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Tuesday, January 14, 2003
It's offically Oscar season. (If you didn't know, the season starts at Christmas (the deadline for movies to be released in order to be considered for that year's Academy Awards) and runs through the winter to the end of March, when the Academy Awards take place. This year's show is on March 23. In future years, the show is going to be moved back into February to shorten the campaign season.) You will undoubtedly see movie advertisements during this period which tout the number of Golden Globe nominations that a picture receives. The Globes have turned into the motion picture industry's unofficial Oscar preview night. But you should pay no attention to Golden Globe nominations when choosing how to spend your 9 bucks. The Globes are a complete fraud.

The Globes are one of many awards shows that hand out trophies for the best movies, actors, directors, and writers each year. The Globes are given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which basically consists of the foreign equivalent of the sychophantic reporters who work for publications such as Us Magazine and the E! network and ask completely inoffensive questions of celebrities. Nobody should or would care what they think about movies, except that they have cynically entered into a symbiotic relationship with the entertainment industry to serve each others' purposes. Indeed, the track record of the Globes has not been good, with the horrible "Evita" getting nominations and Pia Zadora once winning an award.

The symbiosis functions as follows: the Foreign Press, of course, wants attention for their awards show, which translates into having big stars and studios granting them access and giving them gifts and junkets, as well as a fat contract with NBC. The industry, on the other hand, wants something that will help them sustain Oscar hype for three months and that will put butts in the seats. The Globes serve that purpose perfectly. The awards are calendared to occur just about at the same time as Oscar nominations, while Globe nominations are announced way back in December. Of course, it is likely that the nominators in the HFPA haven't seen most of the movies up for consideration when they are required to turn in their nominations (especially since many contending films haven't even been released yet at that point), but who cares? It's publicity, baby! (The fact that nominators haven't seen the films probably was a factor in Evita getting those nominations a few years back.) And that publicity comes at exactly the right time-- all the serious movies that nobody has heard about but which might win Oscars come out in December, and what better way to give the movie instant legitimacy than to put "5 Golden Globe Nominations including Best Picture" in the ad? Voila, instant cache!

And as for those nominations-- it will help you to read the fine print. You see, the Golden Globes have twice as many nominations in each category as the Oscars do. They do this by splitting everything up between "dramas" and "comedies", whereas the Oscar just has one category for "Best Picture", "Best Actor", etc. The studios, in their advertisements, go to ridiculous lengths to conceal this. In their print ads, the words "GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEE: BEST ACTOR" might be written in bold 32 point type, with the word "(Drama)" written sideways in 10 point type. In radio ads, they don't even mention the qualification: I just heard an ad that said "and now it's been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture of the Year". Of course, there is no such category-- there is only "Best Picture (Drama)" and "Best Picture (Comedy)".

This, of course, serves the industry's purposes quite well, because it doubles the number of films that qualify as "Oscar contenders" and implies that there are a lot more good films out there than there usually are. This is very important because there are many moviegoers who make it a point to see the Oscar contenders each winter. Thanks to the Globes, the industry may sell these people twice as many tickets.

The bottom line is that you should pay no attention to the Globes. If you are interested in paying attention to the Oscar race, wait until the Oscar nominations actually come out. Then be my guest and see the films. But ignore the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual shindig. It's just an elaborate scheme to separate you from your pocketbook.

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