Ava DuVernay Selma

The Movies

If you’re reading /Film you probably don’t need any deeper familiarity with the Golden Globes winners in 2015, but just for the sake of completion we’ll run through some of them. The biggest happy surprise at this incarnation of the Globes was that every film that took home an award, with the exception of one, was produced as an independent. (The lone outlier was How to Train Your Dragon 2, which was also one of this year’s few truly head-scratching awards.) The Golden Globes are more indie-friendly than many other awards setups; the 2008 and 2012 awards were largely dominated by indie winners. But it’s still a nice crop to see on a major TV awards event.

Leviathan

The best foreign film award went to this story that takes on the Book of Job and emerges with a portrait of masculinity in modern-day Russia and a readiness to tackle issues of corruption and the imposing and crushing effect of a brutal bureaucracy. Leviathan starts off seeming small and fairly contained, but expands to intimidating scope. (Leviathan is available to rent or purchase digitally through sources such as iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon.)

Still Alice

In this adaptation of the novel by Lisa Genova, Julianne Moore plays a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and the film follows her attempt to maintain identity and stability in all facets of her life while dealing with the losses that come with her illness. While Still Alice isn’t a great film, it has been the subject of quite a bit of talk about the performance from Julianne Moore that anchors the movie. And, yeah, her work here is one of those performances that is very much worth watching despite the fact that the rest of the film doesn’t rise to her level.

Selma

Ava DuVernay’s film was short-changed when it comes to awards, taking home only the Best Original Song trophy. Should David Oyelowo have taken Best Actor over Eddie Redmayne? Almost certainly, yes, because his performance is crucial to this film’s delicate and humanistic portrayal of a Civil Rights icon. Oyelowo and DuVernay sidestep the limitations of the biopic by focusing on just one part of Martin Luther King’s life. The result is a powerful and incredibly effective film that demand to be part of our ongoing conversations about the American social fabic.

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So what does it all mean? Depends on your perspective. The Golden Globes are voted upon by a body of about 90 people, none of whom are members of the Academy. So if you’re looking for Oscar connectivity, forget it.

But a lot more people now know about Transparent and Jane the Virgin than did twenty-four hours ago. That’s a plus. The wins for female-driven work, both on TV and in film, is a win. The fact that Selma lost out in big categories but took home at least one award is a win.

This is the awards show that was little more than a joke a couple days ago, so we can’t expect it to become a standard-bearer for progress and diversity in one fell swoop. But here we see honors for perspectives that previously might have been overlooked, and as Maggie Gyllenhaal said, “what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film.” (And, thanks to Transparent, for trans actors and writers, even with the fact that the show’s lead role is played by the cis-gendered Tambor.) There could be many more of those roles, both in front of and behind the camera, but this sort of recognition could be a step towards making that a reality.

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