Golden Globe Nominees: Trends in this Year’s Best Picture Films

Earlier this week the Golden Globe Nominations were announced, and there was much in common with this year’s nominees in the Best Picture, Drama category. Now, we at Pixel Productions typically work on smaller budget films (although motion picture blockbusters would be nice!) but it can’t hurt to explore what makes a Golden Globe Nominated film so special.

This year, “Lincoln” leads the pack with seven nominations (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). “Argo” and and “Django Unchained” have five nominations while “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Les Miserables” (nominated in the Best Picture Musical or Comedy category), earned four while “Life of Pi” has three.

The Best Picture, Drama nominees are “Argo,” “Django Unchained,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” If you’re unsure what each is about, here’s a brief recap (source: Wikipedia):

“Argo” – This film, directed by Ben Affleck, is based on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis in which a CIA operative led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran.

“Django Unchained” – Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this film is a western, which follows a freed slave who treks across America with a bounty hunter.

“Life of Pi” – This fantasy adventure is based on a novel by Yann Martel in which the protagonist, Piscine Molitor, must learn to survive after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger.

“Lincoln” – This American historical drama is directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, about the final four months of Lincoln’s life, focusing on Lincoln’s efforts to add the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Zero Dark Thirty” –  This film chronicles American efforts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.

Notice some trends?

  1. Political dramas — “Lincoln,” “Argo,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” are deeply rooted in historical and/or politically charged  events ranging from topics surrounding 1880’s era constitutional changes, to the 1970’s unrest in middle east, and finally, the most recent battles against terrorism.
  2. Recounting U.S. history — Every film, except “Life of Pi,” recounts the state of the United States in a particular moment in time. Watch any of this years’ nominees and be transported to a significant U.S. historical moment. Whether that’s the origin of the United States, the country’s expansion westward, or more recently to the conflicts in the middle east.

After noticing these trends this year, let’s see if they hold true for last year’s nominees:

  • “The Descendants” was based on the book, “Nat Faxon,” by Kaui Hart Hemmings but is not politically or historically based.
  • “The Help” is an historical account of the civil rights movement, and recounting U.S. history.
  • “Hugo” is based on Brian Selznick’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” but does not fit into the trends.
  • “The Ides of March” is not a political drama about a real-life event, it surely is political in that it describes the process of becoming elected as President of the United States.
  • “War Horse” recounts events during World War I, which definitely counts as historical.

If you take into account the last two years’ nominees, it appears movies with historical or political significance are dominating the category. However, the winners in previous years (“The Descendants ” “The Social Network,” “Avatar,” and others) are not historical or political at all.

This leaves one to believe that you may actually want to stay away from these trends if you want to win. But hey, isn’t it just as nice to be nominated?

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