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Top Ten Golden Globe Upsets

Tom O’Neil, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote recently that upsets are routine at the Golden Globes. Perhaps it’s because films are split into two categories — Drama and Musical-Comedy — at the Globes. Or maybe it’s because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes on Globe winners, encourages drinking during its festive event. Ahead of the 68th-annual Golden Globe Awards, we single out the ten most upsetting upsets from years past.


10. Judi Dench, Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown
In what was perhaps the first warning sign that Hollywood had no intention of recognizing James Cameron’s behemoth Titanic, dame Judi Dench upsets Kate Winslet with a performance in a movie absolutely no one saw. Winslet’s Titanic co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Gloria Stuart also would lose in their acting categories. Yet Titanic won in the long run, nabbing $1.8 billion in worldwide grosses, compared to an estimated $13 million for Mrs. Brown.


9. Sharon Stone, Casino
Stone claimed a Best Actress award at the Golden Globes in 1996 for what’s probably the fourth- or fifth-best performance in Martin Scorsese’s overlong Goodfellas wannabe, beating out Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County), and Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility). But it was Elisabeth Shue who Stone truly robbed, overshadowing the wholesome actress’s raw turn as a prostitute in Leaving Las Vegas.


8. Gérard Depardieu, Green Card
The “f” in HFPA stands for “foreign,” which often means non-American actors, directors, and films have a slight advantage when it comes to Globes voting. That was clear in 1991, when Depardieu prevailed over the likes of Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands), Richard Gere (Pretty Woman), and Patrick Swayze (Ghost).

rsz_atonement.jpg7. Atonement

The Academy considered Joel and Ethan Coen’s brilliant neo-Western No Country for Old Men to be 2008’s Best Picture. Film enthusiasts, meanwhile, have come to champion Paul Thomas Anderson’s milk-shake-drinking There Will Be Blood as the year’s finest movie. The Globes? They went with Atonement, a period romance starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.


6. Scent of a Woman
The Academy’s desire to reward Al Pacino with his first Oscar, having overlooked him for such masterpieces as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and the Godfather films, was understandable. But when the Globes tried to go one step further by honoring both Pacino and his tepid film, they ended up looking foolish. Scent of a Woman, a forgettable coming-of-age story, beat The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, and Unforgiven at the Globes in 1993.


5. Janet McTeer, Tumbleweeds
Sometimes the Globes contingency thinks too far outside the box. McTeer, a Tony Award winner and noted television star, mustered an adequate performance in Gavin O’Connor’s Tumbleweeds. But was she better than Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon in Notting Hill and Election, respectively? No. Shortly after her win, McTeer went back to mini-series land.


4. Evita
A musical needs to win in the Globes’ Musical-Comedy category every once in a while. But there’s no chance Alan Parker’s Evita deserved to beat the likes of Jerry Maguire, The Birdcage, and Fargo in 1997. Apparently, the HFPA was delighted that Madonna would be in attendance that evening — spotlighting the Globes’ ugly tendency to nominate celebrities so long as they show up for the televised event.


3. Jodie Foster, Shirley MacLaine, and Sigourney Weaver
When is a win really a loss? How about when you have to share your Globe with two other actors? In 1989, the Best Actress category for drama was a three-way tie among Foster (The Accused), MacLaine (Madame Sousatzka), and Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist), robbing all three performers of a clear-cut victory. A three-way tie seems both improbable and mathematically impossible, which might be why this was the first and only time it happened at the Globes.


2. The Godfather: Part III
Over the years, Francis Ford Coppola’s third Godfather has been designated the trilogy’s redheaded stepchild. At the time, however, Hollywood embraced the film — to an extent. The Godfather: Part III scored seven Golden Globe noms, including Best Motion Picture and Best Director. It lost seven times. That tied The Godfather with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for the most nominations with no wins to show for it. The Academy also saw fit to nominate the third Godfather seven times, but failed to give the film a single trophy.


1. Nashville
Robert Altman’s ode to Tennessee’s country-music scene holds the record for the most nominations in Golden Globes history, with nine. And yet only Keith Carradine’s track “I’m Easy” emerged victorious that evening. As the night wore on, Nashville, its director, and his ensemble were topped by Jack Nicholson, Milos Forman, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In one category in particular — Best Supporting Actress — Nashville nabbed four of the six possible nominations and still lost the Globe.


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