Golden Globes switcheroos: Good for Meryl Streep but bad for Cate Blanchett?

With the Weinstein Company pitching “August: Osage County” to Golden Globe voters as a laffer, Meryl Streep certainly has a better shot at winning while Cate Blanchett could be in trouble with “Blue Jasmine” being touted as a drama.

“August” received just so-so reviews at the Toronto filmfest and Streep faced strong competition for Drama Actress, even before Sony Pictures Classics decided to position Blanchett there. Indeed, with that switcheroo, Streep won’t be facing any other likely Oscar contenders in the Comedy/Musical Actress category. The Globes darling – she’s won eight of her 27 bids — should walk away with another trophy for her crowded mantle. 

Likewise, Bruce Dern would have had to face an onslaught of A-list stars if “Nebraska” were entered as a drama, including Robert Redford (“All is Lost“), Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips“), and Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club“). Given the Globes’ love of celebrities, a character actor like Dern might not even have earned a nomination. But in Comedy/Musical Actor, where he’s the likeliest Oscar candidate in the field, he is suddenly the man to beat.

The drama races are a battleground, which makes the decision to push “Blue Jasmine” in those categories even more surprising. Blanchett will be pitted against her chief Oscar rival: Sandra Bullock (“Gravity“) and that’s a risky gambit.

Aloss to Bullock will halt Blanchett’s momentum, especially as “Gravity” will have broader support from the academy. Sure, over in comedy/musical, Blanchett would have had to compete against Streep, but Streep is beatable, especially when facing the Oscar frontrunner. That happened just last year, when she was nominated for “Hope Springs” and lost to eventual Oscar champ Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook.”

“Blue Jasmine” really is a comedy — a dark, pessimistic comedy, sure, but “Crimes and Misdemeanors” it’s not. It’s common for dramas to try to enter the comedy/musical races where the competition is less steep — really, did anyone other than the Weinsteins and HFPA think “My Week with Marilyn” was a comedy? — but it’s rare for a film to go in the opposite direction.

Amy Adams is a wild card. “American Hustle” still hasn’t screened, and it could ultimately land in either race. Though it might seem difficult for a new candidate to shake things up at the last minute, remember that Jessica Chastain didn’t seem like a major factor for “Zero Dark Thirty” last year until late in the game.

Best Drama Actor is even more crowded. Four actors have a legitimate shot at this stage: Redford, Hanks, and McConaughey, as well as Chiwetel Ejiofor in current Best Picture frontrunner “12 Years a Slave.” Ejiofor doesn’t have the name recognition of his competitors — like Quvenzhane Wallis last year, he’s the actor whose name Oscarologists most need to learn how to pronounce — but he’s certainly familiar to Golden Globes voters, who have nominated him three times before.

When it comes to winning, though, he’d probably have a better shot if “12 Years” were a comedy, but, alas, even the HFPA probably wouldn’t go for that.

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