Few awards mean more to cinephiles the world over than the Golden Globes. In a year where the field is wide open, speculation as to who will take home the big prizes for Best Actor and Actress in Dramatic and Comedic/Musical roles is hotter than ever.
So, who are the main contenders and what kind of buzz do they bring?
Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as the titular supervillain in Joker has made him not just the runaway favorite for the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Drama) but the performance of the year in any category. “We live in a society” and Phoenix’s ability to dig deep into the failures of empathy and connection that create the monsters that haunt that society in an all-too-real today has won him countless praise.
And at -500, far ahead of the pack odds-wise on sites such as Unibet, it should net him Golden Globe gold.
If anyone has a shot of scoring what would be a huge upset in beating out Phoenix, it’s Adam Driver with his explosive turn as a director in a ferocious cross-continental fight with his actress wife in Marriage Story. While Driver is a longshot odds-wise at +350 — as is Christian Bale in the car-lover’s cinematic dream Ford v. Ferrari at a distant +1400 — Phoenix’s exceptional year should not overshadow the great work that they’ve brought to these impactful roles.
Marriage Story is unique among the top award-seeking films in that both of its leads are hot contenders for the top prize. Scarlett Johansson matches Adam Driver stride for stride in the clash of desires, regrets, and resulting cinematic fireworks that characterize the film; like Driver, Johannson has been nominated for the top award. What’s more, while — with all due credit to Driver and his fellow nominees — Best Actor is Phoenix’s award to lose, Best Actress (Drama) is more wide open, giving Johannson a better shot at coming up golden.
The odds reflect that, with Johannson sitting at +300. That’s second place, but the distance between her and Rene Zellweger for Judy (500 points, as the latter currently sits at -200) makes a potential upset far more likely. That is especially true given the fact that, the two actresses’ brilliant performances notwithstanding, Marriage Story has gotten better Critical Scores than Judy (83%) on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes (95%).
The two are virtually tied in Audience Score but it’s critics who vote, giving Johannson, in a critic-friendly film such as Marriage Story, a better chance of scoring an upset than a film such as Harriet, a Harriet Tubman biopic starring Cynthia Erivo, who is also up for the award and presently sitting at +550. Biopics are definitely the right genre to get you nominated, with three of five nominees.
The other is Charlize Theron (sitting at +650) as Megyn Kelly in the contemporaneous biopic Bombshell, on the Roger Ailes/sexual harassment scandal at Fox News), in that category.
However, Critic scores for Harriet and Bombshell sit in the mid-60% to 70% range on Rotten Tomatoes. That, combined with the timely yet controversial nature of the content of Bombshell and Harriet’s messaging, may hamper their chances, leaving it a two-horse race between Zellweger and Johannson.
From genre to subject matter to critical reception, a whole host of factors impact every awards season.
The only question remains is how they’ll mix together this year in the alchemic process of turning votes into a Golden Globe win.