The Academy has tried to diminish the Golden Globes' importance with date changes, but were the Globes ever important to begin with?
The Academy tried its best to kill the Golden Globes, but – imagine this – the show will go on at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night.
For the first time, the Globes will take place after Oscar nominations have already been announced, early in a month-long period between the time the noms are revealed and the day when voting begins.
The Academy's official stance is that its nominations were moved up by more than a week to give members more time to see the nominated films, but observers both inside and outside AMPAS believe that the intention was really to diminish the importance of the Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual shindig has always been something of a thorn in the Academy's side, simply because it is taken seriously by some people as a precursor – or even an influencer – of the Oscars.
So this year, Globes results can't influence Oscar nominations, and the chance that AMPAS voters will even remember what won at the Globes when they finally get around to casting ballots after Feb. 8 is slim indeed.
As for how the Academy's moves will impact the attention paid to the Globes, or what the ratings will be like, or what stars will show up – let's face it, the people who know about these things never put any credence in the Globes to begin with, and the ones who don't will tune in to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and a room full of movie and TV stars regardless of what happens when on the Academy calendar.
And the stars will indeed be there – in fact, they've been on display all weekend, a nonstop barrage of parties and awards shows that Oscar campaigners can think of as the Last Loophole.
Academy rules outlaw inviting Academy members to parties once the nominations are announced, but AMPAS COO Ric Robertson told TheWrap in September that they'd make exceptions for soirees that "had some sort of legacy status." So the usual array of Globes-weekend shindigs – the studio parties that happen every night, the BAFTA Awards Season Tea Party and the Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch – are still open to Oscar voters, despite being against the letter of the law.
That means that the Globes can fulfill their time-honored status as the last big party weekend before the campaigns get quiet and underhanded, as well as their longtime role as a way to impress voters with acceptance speeches.
Are you listening, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain? You'd better bring your A-game on Sunday night when you win the Globes for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical and Best Actress – Drama, respectively, because only one of you will get to the stage at the Oscars.
The Globes also present a few more intriguing scenarios. The show could be a moment of semi-redemption for Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow, overlooked by Oscar Best Director voters but nominated by the HFPA in that category. It could be a last grand hurrah for "Les Miserables," which is expected to take the Best Picture – Comedy or Musical category but seems to be fading as a serious Oscar contender after director Tom Hooper was also bypassed by the Academy's Directors Branch.
Unlike in most recent years, though, the results in the top categories are not a foregone conclusion. While big musicals are generally beloved by the HFPA, "Les Miz" faces a formidable challenge in David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," which is emphasizing its serious side in its Oscar campaign but competing as a comedy at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards (where it swept the comedy categories) and the Globes.
In the Best Motion Picture – Drama category, which occasionally goes to (but doesn't influence!) the eventual Oscar winner, "Lincoln" seems a shaky frontrunner, with "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Life of Pi" also posing legitimate challenges. (Even the final nominee, "Django Unchained," showed surprising strength in the nominations, and can't be ruled out.)
On the television side, voters may go the way of September's Emmy Awards, crowning "Homeland" and "Modern Family" — but they already did that last year, and Globes voters like to fancy themselves ahead of the curve on these matters. That could mean good news for "Girls" or "The Newsroom."
The thing about forecasting the Globes, though, is that who wins really doesn't matter. The point is that the show is a party, that it's looser than the Oscars – much is made of the fact that they serve alcohol at the tables – and that its results are essentially insignificant, because even the people winning the awards know that the voters are 80-odd junket-loving correspondents for foreign newspapers and magazines who do not exactly have critical or professional credibility.
Would the Oscars put up with a host implying that their award was for sale? The Globes not only did that (with Ricky Gervais), they invited him back to savage them twice more. Even the HFPA knows that it's about looseness and fun and ratings and that TV money. It's about creating only a paper-thin illusion that the show means something, knowing that the only folks who buy it are the ones who aren't really paying attention.
They'll pay attention to Fey and Poehler, as long as the zingers are flying. The alcohol will flow, and maybe some speeches will be memorable, and then the after-parties will start and everybody can have one last bash before the Academy gets all strict and tells people to go home and stop socializing.
It's the Globes: Relax and have fun. The Academy can't kill them, but the rest of us don't have to take them seriously.