Golden Globes Cement Best Actress Oscar Race as a Natalie Portman-Annette Bening Showdown
This year, however, both of the leading contenders for the Best Actress Academy Award -- Annette Bening and Natalie Portman -- took home Globes. In stark contrast to years past, a comedic performance is in very real contention for Academy's top acting prize, and since the Globes separate drama and comedy in the lead acting categories, all the Globes did was confirm something we already knew -- that this year's Best Actress race is pretty much a showdown between Bening (for 'The Kids Are All Right') and Portman (for 'Black Swan').
It's never a sure thing, of course, but the Globes do have a pretty good batting average when it comes to accurately predicting who will take home an Oscar. Only once in the last 10 years has the eventual Best Actress Oscar winner not also won a Globe. (The exception came in 2002, when Sissy Spacek took the drama prize for 'In the Bedroom' and Nicole Kidman won the musical/comedy award for 'Moulin Rouge,' while Halle Berry went on to win the Oscar for 'Monster's Ball.')
Most often, the Globes' Best Actress (Drama) winner is the one who takes home the big prize. Seven of the nine Globe winners who went on to win the Oscar won in the drama category, while the two musical/comedy winners -- Reese Witherspoon ('Walk the Line') and Marion Cotillard ('La Vie en Rose') -- won for dramatic performances in what the HFPA determined were musicals.
So while the Oscars do tend to favor drama, that Bening's performance is being treated as a comedic one certainly doesn't rule her out of the Oscar race. 'The Kids Are All Right' is probably better described as a dramedy than a full-on comedy, and her role as the lesbian mother of two children who seek out their sperm donor father is a heavy one.
There's also a sentiment in Hollywood that Bening is long overdue for an Oscar win and that her strong performance in 'Kids' is worthy-enough of recognition. The Academy has a long history of handing out what some call "career Oscars." Just last year, after four nominations and no wins, Jeff Bridges took home the Best Actor prize for 'Crazy Heart' despite being up against an arguably better performance by Colin Firth, who himself is the frontrunner for this year's win, in 'A Single Man.' There's no argument that Bridges gave a fantastic performance in 'Heart,' but was he really better than Firth, or was it just time for the acting legend to finally take home Hollywood's biggest prize?
Hollywood's inclination to award veteran performers who have racked up multiple nominations is well-known. In 2009, Kate Winslet, whose nomination for 'The Reader' was her sixth, took home the Best Actress trophy for a lukewarm-reviewed film while first-time nominee Anne Hathaway ('Rachel Getting Married'), who won raves as well as prizes from the National Board of Review, Broadcast Film Critics Association and multiple critics groups, looked on. In 1995, a famously competitive year, Susan Sarandon, who was 0-for-5 at the time, triumphed for her quiet turn in 'Dead Man Walking' over performances that have gone on to gain further esteem, most notably Sharon Stone's intense turn in Martin Scorsese's 'Casino.'
So while Portman's win in the drama category seems to better position her for a victory at the Oscars, the notion that it's Bening's turn to take the podium should not be discounted. The Oscars can be a notoriously political affair -- hence all the campaigning that goes on, when the award is meant to represent the best in film (not the most well-funded marketing machine). With both actresses enjoying Globe glory, Hollywood's second biggest honor has only further entrenched Portman and Bening in a celluloid war with the other -- for everyone else, well, it really is an honor just to be nominated.
Watch PopEater's own Denise Warner, John Mitchell and Jett Wells join Moviefone's Andy Scott to talk about Natalie Portman and Annette Bening's Oscar chances for Moviefone's Movie Club:
For more awards season buzz:
►Could 'No Strings Attached' Be Natalie Portman's 'Norbit'?
►Will Natalie Portman's Big News Equal Oscar Gold?
►Film Critic Insults Award-Winning Actors, Makes Annette Bening Cry
►Oscar Boycott Story 'Not True,' Says Tom Cruise's Spokesperson
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