The Martian was a fantastic movie. It’s the best movie I saw in 2015. If anybody asks, I will happily vote to give The Martian virtually any award it wants. The acting is tremendous; the direction is great; and the cinematography is wonderful. The screenplay was close to perfect. The Martian is many things, but what it’s not is a comedy – and it’s why tonight’s big win at the Golden Globes has an unfortunate downside.
The Golden Globes category is designated as Musical or Comedy. Over the years, a number of musicals have won the award, for example Moulin Rouge and Chicago won the award in back to back years in 2001 and 2002. But more often than not the award goes to what can be politely described as a "light hearted drama" as opposed to a comedy. Most years we let them get away with it because they don’t even bother to nominate real comedies, but this year there were two solid comedies nominated in Spy and Trainwreck - and they got the shaft because they had to go up against more "dramatic" films.
Comedies almost never win these kinds of awards. By their very nature they’re designed to have us laugh at them, so it can be difficult for the movie viewer to view the film in a serious light and judge performances, script, etc. That’s why the fact that the Golden Globes even has this kind of award is valuable. It’s one of the few places where great feature comedies can be recognized. But this year, somebody instead decided that since we laughed more at The Martian than we did at another movie, it qualifies as a comedy. Let’s be clear: the use of humor in a screenplay is not the same thing as making it a comedy.
The last time a true comedy won the award was in 2009, when the prize went to Todd Phillips’ The Hangover. That’s the sort of movie that people think about when they think about comedy. That’s the sort of film that should be receiving nominations for this award. Both Trainwreck and Spy were hilarious comedies that deserved their nominations. One of them deserved the win.
All five of the movies nominated in the Best Picture, Drama category were valid choices, and we understand that it’s tough to narrow it down to five nominees - but that’s part of the deal. It’s a reason why the Oscars increased their list to as many as 10 films, because there are always a lot of movies worthy of consideration.
Making a comedy takes just as much work and skill as a drama, but they’re different kinds of movies and shouldn’t always have to compete with each other. Hopefully in the future the Golden Globes can give real comedies their time to shine.