Golden Globes bring scant focus to wide-open Oscar race

CNN  — 

The Golden Globes brought clarity and passion to the campaign to change Hollywood’s culture regarding sexual harassment. The awards themselves did considerably less to outline the contours of a wide-open Oscar race, while exhibiting several familiar quirks associated with this particular event.

If there was one clear winner on Sunday, it was “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which nabbed Globes as best drama, for writer Martin McDonagh (who also directed the film), star Frances McDormand and co-star Sam Rockwell.

The movie, about a mother who campaigns to pressure local authorities to solve the rape and murder of her daughter, was already a likely Oscar nominee but presumably had its status bolstered, as academy voters fill out their ballots this week in advance of the Jan. 23 announcement.

“Lady Bird,” the coming-of-age saga chosen as best comedy or musical, also received a boost, though perhaps the bigger question is whether the film’s director, Greta Gerwig, can break through in that category. As presenter Natalie Portman noted from the stage, an all-male field – populated by old pros, like Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott – held sway at the Globes.

Otherwise, the Globes selections maintained the organizing Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s longstanding preference for international talent and big names, along with a penchant for the new on the TV side.

In addition to McDonagh, a British-Irish playwright whose movie credits include “In Bruges,” the HFPA (which consists of just 90 members) honored Ireland-raised “Lady Bird” star Saoirse Ronan; Gary Oldman for playing Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour;” and “Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro, who hails from Mexico, as well as the movie’s French composer Alexandre Desplat.

On the TV side, international players included Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard for “Big Little Lies” and Ewan McGregor for his dual role in the latest addition of “Fargo.”

As some have already noted, the Globes have become a less-reliable bellwether for the Oscars in recent years, and that could be especially true in what’s perceived as a best-picture race lacking an obvious frontrunner. Award watchers and prognosticators will be looking to the major guild balloting – including the directors, producers and writers – to provide more focus on which films the movie academy might favor.

In TV, meanwhile, the Globes notably handed out best drama and comedy series to two streaming services that aren’t Netflix – Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” (Netflix garnered just one award for Aziz Ansari in “Master of None.”)

The quartet of wins for HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” double trophies for “Handmaid’s Tale” (the other being for star Elisabeth Moss) and Sterling K. Brown of NBC’s “This is Us” largely echoed results from the Emmys, presented in September. “Mrs. Maisel,” by contrast, premiered in November, well after this year’s deadline.