Critic offers up picks for Golden Globes

By Gary Wolcott, Special to the HeraldJanuary 10, 2013 

It's that time of year. Awards. Award ceremonies. They're all over the place. Other than the Oscars, and maybe the Screen Actors Guild, the Hollywood Foreign Press Golden Globes get the most notice.

Up first is the Golden Globes. All of the films, performances and other nominations are deserved. This is a cream of the crop list. Unfortunately, it's also a popularity contest. Just a few of the best in any category will actually end up with the Golden Globe when they are announced Jan. 13.

Best Picture Drama

All five are great movies. Two films have a shot, one is a long shot and two don't have a chance. Three of the five are biopics. The odds-on favorite is Lincoln, the worst movie of the bunch. My pick is Zero Dark Thirty with Argo running a close second.

Lincoln: This Steven Spielberg biopic is a very good movie, but parts are bloated, the plot often goes places it doesn't need to go and it should have ended before Lincoln's assassination. However, Spielberg's film is most likely to take home the Golden Globe.

Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars. Great performances dot this edge-of-your-seat, hold your breath, nail-biting thriller that's very loosely based on the 1977 Iran hostage crisis. It's the only movie with a chance of beating Lincoln.

Zero Dark Thirty: Just now getting to many markets, this biopic that follows the long and frustrating but ultimately fruitful hunt for Osama bin Laden has a slim chance of upsetting the two front-runners.

Django Unchained is long, bloody, intense and sometimes funny and features the best acting of the five. The Life of Pi is the most beautifully filmed movie of the year.

Best Picture Comedy or Musical

Like the best drama category, the worst movie of the group, Les Misérables is the most likely to take home the Golden Globe. My pick is Silver Linings Playbook.

Les Misérables: Popular musicals don't make good movies. This one is tuneless. Some of the actors can sing. Others can't. On and on it drags, and it's also likely to drag home the Golden Globe.

Silver Linings Playbook: This is last year's best movie in either category. Great acting, brilliant writing and excellent storytelling give this one a slim shot at upstaging the musical.

The others -- while great movies -- aren't going to come close. Some of the best acting of the year came to us from a group of old British pros who tore it up in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Moonrise Kingdom was Wes Anderson being Wes Anderson, and not enough people saw the excellent Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Best Actor Drama

All of these performances are exceptional. Daniel Day-Lewis is most likely to get the award for a stunning bit of work as a distracted, often disconnected, parable-telling president battling to pass the 14th Amendment.

His only and limited competition comes from Denzel Washington whose work in Flight ranks among the best of his career. Also of note, but with no chance, is Joaquin Phoenix's comeback role in The Master.

Best Actor Comedy or Musical

The two best actors don't have a chance. Jack Black is so not Jack Black in the wonderfully fun murder movie Bernie, and the always excellent Bradley Cooper took a step toward superstardom with a brilliant bit of acting in Silver Linings Playbook. Look for Hugh Jackman to lug the Golden Globe home for Les Misérables.

The other two nominees are Bill Murray, who did a nice turn as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson, and Ewan McGregor, who gave a terrific comic performance in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Best Actress Drama

Jessica Chastain should walk away with the Golden Globe for excellent and intense work in Zero Dark Thirty. No one else stands much of a chance. My favorite was Helen Mirren, who played Alfred Hitchcock's wife in the little-seen Hitchcock. Others with no chance are Marion Cotillard, who shined as an amputee in Rust and Bone, and Naomi Watts, who suffers mightily in The Impossible. I didn't see The Deep Blue Sea with Rachel Weisz.

Best Actress Comedy or Musical

Hand the Golden Globe to Jennifer Lawrence. Her work in Silver Linings Playbook is the year's best. It's also hard not to rave about the great work done by Emily Blunt in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Judi Dench, who lights it up in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I didn't see Maggie Smith and Quartet, and Meryl Streep has no hope for Hope Springs.

Best Director

Only the five best picture drama directors ended up in this category. Quentin Tarantino does an excellent job with Django Unchained, and Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow are exceptional in their biopics Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. The best of the group is Ang Li, whose The Life of Pi is the most beautiful and technically challenging film of 2012.

However, hand the Golden Globe to Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.

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