A Golden night

Golden Globe predictions: Clooney, Madonna will win and Ricky Gervais will offend

Golden Globe predictions: Clooney, Madonna will win and Ricky Gervais will offend

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Host Ricky Gervais Publicity photo/NBC
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George Clooney in The Descendants
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Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist Courtesy of Cinema Arts Festival Houston
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Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady
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Christopher Plummer in The Beginners
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News_Golden Globes 2012_George Clooney_The Descendants
News_Cinema Arts Festival_2011_The Artist
News_Meryl Streep_Margaret Thatcher_The Iron Lady
News_Golden Globes 2012_Christopher Plummer_The Beginners
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Some folks find him smugly obnoxious. Others think he’s aggressively offensive. But never mind: The folks who make decisions for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just can’t quit Ricky Gervais. And that’s why, despite all the hue and cry that ensued after (and even during) his outrageous antics at last year’s show, the gleefully acerbic Brit humorist will be back for his third consecutive hosting gig Sunday evening when NBC airs the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards extravaganza.

Robert Downey Jr., consider yourself warned.

Let the critics be damned: Gervais’ naughty-boy behavior makes him the perfect master of ceremonies for an awards show that has long been notable for the freewheeling ad libs and wisecracks of presenters and receivers obviously under the influence of excessive libation. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may pride itself on honoring cinema as, well, art and science during its annual Oscarcast. But for members of the HFPA, their annual shindig seems more like an opportunity to party hearty.

 Let the critics be damned: Gervais’ naughty-boy behavior makes him the perfect master of ceremonies for an awards show that has long been notable for the freewheeling ad libs and wisecracks of presenters and receivers obviously under the influence of excessive libation. 

And, yes, to suck up to the stars.

HFPA voters are justly notorious for their unbridled eagerness to nominate A-list celebrities in every conceivable category, in the hope of assembling a galaxy of superstars for each year’s Golden Globes telecast. The stars co-operate, of course, mostly to gain and sustain abundant and worshipful press coverage – and, perhaps, generate Oscar momentum – but also to see and be seen while enjoying the party.

And if the host of that party makes the occasional rude remark – well, then the celebrity targeted by Gervais has an opportunity to look like a terrifically good sport by laughing at the comic’s jibes. (Unless, of course, you’re Robert Downey Jr.)

This year, it looks like many of the Golden Globes will go to The Artist, the immensely popular but conspicuously non-star-studded comedy about a silent movie luminary who makes an uneasy transition to talking pictures. But you can rest assured that several other prizes will go to the sort of high-profile movies and movie stars guaranteed to attract the maximum number of TV viewers.

What follows are my predictions of who and what will win the Golden Globes for motion pictures.  (Yes, I know: HFPA members also recognize television shows as well. But they didn’t nominate Justified in any category, so, really, who gives a damn about those awards?) Please keep in mind that these are indeed predictions, not necessarily selections. (My own picks for the best movies of 2011 can be found here.)

And if you are affronted by Ricky Gervais’ trademark snark at any point during Sunday evening’s Golden Globes show (Sunday 7 p.m., NBC) consider what the gentleman himself had to say in a recent essay for Entertainment Weekly:

“Several of my jokes at last year’s Golden Globes were deemed offensive by some. That’s fine. Everyone has the right to be offended. And I have the right to offend. The simple fact is, offense is taken, not given. It’s up to you if you’re offended or not. And remember, just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Some people are offended by equality, mixed marriage, and homosexuality, for example. Who cares?”  

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Nominees: The Descendants; The Help; Hugo; The Ides of March; Moneyball; War Horse.

Likely winner: The Descendants.

Reason: Never underestimate the appeal of George Clooney’s star power. Especially when he’s giving one of his all-time best performances in one of the year’s very best movies.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Nominees: George Clooney, The Descendants; Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar; Michael Fassbender, Shame; Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March; Brad Pitt, Moneyball.

Likely winner: George Clooney.

Reason: See Best Motion Picture, Drama.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Nominees: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis, The Help; Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Likely winner: Meryl Streep

Reason: She’s Meryl Freakin’ Streep.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Nominees: 50/50; The Artist; Bridesmaids; Midnight in Paris; My Week With Marilyn.

Likely winner: The Artist.

Reason: The Artist is like The Borg — resistance is futile.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Nominees: Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Brendan Gleeson, The Guard; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50; Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love; Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris.

Likely winner: Jean Dujardin.

Reason: See Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Nominees: Jodie Foster, Carnage; Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids; Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn; Kate Winslet, Carnage.

Likely winner: Michelle Williams.

Reason: My heart tells me Charlize Theron – who gave the most flat-out fearless performance by any nominee in any category this year – but my head tells me Williams is the prohibitive odds-on favorite.

Best Animated Feature Film

Nominees: The Adventures of Tintin; Arthur Christmas; Cars 2; Puss in Boots; Rango.

Likely winner: The Adventures of Tintin.

Reason: It’s directed by Steven Spielberg and, perhaps more important, the source material remains immensely popular overseas. (This is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, remember?)

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: The Flowers of War; In the Land of Blood and Honey; The Kid With a Bike; A Separation; The Skin I Live In.

Likely Winner: In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Reason: Go ahead, admit it – just like the HFPA members, you, too, want to see Angelina Jolie slink onto the stage and pick up the prize for her directorial debut.

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn; Albert Brooks, Drive; Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Likely winner: Christopher Plummer.

Reason: Plummer is a living legend — no, seriously —and HFPA voters can be just as sentimental as members of the Motion Picture Academy. It doesn’t hurt that the guy has received near-unanimous raves for his performance.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Berenice Bejo, The Artist; Jessica Chastain, The Help; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Octavia Spencer, The Help; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

Likely winner: Berenice Bejo.

Reason: See Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Nominees: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; George Clooney, The Ides of March; Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Alexander Payne, The Descendants; Martin Scorsese, Hugo.

Likely winner: Michel Hazanavicius.

Reason: I would be overjoyed if Scorsese or Payne claimed the prize, and pleasantly surprised if Allen or Clooney won. (Actually, I strongly suspect Allen would be the winner if HFPA members thought he’d show up for the awards telecast.) But… well… see Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

Nominees: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March; Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne and Jim Rash, The Descendants; Stan Chervin, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Moneyball.

Likely winner: Midnight in Paris.

Reason: I’m predicting a razor-thin win over The Borg… er, I mean, The Artist… if only because Allen’s richly amusing and cleverly inventive script is at heart an American’s mash note to the French capital. (Again: This is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.)

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Nominees: Ludovic Bource, The Artist; Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Howard Shore, Hugo; John Williams, War Horse.

Likely winner: John Williams.

Reason: Irresistible force (brazenly manipulative War Horse musical score) trumps immovable object (The Artist).

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Nominees: “Hello Hello,” Gnomeo and Juliet; “The Keeper,” Machine Gun Preacher; “Lay Your Head Down,” Albert Nobbs; “The Living Proof,” The Help; “Masterpiece,” W.E.

Likely winner: “Masterpiece,” W.E.

Reason: You don’t seriously believe the HFPA members will pass up a chance to get Madonna on stage, do you?