Do the Golden Globes Really Matter?

Golden Globes

The Golden Globes Awards ceremony on Sunday officially ushered in Hollywood’s award season. Like many, I grew up thinking that winning a Golden Globe made you the favorite for the Academy Award. But how does that assumption really hold up?

Looking back at the Best Picture winners for both ceremonies over the past decade, only five of the movies that have won Best Picture for drama or comedy at the Globes have gone on to win the Oscar: “Moonlight,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Argo,” “The Artist,” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” So what’s the reason for the difference in opinion? There are a lot of theories out there about why these two groups of voters don’t always see eye-to-eye, but if we look back at why the Golden Globes ceremony was created in the first place, I think you will find the most likely answer.

The Globes are voted on by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), and according to the Globes official website:

“During its early years, the HFPA established itself with the studios by innovations such as its World Favorites awards, which it came up with by polling more than 900 newspapers, magazines and radio stations around the world.”

The HFPA continues to “establish itself” today by hosting the Golden Globes, the fanciest dinner party in Hollywood, every year before the Academy Awards. The timing is perfect. It’s right as film critics across the country are releasing their accolades and when the best films are released in theaters to meet the Oscar deadline. But the host of every good dinner party knows that interesting guests are the most important part of pulling off a successful event. And what better way to get those interesting people to show up than to nominate them?

Now I am not the first person to point out that the HFPA may weigh fame more heavily than an actor’s specific performance, and I am not naïve to the fact that even the Academy at times reward actors for their lifetime of work instead of what they did that year. But in general, the Globes nominees do seem to stray from the consensus of critics more often than the voters of the Academy, who work in the industry and are a much more exclusive group.

Take the nomination of “The Tourist” and its stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in the Best Picture: Comedy or Musical category. For those who have not seen “The Tourist,” don’t expect laughter or singing. It’s neither a comedy nor a musical. And Ricky Gervais, the host that year, said what we were all thinking in his monologue:

“I’d like to crush this ridiculous rumor that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the foreign press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. That was not the only reason. They also accepted bribes.”

Back in a 2014 interview, Gary Oldman also had criticism about the legitimacy of the event:

“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is kidding you that something’s happening. They’re fucking ridiculous. There’s nothing going on at all. It’s 90 nobodies having a wank.”

Interestingly enough, Oldman still showed up to the Globes this year and had nothing bad to say when he won for Best Actor.

The Golden Globes may not always nominate the best performances of the year, but there have been occasions when they have gotten it right (e.g., The Social Network over The King’s Speech in 2011). And the ceremony is always interesting, thanks in part to the party atmosphere and alcohol being served. But if you’re betting on Oscar winners, the Globes aren’t going to help you win. Try the SAGs instead.

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