Barbie may well have been the biggest film of the year, but it’s still got major competition as awards season approaches. Greta Gerwig’s 2023 blockbuster has been picking up nominations left and right. Its stiffest competitor, as always, is Oppenheimer — but at the 2024 Golden Globes, the two films were expected to dominate their own respective categories, comedy and drama. Oppenheimer took on drama, and effectively swept in the corresponding categories. But Barbie, while nominated in nine categories, only took home one award.
In a surprise upset, Poor Things beat out Barbie for best picture (comedy or musical) and lead actress. The film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, stars Emma Stone as Bella Baxter, a proto-feminist Frankenstein’s monster who embarks on a sexual (and later philosophical) odyssey through Victorian Europe.
“I see this as a rom-com, but in the sense that Bella falls in love with life itself, rather than a person,” Stone stated at the ceremony. “She accepts the good and the bad in equal measure, and that really made me look at life differently.”
Lanthimos’ latest is without a doubt one of 2023’s weirdest films, a farce that’s sparked a fair amount of discourse around feminism on-screen and the need for sex and nudity. It’s also one of the year’s funniest and most gorgeously-rendered movies, complete with gorgeous costuming and sweeping set design. In so many respects, Poor Things is Barbie’s weirder, more provocative cousin. But its success at the Golden Globes still comes as a surprise, however pleasant, as Barbie has been a major frontrunner in most awards conversations.
Could this upset be the first of many? The Globes don’t necessarily dictate the future of awards shows like the Oscars, but Poor Things is shaping up to be this year’s dark horse. Barbie and Oppenheimer remain the favorites in many of the above-the-line categories, like best picture and director. With contenders like Poor Things in the mix, however, their wins in other categories may not be as much of a sure thing.
Lanthimos’ eerie fairy tale is the latest in a growing number of unconventional awards favorites. 2022 had Everything Everywhere All At Once, but left-of-center films have steadily been drawing more attention in the past decade. From Get Out to The Shape of Water, awards voters are broadening their horizons. The term “Oscar bait” is losing relevance with each year that passes, as previously-overlooked genres like horror and sci-fi win the credibility they’ve always deserved. Of course, this could be as far as Poor Things goes — but it’d be a mistake to count this film out before all the chips have fallen.