When the 69th annual Golden Globes nominations were announced last Thursday, it was delightful and surprising to see The Artist (above), a silent black-and-white film, coming out victorious with six nominations. It’s a film I’ve been very excited to see again since I saw it in Toronto in September. The Artist opens this Friday at the Edina Cinema, and I’m presuming it will be shown on two screens due to the high demand and interest in the story of a popular silent lead actor George Valentin (played impeccably by French star Jean Dujardin) who watches his career crash and burn before his eyes as the age of sound in films starts to take off. The Artist has been steadily gaining buzz since it last premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Weinstein Company quickly snatched up the film to distribute in the U.S.
The Golden Globes will be presented on Sunday, January 15, and now that the nominations are out, this gives audiences their first chance to see what films will be lining up for Oscar gold. There are plenty of great films that were honored last week, but there is really something special about The Artist. If the film keeps its momentum going through the end of 2011 and into the new year and captures some Golden Globe awards, it may very will be in line for a number of Academy Award nominations when they are announced the following week on January 24 and could be the first silent film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards since the 1927 World War I film Wings, starring Gary Cooper.
While The Artist is a great story for the Golden Globes and in film in 2011, there was also much love for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, starring a wily George Clooney; and Tate Taylor’s juggernaut film The Help, based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett, both films receiving five nominations. Rounding out the pack with four nominations each, were George Clooney’s political thriller The Ides of March; Woody Allen’s 43rd film as a director, Midnight in Paris; and Bennett Miller’s baseball drama Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.
There were a few surprises in the film nominations including no nominations for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (some Academy pundits think it will be nominated for Best Picture), The Muppets (not even in the Best Original Song category), Take Shelter (I thought Michael Shannon would be a lock), and Martha Marcy May Marlene (again, I thought Elizabeth Olsen would be a sure-fire nominee, and even thought John Hawkes might get a nod in the supporting category.)
The Golden Globes show is usually more entertaining than the dry Academy Awards show, and one reason is its unpredictable host Ricky Gervais, who’ll be leading the charge again with his direct and sharp commentary/jokes at the show. The other reason I look forward to the show they also give out awards to the best in television.
Upon reviewing the nominees in the television categories, I was shocked, more so than with any of the film nominations, that AMC’s Breaking Bad wasn’t included in the Best Drama category. The five shows nominated were co-creator Ryan Murphy’s FX horror-drama American Horror Story; Kelsey Grammer’s political drama Boss; two HBO shows, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones; and Showtime’s terrorist drama Homeland. Four of the five shows are in or have just finished their first seasons—Boardwalk Empire just wrapped its second season last Sunday with a huge twist that may flounder or propel the show in its next season—but Breaking Bad might have been the best entertainment I saw in either film or TV this year. In the series’s fourth season, Walter White (played with furious anger and conviction by nominee Bryan Cranston) saw his life in danger in nearly every episode as he dealt with his family crumbling and distancing themselves from his side business while he tried to avoid his boss Gus while trying to reconnect with his “frenemy” slacker partner Jesse as they look for a way to get out of the meth business. Got that? It was hilarious, frightening, shocking, and perhaps the most complete season the show has delivered yet.
While I’ve seen four of the five nominated series in the Best Drama category (I haven’t seen Homeland, but have heard nothing but outstanding remarks about the show), none of the other four nominated dramas even came close to the sheer tenacity of what Breaking Bad brought to cable television. It brings to mind challenging and provocative shows like HBO”s The Wire and Deadwood, and to even go further back, Fox’s short-lived and stunning Profit, starring Adrian Pasdar, from the late 1990s. Breaking Bad has one season left to go down in cable television history as one of the best produced, acted, and written shows to ever be shown on American television, so where is the love for it?