The awards season is underway and as it goes distributors, publicists and talent are all jockeying for a piece of the action. This year- a year in which a clear frontrunner hasn’t quite been sussed out yet- may prove especially ferocious and competitive. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization in charge of the annual Golden Globe Awards, has thrown down the gauntlet on where certain films belong. This may or may not have an affect on the outcome of the 88th Academy Awards next February.
One ruling that seems to generating considerable reaction is HFPA’s decision to place Ridley Scott’s The Martian in the Musical or Comedy categories- the Golden Globes, unlike the Oscars, have two different Best Picture categories (one for drama and one for musicals or comedies as well as coinciding lead actor categories). The survival film centered around an astronaut (played by Matt Damon) stranded on Mars and trying to come home has received rave reviews from critics and been greeted with blockbuster box office, but is it really a comedy? While the film has considerable humor, does this categorization make any sense?
“Mars will come to fear my botany powers!”
Apparently, members of the HFPA were similarly divided as the film reportedly barely snagged a comedy distinction by a margin of one vote. The musical/comedy categories at the Golden Globes have historically been a tad murky as can be completely defining what’s a drama and what’s a comedy. Several films nominated in that category in recent years (2013 winner American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, My Week With Marilyn) have raised eyebrows. Not everyone has been happy about the HFPA’s seeming laissez-faire stance on categorizations. Judd Apatow, who recently directed emphatic comedy Trainwreck, went to Twitter recently to vent on what he vied as category fraud.
Trying to dominate the comedy category when you are really a drama afraid of dramatic competition is a punk move. https://t.co/wIzGHCmeGx
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) October 7, 2015
Another 2015 Oscar hopeful- David O. Russell’s Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence, reportedly may be headed to the comedy as well- there is still some contention on where the HFPA might place that film because the movie hasn’t started screening as of yet. Contrary, the HFPA rejected Bleecker Street’s Trumbo (starring Bryan Cranston) as a comedy; that film will now be slotted as drama. Two other budding hopefuls- Sony’s The Walk and A24’s The End of the Tour– also teased going the comedy route at the Golden Globes but will instead vie for drama slots.
Speaking of further category confusion slots- Rooney Mara has picked up considerable acclaim (and a Cannes Best Actress prize) for her performance in Carol opposite Cate Blanchett. The Weinstein Company, distributors of the film, had hoped to place Mara in Supporting Actress with Blanchett going lead. The HFPA ruled that Mara would only be eligible for lead. A similar fate arose for Alicia Vikander‘s acclaimed performance in the upcoming The Danish Girl. Focus Features hoped she would vie in Supporting Actress (likely so she wouldn’t have to contend against Carey Mulligan, Focus’ leading lady in Suffragette); again the HFPA ruled her a lead. Jason Segal will also go lead for his turn in The End of the Tour, a performance that A24 was hoping would garner Supporting Actor mentions.
Does any of this matter in the end. Depends on the day of the week perhaps. We will stay tuned to the latest developments as we start to head into the beast of the 2015 awards season. The Golden Globe nominations will be announced on December 10th.