Just in case anyone continued to wonder whether the Golden Globes actually stood for anything other than a night for the TV networks to cash-in on some big-time event advertising, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has once again proven that the only excellence their annual awards show celebrates is their own marketing campaigns.
It seems that after consulting their "rules," the HFPA has determined that Fahrenheit 9/11 is ineligible for awards in any categories while The Passion of the Christ can't win Best Drama Picture but could take home the Best Foreign Language Film award, as well as any others. Both of these decisions are completely asinine.
As far as Fahrenheit goes, the Golden Globes don't have a documentary category -- which in itself is stupid but slightly understandable since they consider themselves more of a populist entity than critical or artistic one -- but they also apparently have a rule stating that "docus are ineligible for consideration in the top film award categories." That's just dumb. No other critics, and I'm sure if you polled HFPA members who were actually working critics (who knows how many that is in reality, though), they would have no problem ranking documentaries among their best of the year. Additionally, by the end of the year there is a better than not chance that Fahrenheit will have outgrossed some films that will receive nominations, and while a film's box office take shouldn't affect its awards consideration (even though it sometimes does), it does indicate that the movie was popular. But see, what the HFPA cares about is movies with actors who will show up for their TV show.
I'm not advocating awards for Fahrenheit; just its eligibility. While I would certainly say that The Passion of the Christ was not a good enough movie to be considered for any award, it also should still be eligible. Hell, if Van Helsing and The Punisher are eligible for the top prize (and they are), there's no reason The Passion shouldn't be. Here again, the Globes rules state that no film predominantly in a language other than English can be eligible for their Best Picture prizes. The Golden Globe foreign film prize is actually much different than the Oscar version. For the Academy Awards, individual countries are asked to submit no more than one film for consideration. That is why there are almost always brilliant foreign films that don't actually get Oscar consideration in the Foreign Language Film category: because their countries didn't submit them. Last year is a weird example of how the Academy's rules work: City of God was one of the best films anywhere last year (I called it #2). It received Oscar nominations for Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Editing and Cinematography, but not Foreign Language Film. That's because Brazil had submitted City of God in 2002, but it didn't even receive a nomination. Suddenly after it receives a release from Miramax and people started seeing it, the film understandably received the attention it deserved. An even better example is the year before when Pedro Almodóvar received directing and screenplay nominations for his brilliant Talk to Her, and even won the latter award. His film didn't even have an opportunity to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar because Spain chose to submit Mondays in the Sun. To be fair, that film won Spain's own Goya Awards, their equivalent to the Oscars, so in a sense they were submitting their "best."
Regardless, the rule is absurd and every year it discounts many worthy foreign films. But at least those films are also able to compete in all the other categories. A film could conceivably even win both the foreign film and Best Picture categories at the Oscars if it was submitted by its host country the same year as it's released in the U.S. I'm not certain, but I assume The Passion would not be eligible for the Oscar foreign language film prize because a) it was produced primarily by an American company and b) both of it's languages are "dead," so they don't represent an official language of any other country. However, because The Passion is completely in Aramaic and Latin, the HFPA has determined for the purposes of the Golden Globes that it is not eligible for Best Picture, but is eligible for Best Foreign Language Film as well as all other categories.
Why bother, though? I mean according to Mel, the damn thing is virtually a documentary anyway, no? In that case, I guess the Globes should just forget about it all together.