“Dunkirk” was the Golden Globe frontrunner for Best Film Drama before the nominations were announced, but it has fallen back after getting just three nominations: Best Film Director (Christopher Nolan) and Best Film Score (Hans Zimmer) in addition to the top category. Other films received much more recognition: “The Shape of Water” with seven bids, “The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” with six apiece. In comparison to those “Dunkirk” seemed to under-perform. But did it really? It got everything we expected it to get. If it had also snuck into the Screenplay race or the Supporting Actor contest for Mark Rylance that actually would have exceeded expectations and seemed like major windfall. So perhaps we’re underestimating it for the win now.
The nature of the Golden Globes disadvantages a film like “Dunkirk.” These awards are heavy on acting prizes and have no craft categories at all except for Best Score. And “Dunkirk” is a film with limited dialogue driven by its visuals. Even if it was the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s favorite film of the year it probably couldn’t have received any more than five nominations at the very most, which still would have put it behind most of its rivals for Best Film. Still, can a film with only three nominations really win?
That might be challenging if history is any indication. No movie has won Best Film Drama at the Globes with only three nominations since “The Guns of Navarone” (1961). That’s 56 years of history working against “Dunkirk.” However, “Navarone” was nominated in the exact same three categories “Dunkirk” contends in now, and in recent years there have been a handful of films that won with only four nominations that keep hope alive for the acclaimed war epic.
In particular, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) and “Avatar” (2009) were similar to “Dunkirk” in that they were both lavish visual spectacles without much awards attention for their actors. They both had the same three nominations “Dunkirk” had — Film, Director, and Score — but with one extra, Best Original Song. That’s a category “Dunkirk” wasn’t even eligible for. So perhaps Christopher Nolan should have hired Diane Warren to write “The Love Theme from ‘Dunkirk,'” but even then I don’t think anyone believes songwriting was the key to victory for “LOTR” or “Avatar.” Take that away and those films were equal to “Dunkirk,” proving there’s a path to victory even with fewer nominations than its rivals.
As of this writing only one of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled for their predictions is betting on “Dunkirk”: Erik Davis (Fandango). But the film also has support from three of our Top 24 Users who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Globe winners, as well as six of our All-Star Top 24 who got the highest scores when you combine the last two years’ predictions. When you combine the forecasts of all users “Dunkirk” ranks third with 15/2 odds behind frontrunner “The Shape of Water” (7/5 odds) and close contender “The Post” (9/4 odds). So we mustn’t count it out.
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