2015 was a noteworthy year for cinema purely in terms of variety, when it came to the year’s most critically-acclaimed film releases. Something like the Steven Spielberg historical drama, Bridge of Spies earned the applause and admiration that one expects when a prestigious Spielberg picture is produced nowadays (which is not to say the film doesn’t deserve it, per se), but even revivals of decades-old pop franchises like Star Wars and Mad Max were equally enthusiastically received (more so in certain cases) as the year’s general crop of arthouse offerings, auteur efforts, and Oscar-baiting end of year dramas.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association intends to honor the best of the best in film and television alike during the upcoming 73rd Golden Globes Awards Ceremony, though the current awards season race is pretty open when it comes to movies. As such, it’ll be trickier than usual to accurately predict which nominees (films, actors/actresses, and behind the scenes talent) will walk away as the winners in their respective categories.
Nevertheless, we’ll take a shot at guessing who and what will take which awards – using a very un-scientific and more than a little subjective method – while at the same time offering some thoughts on who (and what films) should be recognized at the 2016 Golden Globes.
Motion Picture, Drama
Predicted Winner: Spotlight
There’s not a clear front-runner in the awards season race (culminating with Oscar night) in 2016 like there has been in some years past, but Tom McCarthy’s docudrama on the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse coverup has gained momentum of late. The HFPA’s own Best Drama selections generally aren’t too surprising (with recent winners including Boyhood and 12 Years a Slave) and McCarthy’s film boasts that perfect combination of topical subject matter and critical darling status that suggests it will take home the big prize (and maybe then some) at the Golden Globes.
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller’s Mad Max sequel is the sort of genre fare that typically doesn’t even get nominated for Best Drama at the Golden Globes, much less stand a chance of winning over the traditional contenders. Nevertheless, Fury Road is the rare franchise revival that has transcended its origins (an “Ozploitation” action film series) during awards season, having been recognized by the National Board of Review and the Critics Choice awards, among others. While the HFPA could well surprise, Fury Road is still unlikely to land a Best Drama win at the Golden Globes, for the reasons mentioned.
Potential Upset: Carol
Director Todd Haynes’ period drama about the love affair between two women has earned more than its fair share of critical acclaim for everything from its leads’ performances to its art direction, yet Carol remains a dark horse candidate when it comes to the overall awards season race. The movie has been recognized by the Toronto and Austin film critic circles and racked up multiple nominations at events like the Independent Spirit Awards, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that it could sneak it and take the Best Drama prize at the Golden Globes.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Brooklyn, Sicario
Brooklyn and Sicario are among the films nominated at the 2016 Producers Guild Awards and there’s a reasonable chance that both of these critically-acclaimed titles will be nominated for Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards too. However, it’s a competitive year in the drama category, so it was inevitable that not every critical darling would make the cut at the Golden Globes with only five slots available.
Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Predicted Winner: The Martian
Some have taken issue with the idea that The Martian is a “comedy”, but the good-humored tale of one astronaut’s efforts to stay alive (while he’s trapped and alone on the red planet) is one of 2015’s most widely acclaimed movies, in addition to being a major commercial success (with a worldwide box office take that sits close to $600 million). Competition in the comedy category isn’t as strong as the drama line-up either, which makes director Ridley Scott’s space adventure the obvious pick to win here at the Golden Globes.
Should Win: The Martian
Joy isn’t generally regarded as being filmmaker David O. Russell’s best work, while neither Trainwreck nor Spy necessarily breaks the mold when it comes to the comedy moviemaking approach of directors Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, respectively. By comparison, it is widely agreed that The Martian is Ridley Scott’s best work in several years, in addition to being an impressive piece of storytelling solely on its own terms. Again, it’s difficult to imagine that The Martian won’t be crowned Best Comedy by the HFPA (and with good reason), when all is said and done.
Potential Upset: The Big Short
The Best Comedy contender that does have a chance of sneaking in and taking the prize away from The Martian is The Big Short, Adam McKay’s inventive comical take on author Michael Phillips’ decidedly complicated non-fiction book about those who foresaw the 2007 housing market collapse. It’s perhaps a long shot but then again, so was the idea that the director of Anchorman would deliver a film that will likely end up being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, for that matter.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Inside Out, The Hateful Eight
Yes, Pixar’s Inside Out is nominated for Best Animated Feature, but it would have been nice to see the HFPA nominate the critically-acclaimed computer animated movie for Best Comedy too – seeing as that doesn’t carry the qualifier of being the best animated film of the year. And if both The Martian and the decidedly serious Joy count as “comedies”, then so does Quentin Tarantino’s darkly funny single-setting western/murder mystery, The Hateful Eight.
Best Director, Motion Picture
Nominees: Todd Haynes (Carol), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Ridley Scott (The Martian)
Predicted Winner: Ridley Scott
Filmmaking legend Ridley Scott has yet to win either a Golden Globe or an Oscar for directing, despite being nominated in the past for such films as Gladiator (which was crowned Best Drama at the Golden Globes in 2001). Scott not only has the benefit of an esteemed filmmaking career under his belt, but his directorial work on The Martian is widely considered to be among the best for 2015 film releases in general. For these reasons, it’s easy to imagine that the HFPA will recognize Scott for his direction on Golden Globes night.
Should Win: George Miller
Whether you feel Mad Max: Fury Road is vastly overrated or worthy of the praise that it has received during the awards season thus far, there’s no denying that the film manages to impress simply from a directorial perspective. George Miller spent years fine-tuning the movie’s action-driven plot and visual design; as a result, Fury Road feels surprisingly intimate for a movie that was made on a nine-figure budget and features nearly as many car crashes/explosions as it does lines of dialogue. That’s quite the accomplishment, on its own.
Potential Upset: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) won Best Director at the 2015 Academy Awards, but Iñárritu was only recognized for his contributions to the film’s script, not his direction, at the Golden Globes that year. The Revenant was in many ways an equally ambitious undertaking by the filmmaker, but because the western revenge thriller isn’t generating the same buzz as Birdman, Iñárritu’s winning for The Revenant would be somewhat unexpected – even after the HFPA didn’t recognized his directorial work on Birdman last year.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Denis Villeneuve (Sicario)
Villeneuve’s horrifying drama/thriller about drug crime on the U.S./Mexico border has been criticized for certain flaws with its screenplay, but the direction on Sicario very much packs a punch – and is arguably as much (if not a bigger) highlight of the film than the direction on such performance driven features as Spotlight. Sicario could end up edging one of those films out for a Best Director nod at the Oscars this year, for related reasons.
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Nominees: Emma Donahue, Room; Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer, Spotlight; Charles Randolph/Adam McKay, The Big Short; Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs; Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
Predicted Winner: Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer
Spotlight, as mentioned before, is the current front-runner in the Best Drama category – and though the film is well-directed, arguably the screenwriting and performances are its strongest elements. Both Sorkin and Tarantino are revered screenwriters who have been honored by the HFPA in the past and in turn present strong competition, but neither Steve Jobs nor Hateful Eight are widely regarded as being as inventive from a storytelling perspective as some of their previous work.
Should Win: Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer
Emma Donahue successfully turned her own Room source novel into a proper cinematic narrative, while Charles Randolph and Adam McKay managed to adapt a very un-cinematic book into a unique filmgoing experience. Nevertheless, the Spotlight screenplay by McCarthy and Singer does an excellent job of doing what the best investigative journalists do: telling the story without going overboard on the embellishments.
Potential Upset: Charles Randolph/Adam McKay
Randolph and McKay’s script for The Big Short – complete with fourth-wall breaking, financial market jargon delivered in the screwball comedy style, and special celebrity cameos that are simultaneously funny and informative – certainly bucks convention in a good way, as many have noticed. If there’s one area where The Big Short has the best shot at snagging an award on Golden Globes night, it’s arguably in the area of screenwriting.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Drew Goddard, The Martian
While there’s a reasonable chance several people who worked on The Martian will be honored during the 2016 Golden Globes ceremony, screenwriter Drew Goddard (who adapted Andy Weir’s The Martian source novel) will not be among them. Goddard’s adapted script deserves credit for effectively carrying over the wit and humanism of Weir’s book, while at the same time stream-lining its scientific know-how and making the story more cinematic. Not to worry though, Goddard’s a shoo-in to land a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.
Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Rooney Mara, Carol; Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn; Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett has won Best Actress at the Golden Globes three times in the past (most recently in 2014 for Blue Jasmine), but there is a strong possibility that she will win yet again for her leading role in Carol. Blanchett’s competing against her own costar in the film, Rooney Mara, but of the pair it’s the Oscar-winner who seems to have picked up more momentum in critics circle voting and selections thus far. That being said, Blanchett isn’t a front-runner in the category the way she was back in 2014, when she had yet to take home a Best Actress Oscar.
Should Win: Saoirse Ronan
After becoming an Oscar-nominee in her mid-teens, 2016 is the first time Saoirse Ronan has been nominated for a Golden Globe since her turn in Atonement. Ronan has continued to deliver compelling leading turns (Hanna, Byzantium) and endearing supporting performances alike (The Grand Budapest Hotel) in the years since then, with her work as an Irish immigrant getting settled in 1950s America in Brooklyn representing one of her more under-stated, yet complex turns yet. No doubt though, Ronan’s career is just getting started and she will be recognized by the HFPA one day.
Potential Upset: Brie Larson
Brie Larson has built up her “indie film cred” with turns in such movies as Greenberg, Short Term 12, and The Spectacular Now in recent years, but her performance in Room (in which Larson and Jacob Tremblay are the only people seen onscreen for a good deal of the movie’s running time) has already earned Larson a number of awards and much in the way of recognition from critics. If Larson ends up taking the Golden Globe instead of Blanchett, that will cement her status as the front-runner for the Oscars this year, too.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
The Best Actress (Drama) field is a competitive one this year and there’s really not a weak link in the chain. Nevertheless, it would’ve been nice if there had been room for Rachel McAdams to land a Golden Globe nod for her un-flashy, yet effective and meaningful, turn as a seasoned journalist and reporter in Spotlight, all the same.
Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs; Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl; Will Smith, Concussion
Predicted Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio
All the talk about Leonardo DiCaprio braving hypothermia-inducing temperatures, fighting CGI bears, and eating a raw bison liver aside, The Revenant boasts an excellent, largely wordless, performance from DiCaprio – one that’s worlds apart from his Golden Globe-winning turn as a fast-talking scumball in The Wolf of Wall Street, a couple years ago. Matthew McConaughey ended up winning the Best Actor Oscar over DiCaprio at the Oscars that year, and there’s a real possibility Matt Damon will do the same at the Academy Awards this year. As far as the Golden Globes go, though, DiCaprio is the easy pick for Best Actor in a Drama.
Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Again, DiCaprio’s in fine company in this category, but none of his competitors delivered a performance that has gotten as much attention as DiCaprio’s work playing the rugged mountain man Hugh Glass. Plus, he has a long resume of credible work under his belt, so DiCaprio winning for The Revenant could be as much in recognition of that as anything else.
Potential Upset: Eddie Redmayne
Redmayne won both a Golden Globe and Oscar in 2015 for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but he could sneak in and take home another globe for his turn as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in 2016 too. After all, Jennifer Lawrence won Golden Globes back to back in 2013 and 2014 (for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, admittedly), and there has been similar cases of back to back winners before. Nevertheless, at this stage Redmayne winning over DiCaprio would be an upset.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Tom Hardy, Legend
Legend may not be the most memorable biography about a real-life gangster (make that gangsters), but Tom Hardy’s turn as the Twin crime bosses Reggie and Ronnie Kray is easily the film’s highlight. It’s also a notable case of an actor having to play off himself while at the same time crafting multi-faceted portraits of two real-world characters.
Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Nominees: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy; Amy Schumer, Trainwreck; Melissa McCarthy, Spy; Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van; Lily Tomlin, Grandma
Predicted Winner: Amy Schumer
2015 was a big year for Amy Schumer, what with her having picked up lots of acclaim and awards alike (including an Emmy) for her own variety comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, in addition to headlining the critically-acclaimed comedy/drama Trainwreck (based on her own original script). It remains to be seen if Schumer lands an Oscar nomination for her turn in director Judd Apatow’s latest film (where she plays a professional writer who’s quite the emotional mess), but she appears to be the front-runner at the Golden Globes.
Should Win: Amy Schumer
Jennifer Lawrence and Maggie Smith have both won multiple Golden Globes already, but most seem to agree that their latest performances (while solid enough in their own right) aren’t their best. McCarthy landed her first Golden Globe this year too though as mentioned before, Schumer shown brighter in 2015 than the rest here and chances are good that the HFPA will recognize her for it.
Potential Upset: Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin won a Golden Globe as part of the Short Cuts ensemble back in 1993, but has yet to be recognized by the HFPA for a solo performance. Tomlin received two Golden Globe nominations this year – for Grandma as well as for the TV series Grace and Frankie – and it’s possible that her lauded performance as an acerbic grandmother in the former will go over better with the Golden Globes voters than those of her peers, in part thanks to her long-standing impressive body of work.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Anne Hathaway, The Intern
Yes, The Intern itself isn’t exactly Best Comedy-worthy material, but Anne Hathaway still manages to deliver a pleasant mix of charm and vulnerability in the film, bringing some dramatic weightiness and substance to what is otherwise a fluffy workplace comedy.
Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Nominees: Christian Bale, The Big Short; Steve Carell, The Big Short; Matt Damon, The Martian; Al Pacino, Danny Collins; Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear
Predicted Winner: Matt Damon
Matt Damon puts on a one-man show for nearly all of his scenes in The Martian and his charismatic performance as astronaut Mark Watney has already brought Damon more than his fair share of critical acclaim and accolades already. Damon, as mentioned before, is the one actor who looks to challenge DiCaprio for the Best Actor Oscar this year – but seeing as the pair are not competing directly against one another at the Golden Globes, it’s hard to imagine Damon won’t snag a globe at this awards show.
Should Win: Matt Damon
Christian Bale and Steve Carell provide the heart and soul of The Big Short, while Al Pacino and Mark Ruffalo likewise do fine work in Danny Collins and Infinitely Polar Bear. Nonetheless, many would argue that Damon is simply better in The Martian – and at the very least, he’s gotten a lot more attention for his work in the Ridley Scott sci-fi feature than any of his competitors in the Best Actor, Comedy/Musical category have for their movies this year.
Potential Upset: Steve Carell
Christian Bale has both been nominated (and won) at the Golden Globes before, as has Steve Carell – though, the latter only for his work on The Office and not any of his performances on the big screen. It seems unlikely that either of those two will win for his work on The Big Short at the 2016 Golden Globes – but in the case of an upset, Carrell has the advantage (going by word of mouth surrounding his more dramatic performance in Adam McKay’s film).
Should’ve Been a Contender: Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
There are several noteworthy performances in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but the film once again demonstrates that there are few actors who know how to deliver Tarantino dialogue just right like Samuel L. Jackson does (for more proof of that, see that SLJ monologue from The Hateful Eight).
Best Animated Feature
Predicted Winner: Inside Out
It’s a pretty terrific year for animation when The Good Dinosaur is arguably the weakest film among the Golden Globe nominees for Best Animated Feature. Nevertheless, it is a different original Pixar offering that remains the front-runner to be recognized by the HFPA on its way to – in all likelihood – Oscar glory; namely, the one that people were buzzing about for most of 2015, Inside Out. The film’s co-director/writer, Peter Docter also helmed the Golden Globe-winning Up back in 2010, so this will be victory number two for the animation filmmaker.
Should Win: Inside Out
While Shaun the Sheep is a very entertaining stop-motion animated throwback to the silent comedy era and The Peanuts Movie manages to bring the Peanuts world to life with shiny and shimmering 3D animation, it’s Inside Out that offers the best combination of clever humor, visual splendor, dramatic poignance, and thoughtful subject matter. Of course, there is one film that does pose a challenge, since it has many of the same qualities as that Pixar movie…
Potential Upset: Anomalisa
Anomalisa uses stop-motion animation to bring another story from the mind of Charlie Kaufman to life, and the result is a moving, cerebral, and introspective work of animated filmmaking with appeal to the arthouse crowd to spare. This makes Anomalisa the feature that has a proper shot at securing the top prize instead of Inside Out, at both the 2016 Golden Globes and the Oscars ceremony. Time will tell, of course.
Should’ve Been a Contender: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Kidding, folks… or am I?
Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture
Predicted Winner: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue is a foul-mouthed and otherwise, well, foul person surrounded by a pack of foul people in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but thanks to Leigh the character ends up being one of the most compelling rotten apples of the lot – despite not speaking all that much through most of the film. However, Leigh very much makes every word that Daisy does say (and every deranged expression that she makes) count, and for that she’s very certainly worthy of recognition.
Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh
The sheer number of times that Leigh as Daisy Domergue gets brutally clocked in the face aside, her performance from The Hateful Eight does (arguably) stick with you well much better than much of the competition here. Similarly, while all of the Best Supporting Actresses candidates did respectable work this year, Leigh was the one who went the furthest outside her wheelhouse – showing a side of her that moviegoers simply have never seen before.
Potential Upset: Alicia Vikander
2015 was a breakout year for Alicia Vikander, between her acclaimed turns in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina (and even her tongue in cheek performance for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., to a lesser degree). Nevertheless, it’s her turn as an artificial intelligence being in the latter film that has gotten Vikander a lot of attention – enough so that it’s plausible that the HFPA shall wind up handing the Best Supporting Actress trophy to her, instead of Leigh or any of the other contenders.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Tessa Thompson, Creed
Much of the heart and soul of Creed comes not just from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (though they are very important all the same), but also Tessa Thompson as the romantic counter-part to Jordan’s Adonis Creed. Between her work here and in the film Dear White People though, it’s pretty clear that Thompson has a bright future ahead of herself regardless.
Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture
Predicted Winner: Paul Dano
Paul Dano has been doing respectable work on the indie/arthouse film circuit for close to a decade now (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, and so forth), and he’s quietly picked up a number of award wins and nominations already, for his turn in the biopic about the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy. 2016 could be the year that Dano takes home a Golden Globe too, though given the heavy-hitting competition (Idris Elba, Michael Shannon, and so on) an “upset” is also conceivable here.
Should Win: Mark Rylance
Tom Hanks is solid as ever playing the noble-minded protagonist in director Steven Spielberg’s Cold War drama/thriller Bridge of Spies, but it’s his costar Mark Rylance (as a soft-spoken, yet meticulous, Soviet spy) who ends up stealing the show. Rylance handles the home-spun wit of the Coen Brothers’ script as gracefully as he does the film’s moments of Spielbergian sentimentality; it’s now all the more obvious why Spielberg wasted no time in recruiting the actor to co-headline his next movie too (re: The BFG).
Potential Upset: Sylvester Stallone
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Sylvester Stallone’s performances an an older Rocky Balboa who must wrestle with his own mortality in Creed, in part because the Rocky spinoff itself has been such a popular discussion topic among cinephiles. Stallone’s been a stranger to the annual film awards season conversations ever since his original performance as Rocky in the 1970s – question is, will the HFPA change face and honor him with more than just a nomination in 2016?
Should’ve Been a Contender: Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight features an ensemble of character actors working at the top of their games (as was mentioned before), though Walton Goggins is especially great at oscillating between moments of extremely bleak humor and pathos alike while playing the (supposed) Sheriff Chris Mannix in Tarantino’s strange western.
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Nominees: Carter Burwell, Carol; Alexandre Desplat, The Danish Girl; Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight; Daniel Pemberton, Steve Jobs; Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto, The Revenant
Predicted Winner: Ennio Morricone
Should Win: Ennio Morricone
Believe it or not, legendary composer Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Once Upon a Time in America; The Untouchables; and so on) has only ever won an Honorary Academy Award even after more than fifty years of scoring films. Morricone’s The Hateful Eight is the perfect mood-setter for Tarantino’s movie on its own terms, but one imagines that his legacy could further encourage the HFPA to recognize Morricone for his efforts in 2016.
Best Foreign Language Film
Nominees: The Brand New Testament, The Club, The Fencer, Mustang, Son of Saul
Predicted Winner: Son of Saul
Should Win: Son of Saul
There’s not necessarily a front-runner for Best Foreign Language Film at either the Golden Globes or Oscars this year, but sometimes even having “front-runner” status in this category doesn’t mean much – nor does generating buzz and controversy necessarily help, either (see Blue is the Warmest Color for a past example). Hence, while Son of Saul and Mustang are both all but universally acclaimed, neither one is a surefire winner in this Golden Globes category.
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
Predicted Winner: “See You Again”, Furious 7, by Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar, Charlie Puth, and Cameron Thomaz
Should Win: “See You Again”, Furious 7, by Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar, Charlie Puth, and Cameron Thomaz
Yes, you’re probably a bit sick of listening to this tune after having had to listen to it nearly every time you turn on the radio, but “See You Again” is the perfect musical sendoff for Paul Walker’s last bow in Furious 7 and it deserves to be recognized as such.
There you have it, Screen Rant’s picks for which movies will win and which should win at the 73rd Annual Golden Globes Awards. Feel free to let us know what your picks are for the best in film, in the comment section below.
The 73rd Golden Globes Awards will air on NBC on January 10th, 2016, at 8pmET/5pmPT.