After wowing both critics and audiences with her performance in the title role of “Grandma,” Lily Tomlin looks like she will reap bids from both the Golden Globe and SAG Awards this week. And if she scores nominations with both those precursor prizes, history says she is all but certain to contend at the Oscars too.
Our combined odds — derived from the predictions of experts (journalists who cover the awards beat for major media), website editors, Top 24 users from last year and thousands of readers — say that this versatile performer will compete for Best Comedy/Musical Actress at the Globes and for Best Actress at SAG.
And in the 21-year history of the SAG Awards, all 19 actresses who also contended for the Golden Globe on the comedy/musical side went on to reap Oscar bids. And six of them won the Academy Award as well.
1996: Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) – Oscar winner
1997: Helen Hunt (“As Good As It Gets”) – Oscar winner
1998: Gywneth Paltrow (“Shakespeare in Love”) – Oscar winner
1999: Janet McTeer (“Tumbleweeds”)
2000: Juliette Binoche (“Chocolat”)
2001: Renee Zellweger (“Bridget Jones Diary”)
2002: Renee Zellweger (“Chicago”)
2003: Diane Keaton (“Something’s Gotta Give”)
2004: Kate Winslet (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
2005: Judi Dench (“Mrs. Henderson Presents”)
2005: Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”) – Oscar winner
2006: Meryl Streep (“The Devil Wears Prada”)
2007: Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) – Oscar winner
2007: Ellen Page (“Juno”)
2009: Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”)
2010: Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”)
2011: Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”
2012: Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) – Oscar winner
2013: Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”)
Tomlin has a long connection with the Golden Globes. She contended on the TV side in 1971 for her work on the variety series “Laugh In,” losing to Harvey Korman (“The Carol Burnett Show”). We are predicitng she will a double Globe nominee this year as she is expected to reap a TV Comedy/Musical Actress nomination for the freshman season of her Netflix hit “Grace and Frankie.”
In 1975, Tomlin 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 has never contended at the SAG Awards in its 21-year history, we are predicting she will be a two-time contender there as well. She is a frontrunner in TV Comedy Actress for “Grace and Frankie.”
While Tomlin may not own a Golden Globe or SAG Award, 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 “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”).
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: Lily Tomlin in “Grandma.” Credit: Sony Pictures Classics