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‘American Hustle’ wins big at the Globes and helps its Oscar chances

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence at the Golden Globes
Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence at the Golden Globes
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The 71st Golden Globes may have helped push “American Hustle” into Oscar frontrunner status when it awarded the caper comedy three very big trophies Sunday night, January 12. The film won Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Amy Adams), and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence). Such big-ticket wins will give it a lot of momentum as it hustles towards the 86th Academy Awards on March 2.

What is it about the Globes that heed such influence? In a word, television. It’s one of the few big awards shows broadcast in primetime on a major network (NBC). And it’s not just a film awards show, it also hands out statues for TV, so the list of Hollywood A-listers attending is one that’s seen nowhere else. It’s an event, and it garners terrific ratings year in and year out, attracting almost 20 million viewers last year (http://bit.ly/1dgwJIK).

The Hollywood Foreign Press, a worldwide group of less than 100 journalists, votes the Globes on and their show’s high visibility often puts them in the role of defining frontrunners (http://bit.ly/1gs8UAj). The movie “LA Confidential” swept all four major critics’ group awards in 1997, but when the Globes passed it over for “Titanic”, it stalled its Oscar momentum. And while current frontrunner “12 Years A Slave” won the Best Drama award, it was its only trophy. Comparitively, the three for "American Hustle" may give it the edge now.

Such a ‘Midas touch’ may be a boon to other movie winners tonight as well. Alex Ebert won Best Original Score for his deft work on “All is Lost”. U2 won Best Original Song from the movie “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”. Spike Jonze won for his touching and clever screenplay of the singular “Her.” And heavy favorite Jared Leto of “Dallas Buyers Club” continued his march to the Best Supporting Actor Oscar by taking the same award at the Globes.

Other film winners included Leonardo DiCaprio taking Best Actor in a Film (Musical or Comedy) for “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Best Foreign Film went to “The Great Beauty” from Italy. Disney’s “Frozen” won Best Animated Feature. And Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for his visionary “Gravity”, my pick for the year’s best film (http://exm.nr/1d5HbyS).

On the drama side, Matthew McConnaghey took Best Actor for his fantastic work in "Dallas Buyers Club". Many thought Robert Redford would be called for "All is Lost" as it was such a big film return for him, but he was passed over. On the dramatic actress side, Cate Blanchett won for her lead in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine".

And speaking of Allen, he was the recipient of this year's Cecil B. DeMille Award for his achievement as a filmmaker for over 40 years (http://bit.ly/1kX5rKA). He is notorious for not bothering to show up for such events and didn’t show up for this one either. So Diane Keaton accepted on his behalf. She was charming, but it was anticlimatic for Allen not to be there for his special award.

In the TV world, “Breaking Bad” finally got some Globes respect, winning for Best Drama Series and Best Lead Actor Bryan Cranston. Robin Wright won Best Lead Actress for “House of Cards”. Amy Poehler finally won a Globe for her comedic work on “Parks and Recreation”. Andy Samberg of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” won Best Actor for a Comedy Series.

TV’s supporting awards went to Jon Voight for “Ray Donovan” and Jacqueline Bisset for the TV miniseries “Dancing on the Edge”. Elisabeth Moss won Best Actress for a TV movie or mini-series for “Top of the Lake”. And to no one’s surprise, Michael Douglas continued to collect awards for his portrayal of Liberace in “Behind the Candelabra” (Best Actor in a TV movie or miniseries).

And, as always, the show's entertainment value ran from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tina Fey and Poehler aced their second time hosting the show. Robert Downey, Jr. was a cheeky presenter per usual. But the Globes producers still haven't figured out how to get winners up to the stage in a timely fashion. And they continue to make silly mistakes with things like teleprompter malfunctions. Some speeches were charming (Jonze, Ebert) while others wasted time and were embarrassingly self-absorbed. Yes, I'm talking to you, Ms. Bisset.

But the best thing about the Globes is two-fold. One, they have a knack for recognizing TV shows of the moment like nominee “Orange is the New Black” or Best TV Comedy winner “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” long before the Emmys get around to noticing them. And most importantly, the Globes tee up certain films for the next big prize – the Oscar. And this year, it seems that the blackly comic movie about Abscam in the 1970’s might now have a bit of an edge. We shall see.