The Golden Globes are one of the biggest steps on the road to the Academy Awards, but even if they're not always to be taken seriously, they're still an opportunity to gauge the race and recognize some of the great work done on TV and on the big screen over the past twelve months.
Of course, the most worthy nominees don't always head home with that gorgeous statuette. With that in mind, let's take a look at the actors and movies which deserve to win their categories (as opposed to those most likely to) at the 2017 Globes.
Best Supporting Actor
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals, as Ray Marcus
- Dev Patel – Lion, as Saroo Brierley
- Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water, as Marcus Hamilton
- Mahershala Ali – Moonlight, as Juan
- Simon Helberg – Florence Foster Jenkins, as Cosmé McMoon
Supporting Actor this year feels like the closest thing to a dead cert. Dev Patel is great in Lion, but he's really the lead, and Jeff Bridges is as terrific Hell Or High Water, but a great Jeff Bridges performance is par for the course. There's one actor in this list who is a revelation, and his name in Mahershala Ali.
Between #Moonlight, Luke Cage and his continued good work on House of Cards, 2016 was the year that the world awoke to the vast talents of Ali, who brings a ferocious level of intensity to each of his characters. His role in Moonlight is limited to one of the film's three acts, but the character he forges in Juan, complex and contradictory, is not quickly forgotten.
Best Supporting Actress
- Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea, as Randi
- Naomie Harris – Moonlight, as Paula
- Nicole Kidman – Lion, as Sue Brierley
- Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures, as Dorothy Vaughan
- Viola Davis – Fences, as Rose Maxson
Supporting Actress is probably the tightest category this year, in that pretty much any of the nominees could easily go home with the Globe. Despite superb work from Nicole Kidman and Viola Davis, my choice would be Naomie Harris, who transforms as a desperate, drug-addicted mother.
Harris's scenes were shot out of sequence in three days (the film jumps between different timelines) and she peels back the layers of a woman who's recognizably human, if not exactly somebody you'd envisage spending time with.
Best Foreign Language Film
- Divines (France)
- Elle (France)
- Neruda (Chile)
- The Salesman (Iran/France)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Foreign Language Film is a two-horse race between two extraordinary pieces of cinema, one an acerbic, surrealist, almost-three hour German comedy, the other a startlingly detached thriller in which a rape victim eschews every typical response to her trauma and engages her rapist in a game of revenge.
Toni Erdmann deserves the win simply for being a German film that's not about WW2, but also for its timely commentary on what happens when we prioritize success in the workplace over behaving like a normal human being — but Elle edges it out, just, for its radical rejection of society's expectation of how a rape victim should behave. There is no standard female response to such a traumatic experience, it claims. That it also doubles as a highly entertaining thriller renders it a brilliant piece of cinema.
- Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
- Damien Chazelle – La La Land
- Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
- Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
- Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Each of the films nominated for Best Director does a stellar job of balancing story with aesthetics, but Tom Ford draws on his vast experience as a fashion designer to compose every frame of Nocturnal Animals like a gorgeous magazine shoot, whether it's a car chase on a Texan highway or a chance meeting on a snowy street.
That all adds up to an immersive experience which feels like watching a piece of moving art. Ford's world may be violent and psychologically perilous, but it looks so ravishing you'd kill to live inside it. A win here would also make up for the severe injustice of Adams not being nominated in Best Actress.
Best Actor In A Motion Picture — Drama
- Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge, as Desmond T. Doss
- Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea, as Lee Chandler
- Denzel Washington – Fences, as Troy Maxson
- Joel Edgerton – Loving, as Richard Loving
- Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic, as Ben Cash
The competition is strong in Best Actor this year, only Viggo Mortensen feeling like an outsider for his performance as an anti-capitalist hippie raising his children in the wilderness, for better or worse, in Captain Fantastic (it's an excellent performance, just not as typically awards-baity as the others).
The Aussie Joel Edgerton gives a career-best performance in the startling real-life drama Loving, and Denzel Washington is powerful in Fences, but 2017 belongs to Casey Affleck. The younger Affleck anchors Manchester By The Sea with a highly emotional performance and, in the process, finally breaks out from his big brother's shadow.
Best Actress In A Motion Picture — Drama
- Amy Adams – Arrival, as Dr. Louise Banks
- Isabelle Huppert – Elle, as Michèle Leblanc
- Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane, as Elizabeth Sloane
- Natalie Portman – Jackie, as Jackie Kennedy
- Ruth Negga – Loving, as Mildred Loving
The Best Actress race is stunningly strong this year. If more people had seen Miss Sloane, a smart political thriller which tanked at the box office, Jessica Chastain might be winning more accolades. Ruth Negga gives a highly grounded and low-key performance in Loving, and Natalie Portman transforms into Jackie Kennedy in the biopic Jackie, emulating her mannerisms and distinctive accent superbly well.
In any other year, Isabelle Huppert would deserve the win for her fearless performance as a rape survivor who refuses to consider herself a victim in the controversial Elle. It's #AmyAdams, though, who astonishes the most with a massively emotional, curiosity-driven performance in #Arrival. All at once she captures a mother's love and grief and a thrilling sense of being on the brink of achieving greatness. She is phenomenal.
Best Actor In A Musical Or Comedy
- Colin Farrell – The Lobster, as David
- Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins, as St. Clair Bayfield
- Jonah Hill – War Dogs, as Efraim Diveroli
- Ryan Gosling – La La Land, as Sebastian Wilder
- Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool, as Wade Wilson/Deadpool
No, I don't know what Jonah Hill is doing in there either. This one feels like a straight-up battle between two Ryans, and while Gosling is great in La La Land, it's Reynolds who owned 2016 with a deadpan irreverence that turned Deadpool into a far bigger hit than anybody had imagined.
Best Actress In A Musical Or Comedy
- Annette Bening – 20th Century Women, as Dorothea Fields
- Emma Stone – La La Land, as Mia Dolan
- Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen, as Nadine Franklin
- Lily Collins – Rules Don't Apply, as Marla Mabrey
- Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins, as Florence Foster Jenkins
Hailee Steinfeld and Lily Collins both gave strong performances in films that were largely ignored, and Meryl Streep is nominated for what must be the seventy-ninth time for her frothily comedic role in Florence Foster Jenkins. All good performances, but there are two standouts in this category — Emma Stone's heartfelt turn in La La Land as an aspiring young actress in Hollywood and, at the other end of the spectrum, Annette Bening's free-spirited Californian mom in 20th Century Women.
Stone, as always, endears herself with a performance and hits just about every emotional button as her Mia enjoys the highs of love and then endures the lows that follow when those dreams she dreamed start to get in the way. But Bening radiates such warmth as Dorothea that you wish she were your mother, effortlessly becoming the very heart of 20th Century Women. She was last nominated, and won, for The Kids Are All Right in 2011, and deserves to the double here.
Best Motion Picture — Musical Or Comedy
- 20th Century Women
- Florence Foster Jenkins
- La La Land
- Sing Street
It's slightly absurd that the Golden Globes insist on splitting movies into drama and musical/comedy when inevitably some movies fall under neither category, and some — like 20th Century Women — just end up in the wrong list. If this was just 'Best Comedy' there'd only be one winner, and Ryan Reynolds would be spending Monday in bed nursing a killer hangover — but it's not, and it's impossible to ignore the freshest new musical Hollywood has given us in years.
#LaLaLand is the kind of movie which doesn't get made anymore, a love letter to old Hollywood and an ode to the dreamers who come to LA hoping to make it, not entirely prepared for what will happen if they do. Stone and Gosling have the kind of easy chemistry that can't be faked, and the film hits its emotional beats sincerely enough to avoid falling into the realm of the cheesy. Most importantly, its musical numbers are instant hits which linger in the memory for ages.
Best Motion Picture — Drama
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell Or High Water
- Manchester By The Sea
Disregarding Hacksaw Ridge, or as I prefer to call it Hollywood Welcomes Back An Anti-Semite With Open Arms, Best Picture on the dramatic side is made up entirely of low-key human dramas this year, a couple of obvious deserving nominees (Arrival, for instance) being weirdly absent. But the category is still competitive, even if it feels like a two-horse race between Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, the two most critically-adored and decorated movies on the shortlist.
Manchester By The Sea is a fantastic film, but more notable for the quality of its central performances than for its story. Moonlight, however, tells a story rarely told on the big screen, dealing with both race and sexuality in a manner that feels entirely fresh. That's why it wins my vote for Best Picture.
Do you think the Golden Globes indicate who'll receive Oscar noms?