Andrew Collins: the awards season begins

Our film editor casts an eye over the Golden Globe nominations

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It’s that time of year again. The Golden Globe nominations were announced on Thursday morning – in case you’re interested, they were read out by Woody Harrelson, Gerard Butler, Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara and The Social Network’s Rashida Jones – and the official Awards Season was declared open.

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As seasoned statuette-watchers will know, the Globes are handed out in January, followed in February by the Baftas, and then the Oscars, by which time certain patterns will have emerged and we’ll all have a pretty good idea which films will be the big winners.

I was asked by Radio 4’s The Film Programme to go into the studio and comment on the Globe nominations for their Thursday show, still wet and warm from the printer. There was a slight panic as the announcements were a little late and the show had to go live at 4pm.

In something of a hurry, I had to scan the categories – divided into Drama and Musical/Comedy, which effectively means two sets of nominees in each – and come up, on the spot, with some wise and pithy observations on what it all means.

The nominations are in the public domain now, if you want to examine the lists in forensic detail, but these are the headlines:

War Horse is up for best drama, but its director, Steven Spielberg, has been overlooked. Woody Allen is nominated for best director – an honour that welcomes him back into the fold after years of near artistic exile at the major awards ceremonies – thanks to the film that has put him back on the pedestal, the part-period romance Midnight in Paris. I wonder about this.

While the film is a definite – and welcome – return to form, it’s a return to his early 90s form, and not his previous 70s or even 80s form. Was he really one of the year’s ten “best directors”, just for turning out a film that wasn’t as bad as his current average? (He won’t turn up, so it’s immaterial.)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an exclusive cadre of around 90 journalists who nominate and vote for the Golden Globes (compared to the megalithic 6,000-strong Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), are clearly captivated by The Ides of March, George Clooney’s underwhelming political potboiler, for which he’s nominated as director, and Ryan Gosling is nominated as actor, with best screenplay and best film to top off what’s looking like a very good day at the office for Clooney. I love him, too, but these nominations seem a little like reflex actions.

Talking of which, here’s the biggest scandal, for me: that Gosling is nominated for Ides and Crazy, Stupid Love, but not for the film that he deserves to have been nominated for – namely, Drive.

I’ve already named Drive as my favourite film of the year, but I’m hardly out on a limb in doing so. And Gosling is impeccable in it; subtle, quiet, compelling, stylish. It seems like a slap in the face to give him nods for a fairly perfunctory West Wing-style drama and a romantic comedy, but not for his powerhouse turn.

The Globes are often more colourful than the Oscar lists, because of the Musical/Comedy category. This grants entry to people like Bridesmaids’ Kristen Wiig, and Brendan Gleeson for The Guard – equally, the likeable Owen Wilson for Midnight in Paris. But the big surprise, surely, is the sweep made by The Artist.

Released here on 30 December, this is a black-and-white French film, whose foreign origin is not a problem, as it’s a silent movie, about the silent movie era. Its director, Michel Hazanavicius, and stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo – unknown to most mainstream audiences in the English-speaking world – are all nominated, as are the screenplay, the score and the film itself. This is a lovely surprise for all of us.

And let’s face it, surprises are still a possibility at this end of the awards season. When the same films turn up again at the Baftas, and again at the Oscars, we’ll be clinging to any vague chance of an upset. By then, The Artist may have become this year’s The King’s Speech. Anything could happen, but probably won’t.

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The 69th Golden Globes can be watched live on E!, 1am on Monday 16 January, with highlights at 9pm on the same channel.