By Vinnie Lione-Napoli
Arts & Entertainment Co-Editor
With 2012 finally at a close, the awards season for the film industry is in high gear. The festivities kicked off two Sundays ago with the 70th Golden Globe Awards, which honored the best in film and television of the past year.
This year’s Golden Globes, as they frequently do, will likely provide audiences with a barometer for films’ success at the far more prestigious Academy Awards next month.
One of the most interesting distinctions between the two awards programs, aside from the lack of television accolades at the Oscars, is the conscious separation of dramatic and comedic works in many categories of the Golden Globes. This provides an opportunity for an additional film, show, or celebrity to celebrate success, even if they would have lost out at the Oscars to someone or something in an opposing genre.
The grand prize winners of the night were the CIA thriller “Argo” and the film-based-on-a-musical-based-on-a-novel “Les Miserables” for the Best Drama and Musical/Comedy motion pictures respectively. Ben Affleck himself also surprisingly won for his directorial role in “Argo,” despite being snubbed by the Academy. With an “Argo” victory over the critically adored “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” the film’s prospects at the Oscars look brighter than ever, despite being largely overshadowed by these two ambitious historical dramas. An Academy Award is not by any means guaranteed, however, as evidenced by the Golden Globe victories and Oscar losses of 2009’s “Avatar” and 2010’s “The Social Network.”
Rounding out the nominees for best drama are the visually striking “Life of Pi” and the overwhelmingly entertaining “Django Unchained,” the latter of which earned director/writer Quentin Tarantino an award for Best Screenplay.
The main challenger to Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” in the musical/comedy category was David O. Russell’s superb “Silver Linings Playbook.” Hooper, who directed 2010’s Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech,” was also denied a directorial nod at the Oscars in this highly-competitive year. Russell, on the other hand, did earn a nomination, providing his film with a distinct glimmer of hope in the Best Picture category. Both films have questionable odds of success in February, however. With the exception of 2011’s “The Artist” and 2005’s Golden Globe-snubbed “Crash,” a nominee for Best Musical/Comedy has ended up losing out to a dramatic nominee at the Oscars every year since 2002’s “Chicago.”
Dramatic acting accolades went to both Daniel Day-Lewis for tackling Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s biopic and Jessica Chastain for her brilliant portrayal of a CIA agent in Kathryn Bigelow’s post-9/11 drama “Zero Dark Thirty.” Hugh Jackman took home a Best Actor award for his performance as the iconic Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” and Jennifer Lawrence won for her sensational portrayal of a recovering sex addict in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Christoph Waltz, who scored a much-deserved Oscar for his work in Tarantino’s 2009 masterpiece “Inglourious Basterds,” also won for his supporting role in “Django Unchained.” Anne Hathaway, who had sparked instantaneous Oscar buzz with her passionate performance as Fantine in “Les Miserables,” won with ease for her supporting role.
In addition, the latest Bond film “Skyfall” won a Golden Globe for Adele in the Best Original Song category, and “Life of Pi” received the award for Best Original Score. The French-language “Amour” was named the Best Foreign Film and Pixar’s “Brave” received the Best Animated Feature award.
Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, stars of the NBC sitcoms “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation” respectively, tried their best to make this often-stale Oscar preview entertaining, with mild success. Both women were also nominated as lead comedic actresses for their television work, losing out to Lena Dunham for her role on her HBO brainchild, “Girls.” The series also won the award for Best Musical/Comedy program.
On the television side of the night, Showtime’s captivating drama “Homeland” emerged as the clear winner. The program not only won the best dramatic series trophy but also swept the lead dramatic acting categories for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.
“Game Change,” an HBO film, went home quite satisfied, earning awards for Best Miniseries/Television Film, and acting awards for Julianne Moore and Ed Harris for their uncanny portrayals of Sarah Palin and John McCain respectively.
Other acting awards went to Don Cheadle for his role in the Showtime program “House of Lies,” Kevin Costner for his performance in the History Channel miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” and Maggie Smith for her work in the British drama “Downton Abbey.”
The accolades awarded and information gained at the 70th Golden Globes will certainly provide audiences with a general idea of what may occur at the Oscars next month. With such interesting contrasts in the lists of nominees, the results will no doubt be full of surprises.