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Golden Globes comedy/musical film races: Who's ahead?

December 27, 2007 | 11:59 pm

In the spirit of the holidays, I promise to give members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association a break and not snoop among them until after New Year's Day. Till then, though, let me offer some general prognostication about the comedy/musical film races like I recently did with the drama film slots.

"Across the Universe"
"Charlie Wilson's War"
"Sweeney Todd"

The foreign press really dig that unique Yankee movie experience, the musical. If a successful one is nominated here, even amongst blockbuster comedies, it usually wins ("Dreamgirls," "Moulin Rouge!" "Chicago," "Evita"). Much has been made this year about HFPA members' peculiar love of "Across the Universe," but let's recall that they also adored that low-energy, s-l-o-w-e-d-down screen adaptation of "Phantom of the Opera" a few years back, which flopped at the b.o. and lost at the Globes (to songless "Sideways," no less). So forget "Universe." This year they're also ga-ga over "Hairspray," which was hugely and surprisingly successful and could win, but it's old (came out last summer) and silly, not having "Sweeney's" gravitas and artistic cred. Besides, "Sweeney" is the only rival whose director is also nominated. That doesn't always equal victory. "Babe" won without helmer Chris Noonan being nommed, beating "The American President," whose Rob Reiner made the directors' list. But that overlap between categories usually fingers the winner ahead.

Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd"
Tom Hanks, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Ryan Gosling, "Lars and the Real Girl"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Savages"
John C. Reilly, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

When I attend the Golden Globes, I prefer to hang out back in the general press room where you can dish with winners and swap snarky comments with your journo pals. But I'm awfully glad I made an exception in 2004 (for the 2003 awards year) and agreed to sit out in the audience at a banquet table among the nominees. What a shock! Throughout the night I witnessed the sore losers — of which there are legions — get up and leave during the telecast's commercial breaks. That year I sat next to the "Six Feet Under" table. Soon after they lost best drama series to "24," all of the cast members save one scooted, leaving behind Frances Conroy, who had to wait around for the best-actress category. She won. Later that night I spied the poor dear sitting alone at the HBO party downstairs, her Golden Globe in her lap, a forlorn look on her face and not a fellow cast member nearby to help her to celebrate. Jerks!

But the biggest shockeroo of all occurred when the winner of best comedy/musical actor in a film was announced. "Pirates" nominee Johnny Depp didn't even bother to wait until a TV commercial break. After losing to Bill Murray ("Lost in Translation"), the big baby ran out so fast that I thought the Beverly Hilton was ablaze.

Well, I guess losing can get kind of rough on an ego-pampered star after a while. It was Johnny's fourth Globes defeat. He's lost three more since then ("Finding Neverland," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"). Last year he didn't throw another tantrum exit because he didn't attend.

This year I think it's obvious that he'll be heading in the other direction at last, up to the podium to accept his first Globe in eight nominations, then heading to the press room to join us. No other actor in this race has a prayer, so I was told by several HFPA members when I snooped before the holidays.


Amy Adams, "Enchanted"
Nikki Blonsky, "Hairspray"
Helena Bonham Carter, "Sweeney Todd"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

Wow, this race is a real head-scratcher. Any one of these gals can win, even Nikki, if Globers choose "Sweeney" over "Hairspray" in the best-pic race and want to give the latter a consolation prize here. (Voters love to spread the love around among movies.) Considering how much they swoon over musicals and their stars ("Evita's" Madonna and "Moulin Rouge's" Nicole Kidman in this category; "Dreamgirls'" Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson in other races just last year), that bodes well for Amy Adams (whose "Enchanted" got gypped out of a best-pic bid), Helena Bonham Carter (the "Sweeney Todd" has never won a Globe) and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"). When I chatted with foreign press members right after noms came out, they all said that they assume Frenchie Cotillard will win, but let's see what they say next week once "Sweeney" momentum plays out nationally.

The big spoiler here can be Ellen Page if votes split among all the musical contenders in this category. Remember, HFPA members are foreign journalists whose job it is to track Hollywood's hottest new stars for their newspapers back in Sweden and Brazil. Therefore, they spotlight hot new ingenues all the time, which is one of the reasons we kudos nuts love the Globes.