Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Don't look to Golden Globes for Oscar clues

Thank you, Golden Globes, for being a decent dress-up rehearsal for award shows that matter.

Thanks for showcasing crushes from my first and second childhoods — Jacqueline Bisset and Jennifer Lawrence — and for obtaining Diane Keaton's day pass from whatever planet she's living on these days. Thanks for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Amy winning and not expecting it. Thanks for finishing on time.

Now step aside, understudy, and let the headliner take over.

This year's Golden Globes results won't mean much Thursday morning when Oscar nominations are announced.

The Globes used to be a strong indicator of how movies and performances would fare with Academy Award voters. Not because the 89 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were experts. They simply ended early enough to influence careless Oscar voters needing a crib sheet. Since 2002, the academy bumped up its balloting timetable, so Globes results can't sway voters (although the nomination list still may).

For a decade before the change, 87 percent of Oscar's best picture selections had previously won Golden Globes for best drama or musical/comedy. Since the timetable adjustment, that correlation rate has been cut in half.

It's also important to remember that Oscar voters aren't star-struck junket jockeys like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose voting taste typically errs on the side of celebrity. If nominated, Leonardo DiCaprio has a tougher Oscar road against a less photogenic veteran like Bruce Dern. Although Matthew McConaughey and his "recalibration" would be a formidable match, indeed: the grizzled survivor and the comeback kid, two of the academy's favorite sentimental story lines.

You can also expect Oscar voters to show more love for distinctly American movies like Lee Daniels' The Butler and perhaps Lone Survivor (both zero Globe nominations), that may not reach or touch their foreign readership. Even 12 Years a Slave appeared ready to go 0-for-7 Sunday night until the last envelope was opened.

Post-Globes bumps

Of course, winning anything helps to build awards season momentum. Two surprising winners Sunday night are suddenly in Oscar voters' sights, in categories missing clear favorites.

In the foreign language film competition, Italy's The Great Beauty upset the notorious lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Color. Because France didn't submit Blue in the Warmest Color as its official Oscar entry, it isn't eligible for nomination. Two other strong Globes contenders — Iran's The Past and Hayao Miyazaki's anime farewell The Wind Rises — didn't make the academy's short list of contenders.

Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty immediately steps into the favorite's role, with its tragi-comic tale of an aging, flash-in-the-pan author reconsidering his La Dolce Vita existence. No release date for The Great Beauty around Tampa Bay has been set but should be forthcoming, especially if an Oscar nomination comes Thursday.

In the best original score competition, Alex Ebert won the Globe for All is Lost, Robert Redford's one-man show. The choice makes sense because music is crucial to expression in this nearly wordless sea adventure, as it was with The Artist's silent era homage two years ago.

If he's nominated Thursday, Ebert's Oscar bump likely won't be as great as Sorrentino's. But in a category where it's always too easy to vote for John Williams or Hans Zimmer again, a fresh alternative is welcome.

What's next

Of course, Academy Award nominations are out Thursday morning. Then there's Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards (8 p.m., TNT, TBS), an important Oscar factor since actors comprise the single largest voting branch of the academy, nearly one-quarter of 6,028 members. Who they select means something to voters, especially the best ensemble cast award that often forecasts the best picture Oscar.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter. Information from Variety was used in this report.

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