Countdown to the Golden Globes

Handicapping Hollywood’s Award Season

By Jenny Peters

It’s that time of year in Hollywood, when everyone dusts off their tuxedoes, pulls the family jewels out of the vault (to pair with spectacular ball gowns, of course) and begins attending the seemingly endless rounds of awards celebrations that mark the culmination of the 2016 year in film. It’s also the time when pundits begin handicapping the various categories, predicting what will eventually win the Academy Awards, which are, of course, the biggest prizes in the business.

As a founding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), I’ve already voted for and attended the Critics’ Choice Awards (CCAs), which came out of the box very early this awards season, on December 11, 2016. For the past 22 years, the over 300 members of the BFCA have successfully predicted the lion’s share of the movies that end up winning Oscars; we, along with other key voting groups, see hundreds of films every year and make our picks via secret ballot.

Other important barometers of the Academy Awards – which happen on February 26, 2017 – include the Golden Globe Awards (January 8), the Screen Actors Guild Awards (January 29), the Director’s Guild Awards (February 4), the Producers Guild Awards (January 28) and the Film Independent Spirit Awards (February 25).

Scene from "Toni Erdmann"
Scene from “Toni Erdmann”

Some standout films and performances have already taken the lead in both nominations and wins, including three with distinctly German roots. “Toni Erdmann,” the German comedy from Maren Ade, has won numerous awards already and is one of nine foreign films in the running for the Oscars (who announce nominations on January 24). It’s up for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language.

Scene from "My Life as a Zucchini"
“My Life as a Zucchini”

“My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras’ animated Swiss entrant, also made the cut to nine from 85 films submitted for consideration in the Academy Award Foreign Language Film category (five will be nominated); it is contending for Best Animated Feature Film as well and has a Golden Globe nomination in that category, too. And Maria Shrader’s Austrian contender “Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe,” her drama about the famed Jewish-Austrian writer’s exile to Brazil during World War II, failed to make the final cut for Oscar consideration.

The major contenders for Best Picture are shaping up to be “LA LA Land” and “Moonlight,” with each already nabbing important wins and numerous nominations. “LA LA Land” won our CCAs Best Picture top prize, while “Moonlight” took home Best Acting Ensemble. Both are up for numerous Golden Globe prizes, too, including “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali, who looks to win every Best Supporting Actor award given out this season. Viola Davis also seems to be on an unstoppable ride for her “Fences” supporting actress performance.

Bet on Casey Affleck to win Best Actor at every turn for his compelling work in “Manchester By the Sea” – he’s basically taken home just about every award and accolade given so far. But the Best Actress category is wide open, a real horse race among Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” Emma Stone for “LA LA Land” and Ruth Negga for “Loving,” with Amy Adams (“Arrival”) and Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”) hanging in there, too. That one, along with Best Director, are tough ones to call this year.

So be sure to watch the Golden Globes and the other upcoming awards-season shows, especially if you’re planning to put an Oscar ballot into your annual office pool; knowing what won the CCAs, GGs, SAGs, DGAs, PGAs and Spirits will definitely help with the handicapping.