The deadline for Golden Globe submissions was Friday and so studios had to declare whether their contenders would be aiming for comedy or drama consideration. Of course, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) can overturn these categorizations, as they have in the past with films like “True Grit.” Between now and the time ballots go out to members of the organization on Nov. 27, the group may do that with one or more of the films that straddle the line between comedy and drama, but it’s a rare occurrence.
This year’s heavy-hitting comedy/musical crop includes “August: Osage County,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Nebraska” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Maybe films like “Enough Said,” “Her” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” can drum up some love, too. Meanwhile, “American Hustle” will go drama, despite having comedic elements, as will “Saving Mr. Banks” and, somehow, Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
But even with those two films out of the mix, the comedy field is packed with top-tier players. There are, therefore, underdogs aplenty, great films that could use the exposure of a Best Picture race that recognizes comedies. Here is my list of a few that deserve consideration. Feel free to offer up your own in the comments section.
Yes, this is being judged a comedy. And as mentioned, Sony Classics is pitting Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” as a drama. One imagines that is to keep Cate Blanchett away from Meryl Streep in the Best Actress race, but I digress. If we’re going to call “Before Midnight” a comedy full stop, then it needs to be way high on the list of considerations. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater have given us a true gift with this film and it’s upsetting to think that it might not catch on in the awards race. It’s a bolt of sincerity and reality and the mundane majesty that lingers between the lines of life. Delpy delivers another amazing performance of a character we’ve seen her grow with for two decades.
First revealed way back at the 2012 Telluride Film Festival, “Frances Ha” is still filmmaking of the highest order this year and it’s not even being given a fair shake in the indie awards circuit (witnessed by an outright snub in the Gotham Awards nominations). I’m not always on Noah Baumbach’s team, but when I am, I really am. This is a dissection of life in a holding pattern that really gets it when it could have been too thin or precious or solipsistic, even. And it’s brought to life by great work across the board, from Greta Gerwig’s magnetic performance to rich black and white photography to just the grace of Baumbach’s hand behind the camera.
“In a World”
Lake Bell’s directorial debut totally worked on me. It’s a difficult thing to qualify; it just found its way into my heart and on top of it all has such a vibrant, fresh sense of humor. I’ve laughed out loud at few movies this year the way I did here, and it’s a real pity that the HFPA isn’t likely to bother even giving it the time of day. We’d be so lucky to have more films like this, that find the truthful rhythms without sacrificing entertainment, that know exactly what they are and how to convey what it is they want to say with such confidence. Bell is a huge talent.
Chances are A24 didn’t even bother submitting Harmony Korine’s hypnotic bender for HFPA consideration, in which case it’s pointless to even put it on the list, but I will anyway. And it’s probably a stretch as a comedy but that’s where it likely would have gone. I’ve already talked about how I think there’s more going on with James Franco’s outrageous performance than mere stunt. But the film itself is “a rather potent study of ‘spring break’ as a state of mind,” I wrote at back in March, “the desperate race for greener pastures that grows like a fungus in small town America.” I’d wager it has more on its mind than a great many films in the comedy race this year.
“This is the End”
Still one of the year’s best films, even as we find ourselves deep into the prestige/awards season of the fall, “This is the End” is a movie that really deserves the boost of Globes recognition. Particularly if efforts like “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Hangover” and, good lord, “The Tourist” have managed it in the past. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg found alchemy with this summer comedy, managing to say something vital about friendship and hypocrisy and this wacky industry while entertaining at every step.