The Martian Golden Globes

The nominations for the 73rd Golden Globes won’t be announced until December 10th, but the classification for certain movies, clarifying whether they’re competing in the drama or musical/comedy category, is already creating some controversy.

20th Century Fox submitted The Martian as a comedy, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has now confirmed it’s been accepted for the consideration in the comedy categories for the awards. If you need any more proof that the Golden Globes are irrelevant, this is it.

If you haven’t seen The Martian, here’s the first trailer for you to watch for a frame of reference:

How’s that for a sidesplitter? That’s a nonstop laugh riot if I’ve ever seen one, a surefire winner for the best comedy of the year. What was the funniest movie you saw in 2015? Oh, it was that hilarious movie about the astronaut who gets left behind on Mars by himself and struggles to survive almost every day.

If you’ve seen The Martian then you know that the movie certainly has a lighter tone than you might expect given the subject matter, and Matt Damon‘s charismatic and talkative character is amusing in his efforts to survive on Mars. But this is a sci-fi adventure drama, not a comedy.

How About Some Consistency?

If we’re going to have The Martian Golden Globes classification as a comedy for having some laughs scattered throughout, then there’s absolutely no reason that Trumbo, a movie with a comparable blend of comedy and drama, should be classified as a drama rather than a comedy. But for some reason, the HFPA accepted Fox’s submission of The Martian as a comedy, but opted to switch Bleecker Street’s Trumbo, which also submitted as a comedy, to the drama category.

And herein lies the problem with the Golden Globes, and its division of films into drama and comedy/musical categories. Every year there are a couple of “comedy” movies that get nominated that simply aren’t comedies. The main reason this happens is because the competition isn’t usually as stiff, so studios sometimes use the comedy category as a way to get more accolades for their movie and cast without as much competition.

Comedy Is the Outcast

This is a problem for two reasons. First, it’s unfair to movies that are classified as comedies and live up to the name. The genre already has a hard enough time getting any awards attention because Hollywood fawns over dramas much more than comedies. Now those comedies’ chance at any sort of glory is dimmed because someone wants an easier road to getting a Golden Globe.

Second, the split plays into to the perceived inferiority of the comedy/musical category. Studios think if a movie isn’t good enough to win anything in the drama category, but it has some laughs, they can just throw it in the comedy category where it’ll win because it’s seen as somehow being more worthy of an award than a straight-up comedy. So the best “comedy” winds up being a movie that isn’t a comedy at all.

With regards to The Martian, this situation is even more frustrating because Ridley Scott‘s movie and Matt Damon’s performance are undoubtedly good enough to hold their own against the rest of the pack trying for dramatic Golden Globes this year. There’s even been buzz about a Best Picture nomination for the movie at the Oscars, something that doesn’t usually happen with sci-fi adventures or comedies. So why is 20th Century Fox taking the easy road?

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