The utter dominance of La La Land at the Golden Globes, winning a record-beating 7 awards, suggests it’s about to sing and dance its way to Oscar glory. Yet its strong showing at the Globes betrays what could be one of the closest Oscar races in recent memory.
As a disclaimer, La La Land’s clean sweep at the Globes was arguably secured through the unique categorisation of the Globes. Unlike the Oscars, the Globes separates its best picture category into two: ‘best motion picture – drama’, and ‘best motion picture – musical or comedy’. La La Land, as one of the first major musicals in recent memory and critically-adored almost universally, swept to victory in the musical/comedy category.
La La Land is a heavy hitter in the fight for best picture, but who are the contenders giving it a run for its money?
Manchester by the Sea earned four nominations in the major categories of best picture (in the drama category), best director, best supporting actress and best actor at the Globes, with Casey Affleck taking the best actor prize.
Described in Empire’s five star review as “masterfully told and beautifully acted” and with a “career-best performance” from Casey Affleck, the film has received critical acclaim since its Sundance Film Festival debut a year ago, and now looks poised for major awards success, particularly in the acting categories.
Another awards contender centred on a career-best performance is Jackie, the biopic of the former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Natalie Portman is favourite to win her second best actress Oscar, despite losing out to Isabelle Huppert (winning for her performance in Elle) at the Golden Globes.
The film matches Portman’s transcendent performance, offering a challenging and distinctive take on the traditional biopic. Portman’s performance may be the major talking point, but the film itself is astonishing in its own right, and will be a major player come the Academy Awards.
Perhaps La La Land’s biggest competitor in the best picture category is Moonlight. The film premiered at the London Film Festival in October to reactions that seemed to have stunned even director Barry Jenkins: “I’ve had a 65-year-old straight white man bawling in my arms”. Only his second film, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young gay black man growing up in Miami.
Winning the Golden Globe for best drama and gaining awards momentum since its release in the US in November, Moonlight – due for release in the UK in February – is an important, must-see film bound to be remembered long after the awards season.
Whereas these films are all expecting at least nominations, it is worth remembering the Oscars’ propensity for going against the grain, such as when Crash took the best picture prize over Brokeback Mountain at the 2006 Oscars, or Shakespeare in Love similarly beating out Saving Private Ryan in 1999. One of the biggest potential nomination surprises could be the R-rated comic book film Deadpool, which was nominated for best motion picture and best actor in the musical and comedy section of the Golden Globes.
Although Deadpool’s nominations were again put down to the Globes unique categorisation, it also picked up a nomination for its screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Award, and a best theatrical picture nod at the Producers Guild of America awards, both of which often give a hint of how the industry is perceiving the awards race.
As more award shows take place before the Oscars – such as the previously mentioned Producers and Writers Guild awards and the BAFTAs – some frontrunners may begin to pull away or surprise entrants make their way to the fore. Either way, there’s no denying this is a strong awards year, with a number of unmissable films, from searing dramas to toe-tapping musicals, making their way into cinemas.
UPCOMING SCREENINGS AT PHOENIX
La La Land, from Jan 13
Manchester by the Sea, from Jan 20
Jackie, from Jan 27
Moonlight, from Feb 24