• Golden Globes are terrible for comedy and here’s why and how it could be better

    Golden Globes nominees are announcedThe nominees for the 72nd Annual Golden Globes were announced on Thursday morning. Yet again, those zany humans from foreign lands behind the third-rate award ceremony have befuddled us with their interpretation of the term ‘comedy,’ doling out nominations to actors in movies like crime thriller Inherent Vice, IMDB-labeled dramatic biopic Big Eyes and drama-with-punch lines Maps to the Stars starring familiar face Julianne Moore (see the rest of this year’s comedy nominees below). Like the Emmys, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association separates dramas from comedies/musicals for both television and film. Every year, questionable movies are submitted as comedies (and several biopics try to sneak in as musicals) in order to avoid stiffer awards competition from less-than-funny films.

    The increasingly popular “dramedy” concept now blurs the line between “serious” cinema and  light-hearted laughers. Comedy movies now attempt cathartic storylines traditionally seen in dramas and earnest dramas are now, more than ever, peppering scripts with jokes between heavy scenes.

    The Golden Globes created the distinction between dramas and comedies/musicals in 1952. Today, the category has become a second-rate section for light-hearted dramas to snag easy nods. Last year’s comedy nominees caused a stir with American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street nailing several nominations and wins; these films’ producers submitted their movies as comedies to avoid contenders 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Gravity in the drama category. The HFPA gives no criteria to studios on what constitutes a comedy. So as the lines blur between drama and comedy, it might be time for the Golden Globes to rename some of their categories so that actual comedic performances can be honored, as I’m sure was the original intention of the category.

    I propose changing the categories from Best Actor/Actress — Motion Picture Drama and Best Actor/Actress — Motion Picture Musical or Comedy to Best Actor/Actress — Motion Picture and Funniest Actor/Actress — Motion Picture (and similarly change to Best Motion Picture and Funniest Motion Picture). This distinguishes comedic acting from dramatic acting, which would seem to be the whole point of having two different categories. Not all funny people are great actors and not all great actors are very funny. With new distinctions like this, an ambiguously classified movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill could be honored for its “serious” acting performance by Leonardo DiCaprio with a Best Actor nomination and simultaneously earn a Funniest Actor nod for Jonah Hill. A change like this would make it difficult American Hustle‘s producers to bill Christian Bale’s role as the ‘funniest’ of the year.

    New comedy award titles would not distinguish between a supporting actor or a lead actress because it would be about the funniest performances. A ‘Funniest’ category would earn stand-out comedic portrayals respected recognition from the industry. Zach Galifianakis could have been properly praised for his role in The Hangover. Robert Downey Jr. would have easily taken home a trophy for Tropic Thunder, but because he was considered a supporting actor he was tossed into a category which doesn’t separate dramas from comedies. Christ Pratt could be nominated for making audiences around the world crack up as Star-Lord in this year’s unexpectedly hilarious blockbuster comic book movie Guardians of the Galaxy, which was probably overlooked completely because action films rarely receive award season praise. Seriously: does anyone think that Kirsten Wiig (Bridesmaids) wouldn’t have beaten Octavia Spencer (The Help) if the award that year was Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture?

    Both the Golden Globes and Emmys have a separate category for comedies, although their superlatives involve being the ‘best’ or most ‘outstanding’ actor, adjectives that have nothing to do with being funny. It still seems too much for the Academy to take comedy writing seriously but the Golden Globes could lead the way in properly recognizing comedy movies. The worst that could possibly happen is that one day Kevin Hart gets to win a Golden Globe. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    Check out the HFPA’s comedy nominations for the 72nd Annual Golden Globes, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on Sunday, Jan. 11 on NBC.

    *Comedies are italicized in mixed-genre categories*

    Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

    • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Into the Woods
    • Pride
    • St. Vincent

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

    • Amy Adams – Big Eyes
    • Emily Blunt – Into the Woods
    • Helen Mirren – The Hundred-Foot Journey
    • Julianne Moore – Maps to the Stars
    • Quvenzhané Wallis – Annie

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

    • Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • Bill Murray – St. Vincent
    • Joaquin Phoenix – Inherent Vice
    • Christopher Waltz – Big Eyes

    Best Animated Feature Film

    • Big Hero 6
    • The Book of Life
    • The Boxtrolls
    • How to Train Your Dragon 2
    • The Lego Movie

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

    • Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
    • Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
    • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
    • Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

    • Robert Duvall – The Judge
    • Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
    • Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
    • J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    • Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Ava Duvernay – Selma
    • David Fincher – Gone Girl
    • Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignoracne)
    • Richard Linklater – Boyhood

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

    • Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
    • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • Richard Linklater – Boyhood
    • Graham Moore – The Imitation Game

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture

    • Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
    • Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Theory of Everything
    • Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – Gone Girl
    • Antonio Sanchez – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    • Hans Zimmer – Interstellar

    Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical

    • Girls (HBO)
    • Jane the Virgin (The CW)
    • Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
    • Silicon Valley (HBO)
    • Transparent (Amazon)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical

    • Lena Dunham – Girls
    • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
    • Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
    • Taylor Schilling – Orange is the New Black

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical

    • Louis C.K. – Louie
    • Don Cheadle – House of Lies
    • Ricky Gervais – Derek
    • William H. Macy – Shameless
    • Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

    • Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
    • Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Freak Show
    • Joanne Froggatt – Downton Abbey
    • Allison Janney – Mom
    • Michelle Monaghan – True Detective

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    Billy Procida

    Laughspin editor-in-chief Billy Procida is a stand-up comedian in New York City. He hosts The Manwhore Podcast where he talks to women he's hooked up with about sex, dating, and why they didn't work out. Reach him on Twitter.

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