Golden Globes Preview: Never Mind the Voters, Let’s Party

As the Hollywood Foreign Press Association tries to repair its image, the Globes offer a moment in the spotlight and a table full of drinks

The center of power in Hollywood has shifted, briefly and curiously, to 80-odd Los Angeles-based journalists (and part-time journalists) for foreign newspapers,  magazines and websites.

That means it’s time for the Golden Globes.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual awards show may not be the most credible bash in town, but it gets lots of attention, draws millions of viewers to NBC, offers studios bragging rights and banner headlines for their movie ads and brings enough stars into town that other organizations make sure their own shindigs are Globes-adjacent.

So in addition to the main event on Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton, the next week will include the AFI Awards lunch, the Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch, the BAFTA/Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards dinner, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and enough parties to leave even Jordan Belfort begging for a little peace and quiet.

Also read: Golden Globes Parties: TheWrap’s Ultimate Guide for 2014

It’ll culminate with Oscar nominations bright and early next Thursday morning, at which point the Globes will mostly be forgotten and attention will turn to the real main event, and the point of all this awards-season tomfoolery.

But for now it’s Globes weekend, a time during which everyone agrees to behave as if those few dozen aging journalists of questionable repute have impeccable taste.

And to be fair, HFPA voters acquitted themselves honorably with the slate of nominations they revealed on Dec. 12 – there were no embarrassments like the nominations for “The Tourist” or, even more infamously, the 1981 award to Pia Zadora, and no questionable films shoehorned into ill-fitting categories for the sake of the stars who might show up.

Also read: Golden Globes Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

Sure, you could question the classifications that call some films comedies and others dramas, but for the most part those were studio decisions, not HFPA ones.

And while the line between comedy and drama may be blurring into insignificance these days, the audiences with whom I saw “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle” (all comedies in the eyes of the Globes) laughed a lot.

To its credit, the HFPA has been taking steps to become known as  journalists rather than junketeers over the past few months, from landing a group interview with Julian Assange to coming up with an entirely respectable batch of Globes nominations.

The controversies that swirled around the organization in recent years, including an expensive lawsuit with Dick Clark Productions and another with a former HFPA publicist who alleged that nominations could essentially be bought, have died down. (The former hasn’t gone well for them in court; the latter was settled.)

Meanwhile, they hired two of the best awards-show hosts in town in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And they now have a president in his mid-40s, automatically derailing wisecracks like Ricky Gervais’ comment from a few years back about having to help a different HFPA president get off the toilet and put his teeth back in.

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No, it’s not enough to persuade any Oscar voters to watch the show for tips on how they should vote. After all, Academy members turned in their nominating ballots two days ago and can’t cast final votes for more than a month, by which point they probably won’t even remember who won at the Globes.

But it is enough to put everybody in a party mood on Sunday night – and that’s the key to the Globes, the awards show that has always celebrated the fact that stars drink at their tables and get loose and have more fun than they do at those big, tense, serious Ocars.

These awards are about getting loose. And they’re about trying out acceptance speeches in a less stressful setting, which is more important for folks in tight races (say, actor or supporting actress) than for strong favorites like Cate Blanchett or Jared Leto.

See video: 10 Golden Globes Deliciously Awkward Moments

Last year’s show was a triumph for Ben Affleck and “Argo” that came right on the heels of his snub at the hands of the Academy’s Directors Branch. (It’s funny how the AMPAS decision to move its nominations before the Globes last year, which many thought was designed to hurt the Globes and diminish their importance, instead only paved the way for a key moment for the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner.)

This year’s calendar, though, finds the Globes back in its usual position before Oscar nominations; this year, the show can offer its winners a moment to shine, but no redemption.

Then again, a moment to shine is a Globes specialty, be it the last such moment during awards season (“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”) or just one more moment in a long string of them (“Argo,” “The Artist,” “Slumdog Millionaire”).

So relax. Have another drink. Don’t get too tense. It’s only the Golden Globes.