There has been talk amongst film critics lately as to how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided on which categories some films fall into for the Golden Globe nominations. Two films nominated in the “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” category stretch the limits of that definition.
Far be it for me to say anything negative about Nebraska, which was my favorite film of 2013, but it’s not completely a comedy. I mean, it has comic elements, but it’s a dark comedy at best. I wouldn’t have had any problems with Nebraska being nominated in the drama category. In fact, I remember having similar concerns with Alexander Payne’s last film, The Descendants, being nominated in the Globes’ drama category two years ago. I actually felt it was a little bit closer to being a dark comedy, enough that “drama” didn’t feel quite right. True, there was a lot of heartbreak and I certainly shed tears, but evidently Payne’s films don’t perfectly fit into neat labels.
The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis has comedy in it too, music being the heartbeat without which the film could not live, but it’s also an incredibly depressing movie. You don’t leave the theater with any upbeat sentiments. The various edits of trailers for the film include a lot of the dialogue and actions that actually are funny, but those isolated moments don’t add up to a film that I would readily define as “comedy.”
On the other hand, Saving Mr. Banks was submitted to the “Best Motion Picture – Drama” category, though it did not secure a nomination. Given how the trailer is cut, it appears to have quite a lot of humor in it. Apparently it is harder to distinguish between straight drama and straight comedy than we realize.