We'll have a complete list of Golden Globes 2014 predictions by the end of the week, but for now we'll start with the two Best Motion Picture categories. As you're likely already aware, The Hollywood Foreign press breaks down Best Picture nominees into two separate categories: Best Drama and the often-abused (and criticized) Best Musical or Comedy.
Before seeing all the films that were nominated in the Musical or Comedy category, I was among the naysayers who questioned the inclusion of most of them, except for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which is by all means a musical, though a forlorn one. As it turns out, “American Hustle,” “Nebraska” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are all quite funny; or rather, they all have a lot of really funny moments. That said, they also have their fair share of drama; even tragedy, and could have just easily been included in the Best Drama category.
For this reason and more it's going to be difficult to use the 2014 Golden Globes winners to accurately predict what movie will win the Best Picture Oscar, which typically favors dramatic films. Still, as we've previously noted, the 2013 Golden Globes and Academy Awards winners lined up more closely than most of us could have expected – though this year the Best Musical or Comedy winner is more likely to be a serious Best Picture Oscar contender than “Les Miserables,” which won the category at the 2013 Golden Globes.
Here are the nominees with our predictions:
Best Motion Picture, Drama
“12 Years A Slave”
Predicted winner: “12 Years A Slave”
This category is a little bit easier than Musical or Comedy, which is packed with nominees that could easily take the Best Picture Oscar from “12 Years a Slave.” I realize that some critics, including the Los Angeles Times' Glenn Whipp, believe that “Gravity” could edge out “12 Years a Slave.” (And Indiewire picked “Gravity” as the film that “should win,” though they also predicted “12 Years” would take home the Golden Globe.) I am just having a hard time believing that the Hollywood Foreign Press would choose for its Best Picture a film that is phenomenal in many ways but has a pretty weak script. Then again, the HFP is made up of Southern California-based foreign journalists, who might have a preference for a film set in outer space over a highly stylized Civil War-era American South, and which one critic convincingly argued was a disservice to the legacy of those who were born into slavery. Still, if there's a “12 Years” upset, I'd prefer to see it come from “Philomena.” (Unlikely.)
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Predicted Winner: “American Hustle”
Likeliest challenger: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Should Win: “Nebraska.” (But it would also be kind of great if “Her” won.)
I can't remember the last time I cared enough to give myself a true blue headache about the Musical or Comedy category, which in the past has been something of a depot for studios that want to get their weaker marquee films on the awards circuit by any means possible. But this year it is really too close to call. The thing about “American Hustle” is that it is kind of ridiculous. But most of its ridiculousness is early in the first act, when it's unclear to the audience if the actors know whether or not they're performing a parody. All told, “American Hustle” is long enough and so immensely entertaining that by the end you've probably forgotten that Christian Bale's excessive gut and comb-over were way over the top, or that Bradley Cooper looked like he might have been having just a little too much fun when we first met his character. (I credit a lot “American Hustle's” momentum shift to both Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, which I'll talk more about in my Best Actress predictions.) “American Hustle” is a winner of a movie, and it's all but guaranteed to win at least a few big awards.
Alexander Payne's “Nebraska” is a masterpiece in a way that its fellow nominees aren't. But I wonder if in all its visual expansiveness it might have felt just a little too small -- too regional -- to overcome its big-city competition. Which is why I predict that “Inside Llewyn Davis” is a likelier win – it's penetrated the collective critical consciousness in a way that “Nebraska” and “Her” haven't. There isn't an undeserving movie among the nominees – and I don't think I'm alone in being a lot more interested in what happens here than in the drama category.
Stay tuned for our acting, directing, writing and TV predictions, coming at you all throughout the week. The Golden Globes will air this Sunday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. on NBC.