Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans, musical biopic Elvis, and the long-awaited sequels to Top Gun and Avatar will do battle Wednesday, Jan. 11 (Philippine time) at the Golden Globes, as the Hollywood awards show seeks to rebuild its reputation after being tarnished by recent scandals.
The Globes gala, traditionally a raucous celebrity-packed event that kicks off the annual movie awards season, has not had its usual glitz for two years, due to the pandemic and revelations about their organizers' lack of diversity and alleged ethical lapses.
NBC, which scrapped its broadcast of the show last year after it emerged the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had no Black members, has brought back the 80th Golden Globe Awards on a one-off basis after the organization scrambled to reform.
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Spielberg, whose semi-autobiographical film is a favorite to win best drama, is among the A-listers expected to attend, while Eddie Murphy will receive a career achievement award and comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosts the proceedings.
A preview tweet from the HFPA indicated that nominees Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Rihanna would also be in the Beverly Hilton ballroom for the festivities.
Pundits still predict a quieter-than-usual showing on the Globes' red carpet, and most of the usual swanky after-parties—where winners parade their trophies, and losers drown their sorrows with free champagne—are not taking place this year.
Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond said the event is likely to be more "muted" overall, with major Hollywood studios "not spending big bucks" to fete their nominees as they have in previous years.
Those who walk the red carpet face the prospect of fielding questions from journalists about the Globes themselves, rather than the usual "What are you wearing?" conversations, he added.
Spielberg, Cruise, Cameron
Unlike the Oscars, the pinnacle of awards season on March 12, the Globes movie prizes are split between two categories: "drama" and "comedy or musical."
On the drama side, The Fabelmans is up for best film against last year's two biggest box office hits—the blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise, and James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water.
Tar, set in the cut-throat world of classical music, and rock-and-roll biopic Elvis could also spring some surprises.
Their respective stars—Cate Blanchett, who plays a ruthless conductor, and Austin Butler, stepping into Presley's blue suede shoes—are frontrunners for drama acting prizes.
Brendan Fraser, a nominee for his starring role in The Whale, has ruled out attending Tuesday's gala. He has previously alleged he was once sexually assaulted by a former HFPA president.
Cruise, a producer on Top Gun: Maverick, is also unlikely to attend, after he returned his three Globes to the HFPA in 2021 in protest.
"The Banshees of Inisherin" holds the most overall nominations at this year's Globes with eight, and is a favorite to win best comedy, with co-star Colin Farrell a frontrunner for best comedy actor.
The movie about a shattered friendship on a remote Irish island will contend with surreal, multiverse-hopping sci-fi film Everything Everywhere All At Once—its stars Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Ke Huy Quan are all up for acting awards.
In years past, success at the Globes was a potential bellwether for films hoping to win Oscars and served as a valuable marketing tool.
Indeed, Academy voters will begin casting ballots for Oscar nominations on Thursday, just days after the Globes gala.
But recent controversies have muddied the waters.
The addition of more than 100 new, more racially diverse Globes voters, who are not full HFPA members, has made it even harder to predict who the group of foreign journalists will reward.
While movie billboards and commercials boasting of Globes nominations have returned after last year's notable absence, few nominees have publicly thanked the HFPA.
According to Hammond, some in the industry privately yearn for the old Globes to return because they think the show is an important "cog in the wheel of awards season."
"You can't buy tradition," he said.
But rows over diversity, alleged corruption, and lack of professionalism have "lessened" the Globes' sheen when it comes to influencing the Oscars, Hammond said.
"When every (Globes) story talks about the scandal... it doesn't make it as credible, I think, to the Oscar voters," he said. (AFP)