In their turnaround between their nominating and their final ballots, the foreign press drop-kicked both their drama favorite 'Up in the Air' and their comedy/musical favorite 'Nine' to the curb. 'Up in the Air' cashed in only one of its six nominations -- the best screenplay award to 'Up in the Air' -- and 'Nine' went oh-for-four. Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds,' which also had four nominations, felt the love just once, for Christoph Waltz's supporting actor performances. The 100 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association must have really loved James Cameron's 'Avatar' to keep from voting for his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director for 'The Hurt Locker.' Ask yourself: Given the chance to honor the maker of what may become the biggest box office hit of all time with a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Motion Picture and take the rare opportunity to acknowledge a woman for besting men in a men's world, shouldn't you take the double?
In their turnaround between their nominating and their final ballots, the foreign press drop-kicked both their drama favorite 'Up in the Air' and their comedy/musical favorite 'Nine' to the curb. 'Up in the Air' cashed in only one of its six nominations -- the best screenplay award to 'Up in the Air' -- and 'Nine' went oh-for-four. Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds,' which also had four nominations, felt the love just once, for Christoph Waltz's supporting actor performances.
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But 'Avatar's' major rivals are damaged goods going into the final laps of the Oscar race, because no one can buy more trade paper ads or spend as much money on other Oscar campaign functions as 'Avatar's distributor, 20th Century Fox. And no one else can boast of winning the main prizes at the Golden Globes. All this matters as Oscar's 5,777 voters begin to focus on their own nominating ballots, which have to be in the mail by Saturday.
It's reasonable to assume that most of those voters watched the Golden Globes show and were either moved or not by the acceptance speeches. But the odds on those winners getting more consideration than the losers on their ballots were increased, probably by a lot.
The foreign press spread their awards with apparent equanimity. No movie got more than two Globes and only three -- 'Avatar,' 'Up,' and 'Crazy Heart' -- got that many. But neither 'Up' nor 'Crazy Heart' is in the running for a Best Picture Oscar. 'The Hurt Locker' was, but, after it was shut out at the Globes, may no longer be. Certainly, unnecessary damage has been done to Cameron's ex-wife, Bigelow.
She deserved to win, as even Cameron acknowledged while accepting the award that should have been in her hand at the time, and she needed to win. She needed her chance to address her peers, to make a personal connection. And at 57, this may be her last shot at the career she should long ago have been given the opportunity to develop.
OK, the foreign press, as someone noted during Sunday's Globe broadcast, is a strange bunch. They're not driven by logic or even by taste; they're driven by their need for writing assignments. And they are going to get a lot more assignments for a movie that's about to gross more than $1 billion overseas than for one that has already run its course in foreign markets with barely $3 million in ticket sales.
I regret the foreign press's survival instincts and their discipline. Bigelow may yet win an even bigger prize -- the Directors Guild Award will be handed out on Saturday and the Oscars on March 7 -- but neither of those seems as likely now. Instead of hearing from her Sunday, we got two fatuous speeches from her narcissistic ex-husband, who proved twice again that he is tone-deaf when it comes to knowing how he is being perceived.
We all remember the embarrassment of his bellowing "I am king of the wold!" after sweeping the '97 Oscars with 'Titanic.' But when, during his last Globes speech, he appealed to the Beverly Hilton audience for a round of self-congratulatory applause for their general greatness, I felt an empathetic wave of nausea sweep over me on their behalf.
I like 'Avatar' and will not be upset if it wins the Oscar for Best Picture. But Cameron is a technological master, not a master director. He's certainly not a writer, not of scripts and not of speeches. On Sunday, the King of the World was a bag of wind, and his ex-wife -- his better on this night -- was nowhere in sight.