The big obvious winners Sunday evening were "Leviathan," "Grand Budapest Hotel," Michael Keaton, Richard Linklater and Eddie Redmayne. The reaction of the 1,200 people in the Golden Globes audience is a bigger Oscar clue than the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. results. The HFPA has 80-plus voters and none is a member of the Academy, so their choices don't necessarily reflect AMPAS. However, virtually everyone at the BevHilton Sunday was an industry member and their reactions showed widespread enthusiasm for those films and individuals.
The other big winners included "The Wedding Ringer," "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and "Tomorrowland." Because the Globes are telecast around the world, the ceremony is a great opportunity to plug current or upcoming films, via the nominations -- and presenters. There were nice mentions for those films via presenters Kevin Hart and Colin Firth and footage from "Tomorrowland" in the George Clooney montage.
Sunday winners shouldn't feel over-confident. Last year, Alex Ebert won for music score for "All is Lost," but wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award.
The actor, picture and director races are still up for grabs. Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch scored well, but nothing is certain. However, Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore and J.K. Simmons seem unstoppable. Their Globe wins follow multiple prizes from critics, and it's always good to have a reputation as a winner. As a bonus, all gave good acceptance speeches: humble, sincere, thoughtful. That's always reassuring.
"Birdman" is looking good. A lot of recent awards talk has centered on the stalwart "Boyhood," plus newer challengers like "Selma," "American Sniper" and even "Nightcrawler." But the screenplay win was a reminder that it's more than a model of technical artistry and great performances. And one of the film's themes is, "Even if you're out of work for a long time, you still have talent and value as a human." That concept hits home to everyone in the industry.
Despite all this handicapping, don't read too much Oscar-ness into Sunday's awards. The Globes have an erratic track record of predicting Academy results: Only four Globe best picture winners in the last 10 years also went on to Oscar wins. On the other hand, the vast majority of last year's GG winners also won an Oscar -- but even then, none was an off-the-wall or startling choice: Alfonso Cuaron, Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, "Frozen," et al. In an unpredictable year, like 2014, a lot of things can happen in the next six weeks. It's been said before, and will be said again: The Globes are fun. Twenty years ago, when they returned to network television, the Globes touted themselves as Oscar omens. But they've taken on their own identity and some people love to complain about the long day, but people actually have a good time. And there were surprises, like the win for "How to Train Your Dragon 2" that kept up suspense. Plus, the references to world events from HFPA prez Theo Kingma, Jared Leto and George Clooney were brief and appropriate.