The glittering ceremony that stands for everything the Academy awards do not (upclose, TV series awards, no technical awards, alcohol and food is a must) was once again hosted by the inimitable Tina Fey and hysterical Amy Poehler– who even doubled up as an award winner on Sunday night.
While the description of the ceremony, its golden carpet and outfits can be left to primetime television- this will be a lowdown and mild analysis of the major winners of the night; some expected and so many surprises. Despite there being more drunk people at the Beverly Hilton than a routine Punjabi wedding in Vasant Kunj, the night belonged to the artists and their works. 2013 was, by all standards, an exceptional year for cinema all over the world (except India). American Television, famed for its rising levels of quality dramatic content, was rewarded too- in a night that will go down as more than a mere dress rehearsal for the Oscars.
While it is true that most winners at the Globes do not go on to win an Oscar- as if evident from recent trends- the winners here could not be denied their gold; they deserved the attention and fanfare for the exceptional year that they have created.
It is not often that atleast 4 films are favorites for the ‘best motion picture’ award- which is why the Golden Globe format of having two awards for Best Picture (Drama, Musical or Comedy) makes more sense in a year like this.
Best Motion Picture- Musical Or Comedy
Hot on the heels of the charming ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ in 2012, David ‘O Russell has received a mega boost at the beginning of awards season. His latest ‘American Hustle’- a borderline Scorsese representation of the world of conmen, politicians and gangsters in 1970s Jersey- has an eclectic cast that could very well walk away with most ensemble acting awards this year. Apart from usual brilliant suspects Christian Bale (unrecognizable with 40 extra pounds and balding), Jennifer Lawrence (the real housewife of New Jersey), a crazed Bradley Cooper (obsessive psychotic cop) as well as De Niro (of course, a gangster cameo), the surprisingly sultry Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner join in to give us one of the most taut, hysterical and well-acted efforts of 2013. While Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ was the favorite to win this category, not many will complain about O’ Russell’s hot streak and Lawrence’s potentially Oscar-winning performance.
Personal Opinion: Spike Jonze’s gorgeous little love story ‘Her’; in profound sensibilities, head and shoulders above any major big budget effort of the year. The film is closer to reality than ever before.
Best Motion Picture- Drama
12 Years A Slave
Decision: No Surprise
Another director on a hot streak Steve McQueen, will do down as one of the most influential directors of his generation. He becomes the only black man to win this category at the Globes, this time, for his powerful antebellum Slave drama ’12 Years A Slave’ featuring a draining performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film was ignored for all the other major 6 categories, instead going on to win the biggest of them all. McQueen is known to get the best out of his actors, testing them to the limit, and Ejiofor will be one of the dark horses to win at the Oscars; if nothing, only for a single long-shot scene that has him coming to terms with his pathetic state while joining in a funeral song for one of his fallen comrades. The star cast is unparalleled, but it is the sheer relentlessness and strength of McQueen’s brutal storytelling that makes the viewers squirmy and uncomfortable for its entire running time. While it does bear dramatic shades of Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’, this bleak uncompromisingly dark portrayal of one Upstate New York man’s struggle through 12 years of slavery, definitely fills all the check boxes for Oscar-bait. Though I would like to believe that this film is bigger than the awards it wins.
Personal Opinion: Gravity; for the sheer gravity of what Cuaron and his team managed to pull off. Easily, the most stunning cinematic experience of the year. But often, that isn’t what jury voters are looking for. ‘Rush’ would fall in the same category; lives up to its name with its heart pumping and adrenalin driven representation of the rivalry between 70s F1 drivers Lauda and Hunt.
Best Actor In A Motion Picture (Drama)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Easily the biggest surprise of the night, McConaughey beat out bigger contenders like Hanks and Redford to win the most coveted award. While not many have seen the film in question, McConaughey has been giving in some commanding performances lately; not least in a small cameo in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’, his stripper act in ‘Magic Mike’ and his 2012 performance in ‘Mud’. After being cast as Nolan’s new lead in ‘Interstellar’, this is the cherry on his cake, and his comeback from the depths of everyday Romcoms is finally complete. His wide-eyed Texan drawl may not appeal to many that dismiss him as the same guy in every film, but that same guy (the real Aids-inflicted ‘American Hustler’ Ron Woodroof and his struggle with the medical system) has now won over the American Foreign Press Jury in a remarkable way. This does not still make a favorite for the Academy Award, but nevertheless, this is an encouraging sign for a historically top-heavy category at the other awards functions.
Personal Opinion: Tom Hanks; only for the last 10 minutes of ‘Captain Phillips’, where the Captain is still in shock. Hanks puts 25 years of his acting experience on the line and gives us his most outstanding 10 minutes of his illustrious career.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Decision: No Surprise
This was long time in the coming; and even though Dicaprio had previously won a Globe for Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’, he has grown leaps and bounds as an actor with every performance; breaking barriers and overpowering his own instincts to be the Wolf in Scorsese’s latest biopic. Leo has been robbed of a few Academy Awards, he deserved it for his stunning South African drawl in ‘Blood Diamond’ and as Howard Hughes in ‘Aviator’, he was also the favorite for best supporting actor for ‘Django Unchained’. His wait is expected to be prolonged at this years’ Oscars too, but that does not diminish the sheer audacity of his performance here. There is one particular drug-fueled scene that will, down the years, be remembered as his finest 10 minutes on screen.
Personal Opinion: Jacquin Phoenix for ‘Her’; his endearing portrayal as a lovelorn lonely writer in love with his new operating system (voice) is so sad and moving that you wonder if there is any role at all he can’t enact.
Best Actress In a Motion Picture (Drama)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Decision: No Surprise
The only award that is a sure shot at the Oscars. There are no other favorites despite names like Judi Dench (closest contender) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity). Cate is the Meryl Streep of this generation; and her portrayal as a high-strung in-denial upper-class wife in Woody Allen’s latest is easily the finest female performance of the year. The scenes where she ends up talking to herself could have come off as clichéd and forced, but only Blanchett could make it seem as startling and disturbing as it seems.
Personal Opinion: Sandra Bullock; for her physical commitment to a sapping role that had her in a cubicle for 10 hours a day on set with nobody to talk to but herself. She continues to surprise with her transformation from romcom favorite to a dramatic contender.
Best Actress In a Motion Picture (Musical Or Comedy)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Decision: No Surprise
‘American Hustle’ looks like this year’s ‘Argo’, and this was its third major award of the night. Amy Adams as the sensuous mistress to Bale’s character turned eyebrows even though she shared screen space with her more illustrious colleagues. It is a star-driven vehicle based in award-voters favorite era (greasy 70s), so there is no reason to think that there was any better performance in the spotlight this year.
Personal Opinion: Julie Delpy for ‘Before Midnight’; only because it would be a fitting end to one of America’s finest trilogies and most loved characters.
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Decision: No Surprise
After Ang Lee’s famous win at the Oscars last year, there was no way Cuaron was going to be ignored for an epic of similar scale set in space. His gravity-defying, jaw-dropping command over his craft and the sheer technical skills and teamwork needed to create the genre-bending thriller deserved to be rewarded. Expect his masterpiece to sweep every technical category at the Oscars (Sound design, Visual Effects, Editing, perhaps background score), and to be a major contender for best film with ‘12 Years a Slave’.
Personal Opinion: Nobody else in the running. ‘Gravity’ was the spectacle of the year and its Captain needs to be acknowledged.