The 2016 Golden Globe nominations that were announced this morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel officially set in motion the serious part of what’s casually known within the industry as “prestige season.” Smaller independent film groups have dispensed some awards, critics have handed out their own prizes and superlatives, contributing in their own ways to the emerging portrait of the movies that mattered over the last year, but it's after the nominations for the Golden Globes - the sometimes mocked, always coveted awards bestowed by the quirky Hollywood Foreign Press Association - that the public at large will start catching up with the movies they haven’t already seen and, more crucially for the films’ Oscar futures, that Academy voters will actually break out that pile of screeners they’ve all but avoided until now.
Carol, Todd Haynes’ 1950s-set lesbian romance, and Adam McKay’s The Big Short, his rollicking take on the 2008 financial meltdown, rode a wave of critical acclaim and came out with the most nominations today. But what of the rest of the field? Can Leonardo DiCaprio just sit back and coast for The Revenant because he’s perceived to be “due”? Can Jennifer Lawrence’s Joy break through just on the strength of that signature J-Law charm? Will someone, please, give Matt Damon an acting award? And whatever happened to Steve Jobs? Remember that?
Lynn Hirschberg, W’s editor large and resident Oscars soothsayer, the woman behind the February Movie Issue, who can look out into the great beyond and divine where Hollywood is headed and name its next big star (See Vikander, Alicia, two-time Golden Globe nominee today and W's April 2015 cover girl), an L.A. native who went to prom in the very room were the Globes are handed out, got on the phone to parse the nominations and hold court on everything you need to know about the state of the Oscars race.
So, Lynn, let's start with the question that everyone always asks about the Golden Globes. Do they matter?
They matter now. They matter because of the timing of the event, the fact that they establish front-runners for voting for the Oscars. They're the first awards show that has any significance and so they set a certain tone. This year, the Screen Actors Guild nominations came first but they were universally thought to be exceedingly strange. The Globes portend where the race is going and they reinforce those who have momentum. But this year is a very wild West kind of year. There's no particular front-runner. There's debates in each category.
In that way it's a little bit like the Republican primary. Nothing's been settled.
Well, there's front-runners the way there is Donald Trump, even if he is a kooky front-runner, he's still the front-runner. I would say there's no particular best picture front-runner. Even Spotlight I wouldn't call a front-runner in the way they've been in years past. And Leo's a front runner but not like in years past, like it's almost a foregone conclusion who's going to win. And the other categories are wide open, wide, wide open. There's no one movie that everyone's rallying around. There's no Titanic. There's not even a Gravity. There is only The Martian, which is kind of the popular choice. People really like it and Ridley [Scott] has never won an Oscar and people like Matt Damon, who's never won an acting Oscar. But I think it's Leo's year, that would be my guess.
Why is there this sudden reserve of goodwill for DiCaprio?
There isn't. He's never been a favorite. He always get nominated because he's a great actor but he's not a popular personality. He's not a George Clooney, he's not an Eddie Redmayne. Like, Bryan Cranston is popular. Leo is somebody people respect, and I admire him for that. It's like he’s due, that's the way that's phrased. And he probably he is. He's great in that movie, no question. It was not my kind of film. Beautiful but I was thinking about other things while it was going on. The performances were really strong. Tom Hardy was very good. If I had to pick the best actor of the year, it would be Tom Hardy for Legend, for Mad Max, and for The Revenant. I just don't see anyone else who had a year like that with the possible exception of Alicia Vikander.
Going into this morning, what were the main preconceptions about the state of the race?
Well, Spotlight is one of the front-runners. Carol is one of the front-runners. I was particularly happy about The Big Short. I think yesterday's SAG nominations threw everyone. Trumbo [the Hollywood biopic about Dalton Trumbo] did extremely well which surprised people. It had more nominations out of everyone at SAG. The two nominations for Helen Mirren were mystifying. It's an over the top performance. Lots of hats. I think people like Trumbo because it's about Hollywood and it's a way of giving a happy ending for an unhappy chapter. The big surprise is that The Hateful Eight only received two nominations. It was expected to do better.
What is it about The Big Short that's winning over all the smart, discerning critics, this commentary picture from someone who’s more known for broad comedies?
It's not a commentary. The Big Short is a great film. Adam McKay is not in the quote on quote club and he's in comedy. Being in comedy is a little bit like being female - you're pretty and you're nice and you're great but we don't take you as seriously as the important men in the room. Adam McKay has made a movie that's innovative and interesting and about something really important in a graceful way. It is funny, but his point is not humor. It's actually a very poignant film about what happens when you bet against the system and you're right but that means the system has failed. And the acting is amazing. Christian Bale is amazing. It's my favorite movie of the year, by far.
And he got nominated along with Steve Carell.
Both well deserved. The bizarre choice in that category is Mark Ruffalo. Not that it's bizarre he got nominated because he’s a great actor but Infinitely Polar Bear was about a man with a bipolar condition and it's very far from a comedy. I was surprised by Sylvester Stallone [for the Rocky sequel Creed] but he's got he sentimental vote. And I was thrilled about Paul Dano [for the Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy]. He's always been a great character actor and this has been a bit of a breakthrough year for him.
He's someone who's got momentum after today, having just won the Gotham Award and a bunch of critics’ prizes. Let's talk about some of the other movies that are ahead of the pack. Where is Spotlight in all of this?
Spotlight is a very popular movie because right now in the world there's so much turmoil, there's so many evil forces at work, that Spotlight is a movie that says, 'Here's the enemy, it's the priests abusing children and we found that enemy and we did good investigative journalism and the story has a happy ending.' That's very satisfying to moviegoers right now, the idea of a clear villain, a villain punished in an old school manner. And it's a nice procedural film.
[caption id="attachment_7390825" align="alignnone" width="530"] Michael Fassbender, Best Actor in Motion Picture, Drama, "Steve Jobs" and Charlize Theron of "Mad Max: Fury Road," Best Motion Picture and Best Director.
"Smash of the Titans." Photography by Mario Sorrenti, styled by Edward Enninful; W magazine June 2012.[/caption]
I don't hear you too enthused...
I'm not too enthusiastic about it, but it's a solid movie. It might have the momentum to carry it through to the Oscars because it doesn't have any particular constituencies. It's a little bit like Blood Type O as a movie. Everybody can use it as a donor. It's a very friendly film to vote for. Whereas Mad Max is violent and extreme and like a a comic book but brave and completely original. Spotlight is like a really good television drama of the week, but it's got the right values. Spotlight is like a good meal, Mad Max is like you've had too many drinks. And Carol is a very good film, but is also more divisive than Spotlight. And I have my problems with Room.
Which gets us to the snubs...
They didn't nominate Jacob [Tremblay]! To me, he's phenomenal. And they can add a sixth nominee. There's no rule with the Golden Globes. They have no rules. And I think it's possible Charlotte Rampling [not nominated for the drama 45 Years] could get in at the Oscars. But I'd also have to say that this year, thankfully, has been a very strong year for women. There's also the controversy over Rooney Mara [for Carol], because Rooney will probably be considered a supporting actress for the Oscars as opposed to a best actress. She herself feels she should be in the best actress because her part is very large but I have a feeling the Oscars will put her in supporting. The Weinstein Company was pushing Rooney to be in supporting but people [Academy Award voters] can decide she doesn't belong in that category. That may have hurt Jacob Tremblay. They've been putting him for supporting actor when in fact he's in the movie more than Brie Larson. I'm sure for the Oscars, for instance, they're going to try put Steve Carell and Christian Bale, or one of them, for supporting but at the Globes they felt they were best actor roles. Christian Bale only worked nine days on The Big Short, his part is definitely of an ensemble and you could easily see it in as a supporting role. He's brilliant in it. It's again one of my favorites. I love that movie.
It takes chance, it's innovative and, unlike Spotlight, the enemy is not as clear. Spotlight to me is a little bit too clean. But as I wrote in my opening essay for the February issue, Hollywood was looking for happy endings. In The Martian, the book, for instance, he does not come back to earth, but in the movie he does. Mad Max for all the war and mayhem has a happy ending. And Room has what you'd call a happy ending. The Big Short is the most complex of any of these films in the times we're living in and that makes it very, very interesting.
There were other movies that seemed to be losing steam but got a shot in the arm today, like Joy.
Well, Jennifer Lawrence is Jennifer Lawrence. If you can have her in the room you have her in the room. [The Hollywood Foreign Press] thinks a lot about the fact that they're a television show and they need to get ratings, they need to attract big names so they sometimes go after people the Oscars wouldn't necessarily. Johnny Depp is the biggest snub of all because Johnny Depp was nominated for a SAG award and he was phenomenal in Black Mass.
And it's not like the Golden Globes haven't been friendly to him in the past. They nominated him for The Tourist, for god’s sake.
And that's very surprising because he was very good in this movie. Tarantino was snubbed for director. The movie was snubbed for best picture. I think people are having a mixed reaction to it. Both Hateful Eight and The Revenant are what you'd call a snow Western. They probably cancel each other out a little bit. [The Globes] gravitated towards The Revenant because it's got Leo in it and because of its grandeur and it's also more of an epic in a certain way. The Revenant is man versus nature, Hateful is more man versus man.
Are the contours of the race more or less set, or are there still movies that could sneak up?
I don't think the race is set but I don't think there are any movies that haven't been released that will cause a sensation. The Big Short hasn't come out yet, Joy hasn't come out yet, The Revenant hasn't come out, which is the other important thing about the Globes. When these movies do come out on Christmas day, they come out with an endorsement and that's a powerful thing. When people are making choices they tend to pay attention to that in the prestige season that we’re in. If The Revenant has a number of nominations, they'll be more inclined to see a three-hour epic in the snow where a man is mauled by a bear. In terms of voters, things like the Globes and SAG are helpful because it just gives people a cheat-sheet. You wouldn't think of someone who's not on the list but then again you might. You get your screener of 45 years and decide you love Charlotte Rampling. The important thing is to get your screeners in front of voters during the holidays. Last year for instance, Selma didn't send out screeners and that was considered their big error in judgment.
Are you seeing any similar errors this time around?
I don't think so. The Big Short - that's also released Paramount - has already sent out their screeners.
So that bodes well for them.
I hope so, as I've made well clear.
I think it's wide open. I don't think theres any particular race that's done, with the possible exception of Leo. But even there, who knows? Last year we all thought Keaton would win and the lovely Eddie Redmayne won, thank the lord. The other thing I would say is even though Spotlight has all this momentum, traditionally something does not win best picture with no acting nominations because the acting branch is the biggest voting branch of the academy. Was [Aaron] Sorkin nominated for [Steve] Jobs? If he was, that's annoying.
Actually, he was. Sorry to say.
So, Sorkin, Quentin and who else? Oh, The Big Short got nominated too. Great!
This interview was edited and condensed.