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  1. Arts & Entertainment

How much do Sunday's Golden Globes really matter?

Published Jan. 10, 2014

Let's begin by declaring that Sunday's Golden Globes results should be taken with a grain of salt, or even tinier, a grain of what The Wolf of Wall Street kept snorting up his nose.

The Golden Globes are fun to watch, no question. It's the only movie awards show urging attendees to get drunk and do or say something stupid, by placing champagne magnums on each table, in case the wide-open bar doesn't quench thirsts. It has the funniest returning hosts this side of Neil Patrick Harris in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes show usually ends on time.

Nothing wrong with the packaging, but the contents are spoiled.

Too often Golden Globe nominations appear to be earned solely on star power — Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and their 2010 flop The Tourist are prime examples — so voters can breathe the same air as A-listers. The Globes even divide movies and TV shows into drama and musical/comedy categories, increasing the celebrity volume.

Payola scandals have occasionally surfaced in connection with the Globes, from Pia Zadora's husband buying her a rising star award to Universal Pictures schmoozing Scent of a Woman to three wins. Shady dealings can happen when there's momentum to be gained in the race for Academy Awards, the only prizes that truly matter in Hollywood.

Documentary filmmaker Vikram Jayanti, in his 2004 film The Golden Globes: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret, dismissed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosting the Globes as "freeloaders" selecting winners solely on the basis of "who kisses butt best."

Studios don't have that many people to corrupt for Golden Globe consideration.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is composed of only 85 freelance writers, mostly living in Southern California and working for overseas publications. You probably never read their stuff, so taking their word about cinematic quality is risky. On the other, cleaner hand, Oscar voters number more than 6,000, so swaying a dozen votes doesn't matter. A dozen Golden Globe votes either way can make a difference.

So, enjoy the show Sunday night but raise an eyebrow when Leonardo DiCaprio wins best actor in a comedy/musical because he's sexier than Bruce Dern. Or when 12 Years a Slave isn't named 2013's best drama because it's too American, and friends are more impressed when voters take selfies with Gravity star Sandra Bullock than Lupita N'yongo.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

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