Oscar Derby 2017: The Starting Line / Post Golden Globes

Another year, another awards front-runner to root against

Welcome back, darlings! Last night was the 74th Golden Globes, marking the beginning of this year’s Oscar Derby!

Yes — this means I have returned to once more keeping you updated on who is winning what! who is gaining (or losing) momentum! and most importantly, what I happen to think of it all! (Plus a few random/fun awards history facts along the way.)

Before we begin, I give you the annual reminder that The Golden Globes are nominated and awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and thus have zero nominating/voting crossover with AMPAS (i.e. “The Academy”). That being said, the Globes still do contribute to the perception of nominees’ chances/standing… which in turn can have very real repercussions in the impending Guild and Academy voting.  


As our 2017 Oscar Derby kicks off in earnest, I suspect that this year’s race will basically amount to much talk about Moonlight vs. La La Land (which were the respective Drama and Comedy/Musical Best Pictures last night.) Especially considering La La Land won everything it was nominated for (including Screenplay and Best Director), I’m planning to take bets now on how many articles in January and February will be written about the small, emotional black queer film vs. the glossy Hollywood ode to L.A. and what it says about both the film industry and our current cultural climate.  

At this stage in the derby, there are still a significant number of contenders I have yet to see. As such my commentary will be fairly minor, and focusing specifically on what I have seen so far. And then we can see if/how my opinions shift as I steadily catch up and see more over the next couple months. It’ll be fun!

So let’s get to it, shall we? Ready… Set…



Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Manchester By the Sea

 Despite Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea being named National Board of Review’s 2016 Best Film of the Year, both Moonlight  and La La Land have been the two films sweeping up the majority of the critics’ choice awards.

The Drama category (whether fairly or not) carries with it more prestige than Comedy/Musical, so that is in Moonlight’s favor. Against it, however, is the fact that La La Land won basically everything else. In fact, for once the Comedy/Musical category felt like the biggest award of the night simply because we’d watched La La Land win so much already. In comparison, the otherwise empty-handed Moonlight’s win felt like a toss-off extra award.

I am pretty much refusing any film directed by Mel Gibson at this point (sorry, Hacksaw Ridge!) Hopefully we’ll see Nocturnal Animals and/or Fences pop up in the Oscars instead. I honestly was mildly surprised to see those two missing here, but I suppose it’s reasonable that HFPA would go after Mel Gibson over Tom Ford (and they already invited Denzel in the acting category).

It would be nice to see Hell or High Water get in as an also-ran for Oscar Best Picture. I was surprised by how well-paced, straightforward and engaging it was. I’m not sure it possesses an ounce of narrative fat, and I appreciate that deeply.



20th Century Women
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

Yes, the “top” prize (and all the other prizes) went to Chazelle’s superficial, hollow musical mimicry.

… Oof. That came out slightly harsher than I anticipated.

I do believe I just wrote down ANGRY! in my notes here.1

Oh, and uh, one more thing: FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS IS NOT A COMEDY!!!



Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini

As much as I adore Moana, I am happy with a win for Zootopia here.

I was very afraid it would be Kubo and the Two Strings (also a National Board of Review winner) which, honestly, left me not only emotionally cold but extremely, profoundly irritated. If I want to be a touch mean I might say something along the lines of: the only thing it brings to the table is an assumption of “it’s not the Disney one and has a less common animation style, so automatically it is deeper/better. Right??” Nope! Not for me.

… I am immensely dubious of anything actually called My Life as a Zucchini.



The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

If you’ll remember from the start of last year’s Oscar Derby, I am going to be wildly hit or miss on the bulk of the foreign films. Once again I blame being a normal person with a schedule who lives in suburban northeast Ohio and finds it genuinely difficult to get to theaters showing movies that aren’t Marvel.  



Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)

Sorry, Barry Jenkins (the National Board of Review winner for Best Director)!

Ah yes, let us instead go with the director of the movie everyone is raving about! The movie that is more about being a love letter to pretty, “struggling” white people in L.A. so much more than it is about being an ode to old musicals! The movie with a shallow personality! The movie that feels unexpectedly disingenuous, and betrays a super heavy creative survivorship bias! (Because there’s nothing quite like a young white guy who went to Harvard having gorgeous, successful white people who aren’t even trained singers/dancers sing and dance about just believing in your dreams!)

… Oof. I did it again, didn’t I?? That came out harsher than I anticipated. Hmm… Methinks I feel a mildly irrational distaste for Damien Chazelle forming…



Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)
Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water)


Give this to literally any other movie in that list.



Amy Adams (Arrival)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Nega (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Have yet to a single one of these so… no opinion!

Although interesting fact: Isabelle Huppert has been winning a lot of critics’ awards. But she is not nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. It’s a curious dent in her path to Oscar.

I will say I wouldn’t be surprised if Amy Adams gets her Oscar nomination for an unofficial dual hit of Arrival and Nocturnal Animals.



Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply)
Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Umm… Emma Stone was maybe the best part of La La Land…? By sheer charm she basically willed a character into an almost-being that really did not exist in the writing. So there’s that. 



Colin Farrell  (The Lobster)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Jonah Hill (War Dogs)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Gosling, usually a very charismatic performer, possessed surprisingly little charisma as a song and dance lead. … Probably because even he couldn’t rescue the character of Sebastian from being an obnoxious asshole… And also probably because he can neither sing nor dance very well. Sure — he danced capably, but it was choreography clearly designed for people who aren’t trained dancers, and it always looked like he and Emma Stone were just trying to remember their steps.

I have less than zero interest in War Dogs, am fairly indifferent to Deadpool, and thoroughly despised The Lobster (but I suppose Farrell was good in it?)

Apparently that leaves me with Hugh Grant. I liked him in Florence Foster Jenkins a lot. I could probably even make a reasonable case that the story was somewhat more about his character. … Still not a comedy though!



Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea)
Joel Edgerton (Loving)
 Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)




Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea)

Nothing snarky. Go Viola Davis.

Also: three black women nominated in one category. Kudos, HFPA. Will this carry over into Oscar race though??



Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

So my original comment was going to merely be: “I hope Mahershala Ali has a good Oscar speech prepared for his win by the end of February…” Seriously — I had it already typed up and plugged into the post. 




Nicholas Britell (Moonlight)
Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)
Jóhann Jóhannsson (Arrival)
Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka (Lion)
Pharrell Williams & Benjamin Wallfisch w/ Hans Zimmer (Hidden Figures)

I am momentarily out of rage all-caps. Just imagine I’m seething instead.



“Can’t Stop the Feeling” (Trolls)
“City of Stars” (La La Land)
“Faith” (Faith)
“Gold” (Gold)
“How Far I’ll Go” (Moana) 

But it’s not even the best song!!! IN A MOVIE OF MEDIOCRE SONGS!!!



I think, folks, you may have watched me, throughout this one post, sink even deeper into my (less mildly now) irrational distaste for Chazelle and La La Land. Perhaps this was inevitable. It’s not quite Oscar Derby without a front-runner fave that I hate (cough cough The Big Short).

Well, you’ve been warned now — Buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy couple months!


Couple more random thoughts from the rest of the night:

  • Major major cheers for Tracee Ellis Ross getting Best Actress in TV Series Comedy/Musical! I confess I was rooting for Issa Rae by a hair… but Ross’ role as Rainbow Johnson in black-ish is one of my favorite performances on one of my favorite running shows. I’m super happy she won.
  • So we’re just going to assume that The People vs. OJ Simpson and The Night Manager were the only two Limited Series / TV Movie HFPA watched, right?
  • For a brief moment Fallon’s opening number was the most I’ve ever been amused by Kit Harrington. Then he woke up again and ruined it.


You can view a full list of winners here.

Next up awards-wise is going to be the guild awards at the end of January, kicking off with the PGAs and SAGs. But before that I will see you for the 2017 Academy Award nominations!

  1. And beside my note, for posterity reasons, let it be known that fellow Moose Cole scribbled down “Rage! No! Fuck that shit! Bullshit! Aaaarrrrgghh!”