Before this year’s Golden Globe nominations were announced most of our Experts were predicting Viola Davis to win Best Film Drama Actress for her performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” However, the film ended up under-performing with only recognition for her as well as Best Film Drama Actor for Chadwick Boseman. Meanwhile, “Promising Young Woman” exceeded our expectations by not only getting into Best Film Drama Actress for Carey Mulligan, but also Best Film Drama as well as Best Film Director (Emerald Fennell) and Best Film Screenplay (also Fennell). Subsequently, some Experts have now been switching over to Mulligan as the front-runner as the movie’s overall performance gives her a strong path towards victory.
In “Promising Young Woman,” Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a young woman who has been traumatized by a tragic event in her past and is seeking revenge against those who crossed her path. This movie marks Mulligan’s second Golden Globe nomination overall, following her breakout performance in “An Education” in 2009. As of this writing she is now ahead to win the Globe with 10/3 odds while Davis is in second place with 39/10 odds, based on the combined predictions of all of the users who have their predictions thus far.
I think it’s likely for Boseman to take Best Film Drama Actor due to it being his final on-screen performance before dying of colon cancer back in August of last year. and it would be surprising if “Ma Rainey” ends up winning both awards it’s up for. The last time that a film managed to go two-for-two without a corresponding best motion picture nom was “Dallas Buyers Club” back in 2013: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both came out victorious for their respective lead and supporting performances.
You’d think Mulligan and Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) would be considered the actors to beat against Davis, Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holliday”) and Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) by default due to their movies being Best Film Drama nominees. But in the previous 10 years only four of the winners for Best Film Drama Actress were performances in motion picture nominees: Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (2010), Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), Brie Larson in “Room” (2015), and the aforementioned McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017). So that certainly keeps hope alive for Davis.
However, keep in mind that of Davis’s five previous Golden Globe nominations, she only managed to win once: Best Film Supporting Actress for “Fences” (2016). But that year the Hollywood Foreign Press was helping to put her on the trajectory of winning her very first Oscar. That was not long after she came close to winning Oscar for “The Help” (2011), so that narrative helped her collect trophies all along the way. While a win here could put her on the historic path to becoming the first Black Oscar winner for Best Actress since Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball” (2001), I think it’s likely that Davis will have more opportunities to accomplish that in the future, so this nomination may not have the same urgency.
As for Mulligan, since “An Education” she has given many acclaimed performances that went unnoticed by major awards groups in films such as “Never Let Me Go” (2010), “Drive” (2011), “Shame” (2011), “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013), “Mudbound” (2017), and “Wildlife” (2018), a few of which got Globe nominations in other categories but not for Mulligan. With “Promising Young Woman,” she’s not only back in the awards conversation in a major way, but also with a performance that may be one of, if not her very best.
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