Golden Globes Film: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

7:00 AM 1/2/2020

by Todd McCarthy and Scott Feinberg

The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic Todd McCarthy makes his case while awards analyst Scott Feinberg shares his predictions, with films like 'The Irishman' and 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' showing up on both of their lists.

Click here to see Feinberg and chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg's picks for who will and should win in the television categories.

  • Best Picture, Drama

    'The Irishman'
    'The Irishman'
    Courtesy Netflix

    SHOULD WIN: The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese is one of two or three preeminent American directors of the past half-century. And The Irishman is one of his top five films in the gangster genre, an unquestioned career capper.

    WILL WIN: The Irishman

    Forget Joker. It will be WWI epic 1917 or one of three Netflix titles: The Two Popes; Marriage Story, which leads all films with six noms; or The Irishman, the category's only nominee with director and screenplay nods.

  • Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

    'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
    'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
    Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures

    SHOULD WIN: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the best American film of the year, unlike any other and one so rich with inventiveness that it measurably improves after repeated viewings.

    WILL WIN:  Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

    No other musical or comedy matched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's five noms or nabbed both director and screenplay noms. Dolemite Is My Name, Knives Out, Rocketman and Jojo Rabbit have to hope for acting awards.

  • Best Director

    Bong Joon-Ho
    Bong Joon-Ho
    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    SHOULD WIN: Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

    All the nominees are protean works by experienced directors working at somewhere near the peak of their powers, but if the logic follows that the best film is the one that has been best directed, I cast my lot with Tarantino.

    WILL WIN: Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

    The nom count suggests this is between The Irishman's Martin Scorsese and Once Upon a Time's Quentin Tarantino — but I would watch out for Parasite's Bong Joon-ho, whose film, which was ineligible for best pic, is very popular with the HPFA.

  • Best Actor, Drama

    Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker'
    Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker'
    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

    SHOULD WIN: Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)

    Few actor-director collaborations are as vital as that between Antonio Banderas and Pedro Almodóvar. Their seventh collaboration, Pain and Glory, is unquestionably the profound payoff.

    WILL WIN: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

    Joker's Joaquin Phoenix and Marriage Story's Adam Driver are out front, but don't rule out a foreigner with the HFPA: Pain and Glory's Antonio Banderas, a Spaniard, or The Two Popes' Jonathan Pryce, both great in popular pics.

  • Best Actress, Drama

    Charlize Theron (left) in 'Bombshell'
    Charlize Theron (left) in 'Bombshell'
    Hilary Bronwyn Gayle SMPSP

    SHOULD WIN: Charlize Theron (Bombshell)

    There is something positively uncanny about the way Charlize Theron not just inhabits, but seems to become Megyn Kelly in Bombshell that eliminates the line between performance and immersion.

    WILL WIN: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

    The HFPA loves stars, and Bombshell's Charlize Theron and Marriage Story's Scarlett Johansson are the category's biggest. But it also loves music-centric performances and comeback stories, and in terms of those, nobody tops Judy's Renée Zellweger.

  • Best Actor, Musical or Comedy

    Eddie Murphy in 'Dolemite Is My Name'
    Eddie Murphy in 'Dolemite Is My Name'
    Courtesy of Netflix

    SHOULD WIN: Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

    As a blaxploitation director so bad in Dolemite Is My Name, Eddie Murphy stages a very welcome return that displays his outrageousness, timing and comic smarts at their best.

    WILL WIN: Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

    Contenders are Once Upon a Time A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio; Rocketman breakout Taron Egerton; or Dolemite vet Eddie Murphy. Egerton and Murphy have campaigned hard, the former for a true musical and the latter for a true comedy.

  • Best Actress, Musical or Comedy

    Awkwafina (center) in 'The Farewell'
    Awkwafina (center) in 'The Farewell'
    Courtesy of A24

    SHOULD WIN: Emma Thompson (Late Night)

    Sweeping, snapping and swanning above the film's script problems, Emma Thompson delivers comic energy and attitude galore as a veteran TV talk show host in Late Night.

    WILL WIN: Awkwafina (The Farewell)

    It's hard to imagine Booksmart's Beanie Feldstein winning when her film's other half, Kaitlyn Dever, wasn't nominated. So it's either Knives Out scene-stealer Ana de Armas or first-time dramatist Awkwafina, who carries The Farewell.

  • Best Supporting Actor

    Brad Pitt in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
    Brad Pitt in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
    SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

    SHOULD WIN: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

    Each actor in this category was at the top of his game and created an indelible character, and most of them were borderline co-leads. However, for the pure bliss emanating from the frame every moment he was onscreen, Brad Pitt hijacks it.

    WILL WIN: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood's Tom Hanks and The Irishman's Al Pacino each have four Globes, whereas Once Upon a Time's Brad Pitt has just one — but unlike Hanks, Pitt is in a pic they love, and unlike Pacino, he is not up against a co-star.

  • Best Supporting Actress

    Jennifer Lopez in 'Hustlers'
    Jennifer Lopez in 'Hustlers'
    STX Films

    SHOULD WIN: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

    The characters created by these exceptional actresses could scarcely be more different. All the same, Laura Dern in Marriage Story had the benefit of a dynamite monologue in defense of the wife in a divorce case that puts her performance over the top.

    WILL WIN: Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)

    The HFPA loves Laura Dern (a Miss Golden Globe who has won four prizes) and Marriage Story — but I suspect it would love even more to be the first to crown A-lister Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers. It's hard to imagine anyone else winning.

  • Best Screenplay

    'Marriage Story'
    'Marriage Story'
    Courtesy of Netflix

    SHOULD WIN: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    This feels like the most tightly contested category of all, with a legitimate case to be made for each nominee. The Two Popes boasts the best dialogue, but I give the edge to Tarantino for sheer originality and the vibrance of his spoken words.

    WILL WIN: Marriage Story

    Any of the nominees — but especially Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Parasite — seems a plausible winner. But because Marriage Story's Noah Baumbach can't be honored for directing, I suspect voters will honor him here.

  • Best Animated Film

    'Toy Story 4'
    'Toy Story 4'
    Disney/Pixar

    SHOULD WIN: Toy Story 4

    This is the biggest no-brainer of all the categories, as all the nominees carry serious liabilities other than for Toy Story 4. Disney/Pixar's miraculous franchise has done the seemingly impossible in this day and age by not forcing a new entry in this series before its time. Only when all the creative parts were up to snuff did it move ahead, and very satisfyingly so.

    WILL WIN: Toy Story 4

    This award was created in 2006, after the first two Toy Story pics had been released. Toy Story 3 won nine years ago, and Toy Story 4 seems poised to do the same, although The Lion King — not entered for the corresponding Oscar — is a wild card.

  • Best Foreign-Language Film

    'Les Misérables'
    'Les Misérables'
    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    SHOULD WIN: Les Misérables 

    Aside from The Farewell, which displays none of the filmmaking skill so highly abundant in the other nominees, a case could be made for them all. But while Parasite will most assuredly win, Les Misérables is the nominee that has most firmly stuck in my mind by taking me someplace real where I'd never been before.

    WILL WIN: Parasite

    The Farewell and Pain and Glory each have an acting nom, which Parasite does not, but the South Korean phenomenon has directing and writing noms, which neither of other two do, and few non-English-language Globe nominees ever have had.

  • Best Original Score

    '1917'
    '1917'
    François Duhamel/Universal Pictures

    SHOULD WIN: 1917

    As fine and fleet as Alexandre Desplat’s score for Little Women may be, Thomas Newman carried a heavier load in helping sustain the dramatic intensity and breathtaking sweep of 1917. He indisputably rose to the challenging occasion with one of the most memorable scores this prolific veteran has created.

    WILL WIN: Marriage Story

    Little Women's Alexandre Desplat has been nominated for 11 Globes, winning two, but it's probably between the Newman cousins, both of whom are seeking their first wins: Marriage Story's Randy (for nom No. 7) and 1917's Thomas (for nom No. 4).

  • Best Original Song

    'The Lion King'
    'The Lion King'
    Courtesy of Disney

    SHOULD WIN: "Spirit" (The Lion King)

    There can be little doubt that Beyoncé will walk away with this prize, and deservedly so, for "Spirit" from The Lion King, which she sells like crazy in her performance. But one of the few good things you can say about Cats is that Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber's original song, "Beautiful Ghosts," is actually pretty good in and of itself.

    WILL WIN: "I'm Gonna Love Me Again" (Rocketman)

    The HFPA, of course, loves big names, so it is likely to go for either Taylor Swift (Cats' "Beautiful Ghosts"), Elton John (Rocketman's "I'm Gonna Love Me Again") or Beyoncé (The Lion King's "Spirit"). Flip a coin.

    A version of this story appears in the Jan. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.