Cinefile: Will the Oscars go the way of the Globes?

The ceremony is set for February 24, but with no end to the strike in sight, people are wondering what will happen.

oscar 88 (photo credit: )
oscar 88
(photo credit: )
Now that the Golden Globes have come and gone with minimal fanfare, thanks to the writers' strike, everyone is looking toward the Oscars. The nominations will be announced on Tuesday and the ceremony is set for February 24, but with no end to the strike in sight at press time, people are wondering what will happen. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the Golden Globes, decided to hold a press conference to announce the winners instead of an awards ceremony, once the actors vowed to honor the writers' picket line. (The idea of striking Hollywood writers might seem silly, but there is a genuine issue involved: the percentage of their cut of Internet revenue.) The Globes have gained prominence in recent years partly because celebrity-crazed fans were hungry to see another red-carpet event and because the ceremony, hosted by the boozy HFPA, was actually a dinner with liquor, which tended to lower inhibitions and loosen tongues. If anyone ever said anything funny at an awards show, they tended to say it at the Globes. It seems unlikely that the Academy will use the press-conference solution for the Oscars, since the ceremony is a huge moneymaker and the publicity gives a big boost to winners and nominees alike. It's also the Hollywood event of the year, and far more meaningful than the Golden Globes. The Globes are voted on by fewer than 100 foreign reporters, while the Oscars are decided by the nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is composed of the actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, etc. who make American movies. If the strike isn't resolved by the time of the show, the ceremony may be postponed, which isn't unprecedented. But in spite of the cancellation of the Globes ceremony, prizes were awarded. What do they mean for the Oscars? Not much. The categories are different at the Globes, in that there are separate categories for dramatic films and comedies/musicals, including in the acting awards. It's been four years since any of the Globes' Best Picture winners matched the Best Picture Oscar winner and Lord of the Rings won both awards. So the fact that Atonement won a Golden Globe for Best Drama and Sweeney Todd won Best Comedy or Musical is not an indicator of what will win Oscars. I expect Atonement will be nominated for Best Picture, along with the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men (which has won the lions' share of critics' awards); Paul Thomas Anderson's epic drama of the early days of the oil industry, There Will Be Blood (the star of which, Daniel Day-Lewis, won a Golden Globe and seems likely to win the Oscar); Juno, an amiable, low-budget comedy with a good script that will be this year's Little Miss Sunshine; and the George Clooney legal thriller Michael Clayton, since Clooney is the closest thing there is to Hollywood royalty since Cary Grant retired. These are the conventional-wisdom predictions, but I wouldn't be shocked if there were one surprise, such as Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, an inspirational French-language fact-based drama about a man in his forties who suffers a stroke and can communicate only by blinking one eye. I saw Diving Bell, along with many of the other contenders that have not opened here yet, on a recent visit to New York. Diving Bell is an excellent movie although it may sound grim. It features lots of shots of beautiful blonde physical therapists and ex-wives, and even some black comedy. Atonement was a letdown. Although some critics have hailed it as this year's English Patient, I found that the leads, James McAvoy (who was so wonderful in last year's The Last King of Scotland) and Keira Knightley didn't have any chemistry with each other. The script, while it made reference to all the complex themes of Ian McEwan's novel, had little impact. But the most memorable movie I saw was the crazy, violent and confusing but mesmerizing No Country for Old Men. If you like the Coen brothers, you'll want to see this film, which opens in Israel next Thursday. Javier Bardem may be the scariest psychopath in movie history, and Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones give solid performances as the bewildered and grossly outmatched sort-of good guys.