It's safe to say that awards season is officially underway. But, with so many different voting bodies voting for so many different films, it's sometimes hard to keep track of everything. So, before the Golden Globe nominees are announced next Thursday morning, you might want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the more bizarre ins and outs of this year's ceremony... like the fact that The Martian is competing as a Comedy. Yes, you read that right. Ridley Scott's epic, thrilling outer space adventure will be considered by the HFPA in the same category as Amy Schumer's riotous Trainwreck. But that's not the only strange thing about the Golden Globes this year — which is really just par for the course when it comes to the HFPA, a notoriously eclectic group of voters.
This is the same group that allowed Kate Winslet to submit her starring role in 2008's The Reader in the Supporting category so she wouldn't have to compete against her own Lead performance in Revolutionary Road; a gambit which paid off, since she took home trophies for both films that night. This is also the same group that nominated 2010's The Tourist as Best Picture — Musical or Comedy, despite the fact that it was both an action thriller and terrible.
Confused? You're not alone. Here are five of the most bizarre things you need to know about this year's Golden Globes:
The Martian Is A Comedy
While the Drama category is always a stacked deck of powerhouse Oscar hopefuls, the other is often a mixed bag of films stretching the definition of the word "funny" (Birdman) and popular films the Academy would never deign to nominate (Bridesmaids). This year is no different, with heavyweights like Spotlight, Carol, and The Revenant jockeying for Drama nominations, and movies like Trainwreck and Spy in serious contention for a Comedy nod. So 20th Century Fox's decision to submit The Martian in the latter field makes sense... but that doesn't mean the HFPA had to accept that decision. The group has the power to overturn any category submission — and the fact that they didn't shows that they're eager to give some gold to the beloved Matt Damon vehicle.
So Is Joy
Yet another contentious "Comedy" this year is David O. Russell's latest collaboration with Jennifer Lawrence, the sprawling biopic Joy. This one feels a tiny less egregious, if only because both of the director's previous films, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, also competed in this category — with the latter winning the trophy two years ago over the likes of other dubious "comedies" like Nebraska and The Wolf Of Wall Street. But the HFPA was so torn over Joy's genre that they didn't even officially announce a decision until three days ago, only one week before nomination ballots are due. The film's star is likely breathing a sigh of relief; she's now a virtual lock for another win, since she won't be competing against the likes of Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, and Saoirse Ronan on the Drama side.
But Straight Outta Compton Is A Drama
Usually, the convenient part about the "Musical or Comedy" category is that any drama that contains some music in it can submit itself in that field. For example, Harvey Weinstein famously ensured that a few musical numbers were inserted into the dramatic 2011 biopic My Week With Marilyn to ensure that it would compete in the less crowded category. Why, then, is acclaimed N.W.A. film Straight Outta Compton considered a Drama rather than a Musical, despite the fact that it's literally about a group of musicians? Because the HFPA says so, that's why. The group is notoriously unpredictable in this categorization; while straight-up musicals like Into The Woods have no problem being classified as such, dramas that contain music have an iffy track record, with films like Ray and Walk The Line earning the classification but others like Get On Up and Hustle & Flow being forced into the Drama category.
Rooney Mara & Alicia Vikander Are Leads
While it seems like the HFPA is going a little crazy with their genre classifications this year, there's one area where they do seem to be cracking down on category fraud: the acting fields. This year has been so rife with compelling performances by talented women that a couple of actresses — Rooney Mara in Carol and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl — have decided to submit their starring performances as Supporting in order to avoid the heated competition... despite the fact that they share equal screentime (at least) with their co-stars, Cate Blanchett and Eddie Redmayne.
This decision is grating in Mara's case, considering she won the Best Actress prize over Blanchett at Cannes this spring, and the entire movie is told from her character's perspective. But at least it makes strategic sense: the studio clearly wants to avoid a split vote by placing its two stars in different categories. However, Vikander and Redmayne will never be competing against each other, so there's absolutely no excuse for submitting her as Supporting.
Thankfully, the HFPA has called shenanigans in both cases, vetoing Mara's and Vikander's submissions and forcing them to compete as Lead instead. While this will make for a very crowded field, it's undoubtedly the right call. Will Mara and Vikander both manage to squeeze into the overcrowded Lead Actress race? Does Straight Outta Compton have a prayer of getting recognized as a Drama? Will The Martian or Joy win Best Comedy over a truly funny film like Trainwreck? We'll find out when the Golden Globe nominations are announced next Thursday morning — and when the ceremony airs on Jan. 10, 2016, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, hosted by Ricky Gervais.
Images: 20th Century Fox (3); Universal Pictures; The Weinstein Company; Focus Features