For the top tier honor of a major awards organization, the Golden Globes’ Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Award doesn’t quite get the respect it deserves. That’s because everyone knows the Drama realm holds claim to all the real Oscar hopefuls — 31 Golden Globe winners in the Best Motion Picture – Drama have gone on to take Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
What’s more, those most successful pictures on the other side of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s binary tend to be not of the Comedy variety in earnest, but Musicals: Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, and Chicago are among the rare Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy victors to take the top Oscar as well.
But resigning to this calculation would be denying the merits of some of the Globes’ finest exploits in cinematic laughter. Throughout the years, the HFPA has awarded its Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Award to some magnificently smart, charming, and hilarious films, many of which never got their due come Oscar time. In honor of the organization’s latest terrific choice of The Grand Budapest Hotel , here’s a look back at some of the forgotten wonders of Golden Globes-awarded comedy.
Some Like It Hot
It’s amazing that such a classic piece of film history was overlooked in the Oscars’ Best Picture category, and snubbed come awards night in just about every other category in which it actually was nominated (winning only for Costume Design… which is at least an element especially important to the movie’s spirit). But at least the Globes gave this comic classic its fair shake. We can’t be too mad at the Oscars, though. Nobody’s perfect.
The recently deceased Mike Nichols’ most famous piece did earn a Best Picture nomination, but lost out to the ferocious drama In the Heat of the Night. But the ingeniously dry The Graduate stands as the perfect illustration of the generation that pioneered existential crises.
Another Best Picture nominee, Robert Altman’s MASH might today be overshadowed by its small screen successor, but is in fact a work of magic in the realms of satire and black comedy. The world awaits another Sutherland-Gould union.
Fiddler on the Roof
Sure, this one is a musical, but it’s a riot just the same. Norman Jewison conducted a quirky little cartoon, backlit by the horrors of an impending Holocaust, in such an affective chemistry that wouldn’t be much until this past year’s similarly concocted Grand Budapest Hotel.
If you ask me, this trumps American Graffiti (another Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical winner), Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and even Dazed and Confused as the definitive teen hangout comedy. The listless foursome at the center of this story are as funny as they are sad, entertaining as they are human.
It might not be a great work of cinematic art, but Arthur, with its cackling one-liners and anarchic sensibilities, is a pretty damn good rom-com.
A nearly perfect medley of silly, sweet, and socially conscious, Dustin Hoffman’s step into the comedy circuit is right up there in quality with some of his most powerful dramas, like Best Picture winners Midnight Cowboy, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Rain Man.
Hannah and Her Sisters
One of Woody Allen’s very best films — perhaps second only to Annie Hall, which did indeed win Best Picture, but not Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, in 1977 (it lost the latter to The Goodbye Girl). Hannah and Her Sisters showed a new calm sophistication for an aging Allen, but not without that patented zaniness we’d always loved in his pictures.
Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, and Mrs. Doubtfire all won the Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Award? Man, the Golden Globes really like “man dresses up as woman as a means of deceit” comedies.
I’m not sure if I can really sign off on the idea of Cameron Crowe’s love letter to rock music and “the uncool” beating O Brother, Where Art Thou and Best in Show in the race for the year 2000’s Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Golden Globe Award, but I’m pleased that this important piece of subculture iconography got its place in the sun.
Lost in Translation
The world will always go back to this film as surefire proof that we had artistic dynamos in both Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray…somehow, Scarlett Johansson is always left out of the conversation, but not through lack of acumen on her end (I think we were all just wowed by surprise re: the other two). This marvelous picture lost Best Picture to the admittedly marvelous Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, but the Golden Globes solidified it as the best comedy (even if it is a sad one) of the year.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
And here we are — the latest addition to the lot, and quite possibly the very best movie to hit theaters in 2014. Will it make the cut come Oscar nomination time? Could it possibly go all the way? The odds are drastically slim on that latter point, but if not, at least it’s in some fine company.
Images: Sony Pictures Classics (2); United Artists (2); Embassy Pictures; 20th Century Fox (3); Warner Bros.; Columbia Pictures; Orion Pictures Corporation; DreamWorks; Focus Features