Life Aquatic. In 2004, however, after a much buzzed-about turn in Sofia Coppola’s melancholic tourist drama Lost in Translation, he finally received an Oscar nomination. He was robbed of the Best Actor award, however, by the Academy’s golden boy Sean Penn, who won for Mystic River. The Globes came through for Murray, rightly awarding him Best Actor in a Comedy. They had also previously acknowledged his arguably better turns in Ghostbusters and Rushmore with nominations in 1985 and 1999 respectively
2009: Mickey Rourke beats Sean Penn for Best Actor
One look at the Oscars score-sheet will tell you that the Academy loves a good old fashioned underdog tale. In 1977 Rocky KO’d Network, Forrest Gump pipped Pulp Fiction to the post in 1994, and Braveheart massacred all the other nominees in 1995. So why was it that the Academy showed no love for Darren Aronofsky’s unflinching look at the world of professional wrestling; The Wrestler? The film, which followed a down-on-his-luck professional trying to piece his life together, had at its heart an emotionally powerful performance by Mickey Rourke. In a strange moment of art imitating life, Rourke himself was viewed as the underdog during awards season. Here was a man who was riding high in the late eighties on the back of effortlessly charming performances in films such as Diner and Rumble Fish who threw it all away to pursue a professional boxing career. Now Rourke had made the unlikeliest of comebacks bearing the physical scars to prove his turbulent past. This time the Oscars weren’t interested, however, choosing to award Sean Penn instead. Although Penn’s role in Milk was worthy of a nomination, the Academy ignored what could have been the icing on the cake of a magnificent return to form by Rourke. The Globes, however, seized the opportunity and gave the actor his comeback trophy. Now there’s an underdog tale that merits repeat viewing.
1956: East of Eden beats Marty for Best Picture
The Golden Globes had been playing second fiddle to the Oscars since their inception in 1944. Although both awards had chosen their fair share of duds for Best Picture, they often tended to agree with one another. 1956, however, was an exception. The year saw the Oscar for Best Picture go to the romantic drama Marty. Meanwhile, the Globes chose the superior East of Eden, directed by Elia Kazan. Perhaps the Academy didn’t want to repeat themselves by giving another Kazan film the top prize, as his masterpiece On the Waterfront had won the previous year. The Globes, who had also handed their top prize to Kazan’s gritty tale of dockside corruption in 1955, made the right decision and chose East of Eden as the Best Picture winner. It was a decision that both distinguished the ceremony and defined the Globes on their own terms.
1999: The Globes got the major acting categories right and the Oscars didn’t
By the nineties the Golden Globes had settled into the backseat during awards season. The HFPA had opted for drawing big names to their ceremonies through the lure of a nomination; Madonna winning Best Actress for Evita in 1997 is perhaps the most blatant example of this. In 1999, however, the Globes rounded off a mishandled decade with two major sucker punches to its rival the Oscars. Both blows came in the dramatic acting categories and displayed bravery and sound judgement on the part of the HFPA. The Best Actor award went to The Truman Show star Jim Carrey, an award no one would imagine the Academy granting to an actor known for slapstick comedy. Best Actress was awarded to Cate Blanchett for her powerful role as the Virgin Queen in Elizabeth. Keeping in mind that Blanchett was a newcomer, the Globes took a risk by honouring her in favour of a more established star. The Academy on the other hand chose Robert Benigni for his over the top performance in the awfully sentimental World War Two drama Life is Beautiful and Gwyneth Paltrow for her lightweight performance in the fluffy period piece Shakespeare in Love. Gwyneth bawling her eyes out during her acceptance speech pretty much summed up the howler on the part of the Oscars.
2002: Gene Hackman wins Best Actor for Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums was unfairly overlooked by all the major awards ceremonies. It had a witty script by writer-director Wes Anderson and actor Owen Wilson, it was an insanely ambitious follow-up to Anderson’s breakthrough film Rushmore and it had an all-star cast who put in terrific performances. The latter not gaining any recognition was perhaps the biggest injustice, in particular the snub by the Screen Actors Guild for which Tenenbaums should have been a shoe-in for the Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture award. If you were forced to choose a standout performance in the film, you’d have to go with Hackman as the rogue patriarch Royal. Up to this point Hackman had a hard time shrugging off his tough everyman persona, a role he had inhabited in Oscar winning performances in films such as The French Connection and Unforgiven. Tenenbaums redisplayed his sure touch with comedy, and he was consequently a joy to watch in every scene. The Academy, however, was obviously not paying attention - or perhaps they thought two Oscars were enough. The Globes, on the other hand, gave credit where credit was due by rewarding Hackman his second Best Actor award.
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