After wowing both critics and audiences with her performance in the title role of “Grandma,” Lily Tomlin looks like she will win over Golden Globe voters too. Our awards experts — journalists who cover this beat for major media including Variety, Yahoo, USA Today, and Huffington Post — are predicting that this versatile performer will win Best Comedy Musical Actress. She has leading odds of 5-to-2 to finally add a Golden Globe to her extensive awards collection.
And that Globe win will be perfectly timed, coming just five days before Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 14. Our current Oscar odds have Tomlin in 7th place to win Best Actress. However, these standings could well change as awards season kicks into high gear.
In the 64 years that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has presented separate awards for performances in dramas and musicals/comedies, 46 of the Best Comedy/Musical Actress winners have gone on to contend at the Oscars. Fifteen of them won both awards, beginning with that first Globe champ, Judy Holliday (“Born Yesterday,” 1950). The most recent double winner was Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook,” 2012).
Tomlin has a long connection with both these kudos. She contended on the TV side of the Globes in 1971 for her work on the variety series “Laugh In,” losing to Harvey Korman (“The Carol Burnett Show”). In 1975, she lost her Supporting Actress bid for her film debut in “Nashville” to Brenda Vaccaro (“Once is Not Enough”); both of them were bested at the Oscars by Lee Grant (“Shampoo”). Tomlin also lost the Globe that year for Best Movie Debut (Female) to Marilyn Hassett (“The Other Side of the Mountain”).
Two years later, she lost her first Comedy/Musical Actress race (for “The Late Show”) to eventual Oscar champ Diane Keaton (“Annie Hall”). She contended again in that category in 1984 for “All of Me” losing to Kathleen Turner (“Romancing the Stone”).
While Tomlin may not own a Golden Globe (or Oscar), she was the first woman to win Best Comedy Album at the Grammys (“This is a Recording,” 1972), has six Emmys (three for writing, two for producing her variety specials and one for narration) and a Tony for her 1984 solo turn in the play “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.” Last year, she was feted with the Kennedy Center Honors.
Tomlin is on a career roll as of late. She first worked with “Grandma” writer/director Paul Weitz on the 2013 comedy “Admission.” He was inspired to write her the role of Elle Reid, a lesbian poet grieving for her late lover while dealing with a granddaugher in crisis. The film merits a rock-solid 92 at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 100 reviews which are assigned a pass/fail grade. And it scores 78 at MetaCritic, which uses a sliding scale.
Critics singled out Tomlin’s performance, her first in a starring part in a picture since “Big Business,” her 1988 hit laffer with Bette Midler. A.O. Scott (New York Times) enthused, “the wonder that is ‘Grandma’ can be summed up in two words: Lily Tomlin.” David Lewis (San Francisco Chronicle) said, “she’s at the height of her powers; her performance is funny, acerbic, touching and ultimately, exhilarating. David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter) described it as “a sublime match of performer and role.” And Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) called the film “a Tomlin tour de force.”
Sony Pictures Classics got the “Grandma” screeners in the hands of voters at the end of September. Being the early bird could mean that more people watch this intimate slice of life. And Tomlin is already on their radar thanks to her starring role in the hit Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.”
This laffer reunites her with “9 to 5” co-star Jane Fonda as women dealing with the shocking news that their husbands have been lovers for decades. While Fonda, who plays the uptight Grace may have two Oscars, it was Tomlin, as the free spirit Frankie, who was nominated by her peers in the TV academy for Best Comedy Actress at the recent Emmys; she lost to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”).
Tomlin could well find herself a double nominee at the Globes with a bid on the TV side as well. Make your Golden Globe film predictions starting with Best Comedy/Musical Actress to the right or at the bottom of this post and earn a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Globe nominations).
Last year, Gold Derby’s Editors led the way with an accuracy rate of 85% when it came to predicting the Golden Globe film nominations, followed by those Top 24 Users at 84%, the Experts at 82% and all Users with 76%. (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)
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Photo: Julia Garner and Lily Tomlin in “Grandma.” Credit: Sony Pictures Classics