Old is golden at the globes

On Sunday, the Golden Globes once again showed why it was like the Oscar's goofier, more idiosyncratic cousin.

And that is why the ceremony and the acclaim it lavishes on the artists it likes in many ways are more relevant than the more prestigious, but also more staid, corporate-driven and much more self-congratulatory Academy Awards.

What it got right yesterday was to give character actor J.K. Simmons a muchdeserved Best Supporting Actor for his part as a megalomaniacal music teacher in the drama Whiplash, which opens in Singapore on Thursday.

Simmons' win, at age 60, will remind viewers of the acclaim that landed at Richard Jenkins' feet when he, another veteran of stage and screen, was lauded in 2008 for his part in drama The Visitor.

The Globes' entire nominations list this year, in fact, was packed - some will say weighed down - with older actors being given recognition for their bodies of work, rather than for individual performances.

Bill Murray's grumpy old man in the over-sentimental comedy St. Vincent was not a stretch, but he had a Best Actor nod in the category of Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.

Likewise with Helen Mirren's imperious restaurant owner in the cloying The Hundred-Foot Journey. She was nominated for Best Actress (Musical or Comedy).

The same could be said for Robert Duvall, nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the Robert Downey vehicle The Judge.

And while Michael Keaton's performance as Riggan Thomson, an actor seeking redemption on Broadway was astoundingly good, voters who gave him the Best Actor win (Musical or Comedy) must also have felt it was about time this under-rated actor got his due.

Some might say that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's (HFPA) voting membership of around 90 persons are older and unfairly biased in favour of prestige actors (hello, Meryl Streep in the musical Into The Woods), especially those known for playing the media relations game well.

The voting members are, after all, journalists.

But because the Golden Globes voters are writers and critics, their choices are less influenced by a couple of factors that will hobble the Oscar chances of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and Richard Linklater's Boyhood, welldeserved winners of Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and Drama, respectively.

Boyhood was a low-budget drama that used a tiny crew and was shot in Texas. Some say that films that employ large Los Angeles crews tend to win because they employ more Academy voting members.

And Budapest premiered early last year, well before the traditional Oscar marketing season, and so will fall into the memory hole of voters during balloting season.

Hence, the Globes is, in its own way, a cleaner race of artistic merit than the Oscars.

That is not to say that the HFPA is immune to manipulation.

As has become the ritual, prestige movies - Oscar- and Globes-bait movies that are self-consciously important and inspirational - feature heavily in the nominations.

Prestige biopics are the flavour of the year and at the Globes, and these films reaped the gold.

Eddie Redmayne as physicist Stephen Hawking won Best Actor (Drama). Amy Adams as painter Margaret Keane picked up Best Actress (Musical or Comedy).

On the nominations list were, among others, the tweedy biopic The Imitation Game (opening here Jan 22), profiling the tragic life of pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, and Selma, the drama based on the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday and will bear some resemblance to the Globes (especially in the nods for prestige works), but otherwise, should feature more big-budget works.

Christopher Nolan's epic sci-fi work Interstellar, for example, is likely to pick up more nods than the Globes' offering of Best Original Score, as will Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, which got zilch at the Globes.

To win some Globes love, perhaps Nolan should consider dropping Michael Caine in favour of Duvall for his next project.

This article was first published on January 13, 2015.
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