Skip to main content
screen time

Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro star in The Irishman, which seems to be on its way to a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama).Netflix

Before we start to give the Golden Globe Awards any recognition or respect, consider this fact: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has this year given more nominations to the movie Cats than it has to female directors. The joke used to be that the HFPA – made up of about 80 international figures of mystery – was wildly out of touch and irrelevant. That’s still mostly the case, except the punchline got tired a long time ago. Yet due to the vagaries of timing, tradition and all-hands-on-brunch studio campaigning, the Golden Globes has still retained its pole position as the official kickoff to Oscar season and staked out its claim as the second-most important awards body in the movie business. Ahead of the 77th Golden Globe Awards ceremony this Sunday night, The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz plays along with the industry charade – what else are we going to talk about in the dead of January? – and offers his best guesses for who will win, and who should.

Best Picture (Drama)

What will win: The Irishman

The HFPA knows which way the winds are blowing among more serious and legitimate organizations, and would be wise to hoist Martin Scorsese’s epic to the top position. Plus, Netflix has been embarking on such an intense awards campaign for The Irishman – the streaming giant’s best hope at a Best Picture Oscar, far more so than last year’s contender Roma, for various reasons including star power, length and language – that I can easily see the Globes capitulating to the consensus pressure.

What should win: The Irishman

The great thing about this year's Globes is that, despite the organization's dubious representation and methods, it still managed to highlight a respectable slate (with some glaring exceptions, of course). Scorsese's latest, an extraordinarily ambitious and deeply affecting epic that touches on themes he's been investigating over the course of his entire career, deserves everyone's attention and praise. Even the HFPA's.

Best Picture (Musical or Comedy)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.Sony Pictures

What will win: Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

The HFPA loves nothing more than a made-in-Hollywood story about the ups and downs (but mostly ups!) of showbiz. Quentin Tarantino’s highly stylized fairy tale of life inside the wondrous film industry should be an easy pick, especially as the Globes can split the difference between this film and Scorsese’s with the sly categorization of Once Upon a Time as a “comedy.” (It is indeed funny, but ... well, I’m not going to pick now as the time to meticulously disagree with decades of Golden Globes decision-making.)

What should win: Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s zippy and clever meta-murder-mystery was one of the most enjoyable two hours I spent in a theatre this year. The “comedy” distinction is, again, a little suspect. But I also couldn’t stop laughing every time Knives Out’s Chris Evans opened his mouth. So let’s leave this one be.

Best Actress (Drama)

Who will win: Renee Zellweger, Judy

Another only-in-showbiz story that the HFPA should sink their teeth into with glee. Plus, Zellweger's seemingly had this award locked up since the otherwise tepidly received Judy Garland biopic debuted at TIFF in September.

Who should win: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

There is much to admire and even love about Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation – although I’m still coming to terms with the filmmaker’s chronological remixing – but so much of the film pivots on Ronan’s performance as Jo March. Ronan won the same Golden Globe just two years ago for Lady Bird, so there might be resistance to honouring her twice. But if someone is consistently excellent, shouldn’t we say so?

Best Actress (Musical or Comedy)

Who will win: Awkwafina, The Farewell

This is one of the oddest slate of nominees the HFPA has ever fielded – the eternally respected Cate Blanchett is here, but nominated for a film that was universally dismissed (Where’d You Go, Bernadette). Same goes for Emma Thompson (Late Night). And while Beanie Feldstein is delightful in Booksmart, it’s not a lead role so much as a co-starring one. Ditto Ana de Armas’s enjoyable turn in Knives Out. So that leaves Awkwafina, who boasts both a genuine starring role in the China-set family drama The Farewell along with a legitimately astounding performance.

Who should win: Awkwafina, The Farewell

The Farewell was one of the year’s best pictures, and despite the HFPA deciding to ignore director Lulu Wang, I will pin all the praise available on her star.

Best Actor (Drama)

Joaquin Phoenix played the titular villain in Todd Phillips's Joker.Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

Who will win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Phoenix underwent a remarkable physical transformation to play the Crown Prince of Crime, and HFPA voters will surely be persuaded by such dedication. Even if the rest of Todd Phillips’s film was as uninspired as Thomas Wayne’s Gotham City mayoral campaign.

Who should win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story

If only to recognize his tremendous 2019, the Globes should put Driver atop a pedestal. Not only did the actor anchor Noah Baumbach’s dramedy, he made government paperwork seem somewhat interesting in The Report and was about the only tolerable element of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy)

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

I just have a hunch that the HFPA might find empathy with DiCaprio’s turn as a movie-biz has-been who finds sudden career resurrection by making pals with those above his pay grade and skill level.

Who should win: Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Netflix is directing most of its awards resources toward Marriage Story, The Irishman and The Two Popes, but I can’t help but think the streaming service missed a prime opportunity to sell the comeback of Eddie Murphy. In Dolemite Is My Name, the actor elevates a familiar let’s-put-on-a-show comedy with engaging, irrepressible energy.

Best Director*

Who will win: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

I’ll admit that Scorsese could snatch the award from Tarantino, but I also think that the HFPA really wants to get Tarantino on-stage to deliver a speech, and this is an easier, less complicated way to achieve that than giving Once Upon a Time the night’s biggest victory.

Who should win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

The year’s best film received a decent number of nods from the Globes, but not nearly enough. If there was justice in Hollywood (I know, I know), Bong would be able to leap on the Globes’ podium Sunday night, ensuring his film would receive that much more deserved exposure.

(*For completely arbitrary reasons, this category encompasses both drama and musical/comedy categories. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, folks.)