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Five Things the Golden Globes Nominations Say About the Oscars

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced the 2013 Golden Globe Award nominations. It's debatable how much of a precursor to the Academy Awards they really are, but as an annual snapshot of some of the best-loved movies of the year, they do provide a good excuse to try and read the Oscar tea leaves. Based on what did and didn't make the Globes' shortlist, we can glean some indications of how the race is shaping up. (Scroll on down the page if you just want to see a complete list of Globes nominations.)
1) Never write off Quentin Tarantino.
Judging from its trailers, Django Unchained does not look much like an Oscar contender. However, the film's appearance in the Globes' Best Drama category, as well as in Best Director, suggests that viewers are once again recognizing the uniformly high level of filmmaking craft that Tarantino brings to the table. The Globes are missing many of the Academy's tech and craft categories, but you can expect Django cinematographer Robert Richardson to be recognized as well as (OK, this is just a guess) a posthumous nom for production designer J. Michael Riva, who died in June.
2) Politics play.
Awards-giving bodies love films with a sense of real-world seriousness about them, and the Globes nominations highlight the breadth of admiration for stories torn from yesterdays' headlines; Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, and Lincoln all strive to reveal and illuminate social, political, and military machinations, and Argo, with its movie-within-a-movie scenario, benefits from adding an inside-Hollywood angle to the picture. Even the more escapist titles follow this pattern. Throw Django into that list if you think it comments on race relations in the U.S., and Life of Pi if you value the geopolitical implications of its religious allegory. And don't forget that Les Miserables, which is gaining special plaudits for Anne Hathaway's singing performance, is not just a popular musical spectacle but a story set amid poverty, injustice and the French Revolution. That will play well with the Academy, too.
3) The Hobbit will not be a factor in the major awards.
However The Hobbit fares in the Academy's tech categories like VFX and sound, the Globes give no indication that it will follow in the footsteps of the Lord of the Rings films as a contendor for top Oscars, or that Andy Serkis will make any headway in his continuing campaign to bring mainstream legitimacy to performance-capture techniques as an extension of an actual performance by a real actor. It's a shame — his Gollum is one of the most iconic characters in contemporary blockbuster cinema. And it's telling of Academy attitudes that, while The Return of the King won Oscars in every category where it was nominated, not one of those awards or nominations was for performance.
4) Kathryn Bigelow could make history again.
We'll know more as Oscar season grinds on, but the way things stand right now, Kathryn Bigelow stands to be both the first and the second woman to take home a statuette for direction. Good for her, but it will be nice to see other women eventually make their way into the very top ranks of filmmakers recognized by the Oscars.
5) Zero Dark Thirty is the likely front-runner, with caveats.
The bottom line here is that Zero Dark Thirty, which has gained favor with critics and guild audiences alike, feels like the film to beat in major categories — including what's probably an inevitable Best Actress nod for the busy Jessica Chastain, playing against type. There are two major factors that could change this. One is the challenge from Les Miserables, which isn't so popular with critics but which I've heard is performing like gangbusters at guild screenings — applause, standing ovations, the works. If Les Mis is buoyed by a strong box-office showing when it opens on Christmas Day, that extra attention will give it a significant boost. If not, it could just fade away as Oscar ballots hit the mail. The second factor is the contention, now bubbling up in some coverage of ZDT, that the film somehow endorses torture as a necessary interrogation tactic. If that controversy builds after the film enters limited release next week, expect it to become a liability with liberal-minded Hollywood voters who could easily vote Lincoln or Argo instead.
The Oscar nominations will be announced January 10. The Golden Globes will be given out January 13. 


Best Picture, Drama:
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Misérables
Moonrise Kindgom
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Director:
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best Actress, Drama:
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marian Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actor, Drama:
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy:
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables 
Ewan MCGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy:
Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith, Quartet
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Best Supporting Actress: 
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables 
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Screenplay:
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David O’Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Chris Terrio, Argo

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Royal Affair
The Intouchables
Rust and Bone

Best Animated Feature:
Rise of the Guardians
Hotel Transylvania
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Television Comedy or Musical:
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Best Television Drama: 
Breaking Bad
Boardwalk Empire
Downton Abbey
The Newsroom

Best Actress, Television Drama:
Connie Britton, Nashville
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Best Actor, Television Drama:
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland

Best Miniseries or Television Movie:
Game Change
The Girl
Hatfields & McCoys
The Hour
Political Animals

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