The Golden Globe Awards are fun, and aren’t really meant to be taken seriously. Yes, sometimes it creates a phony buzz around a film that some folks tie into what happens with the Academy Awards. This year, the nominations for the Oscars were announced before the Golden Globes ceremony, so all pretense of a real connection between the two sets of awards are gone.
To understand the Globes, you have to know a few things. For one, it’s a tiny and at times questionable group. There are just 84 voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, a phrase you hear so often the evening of the presentation that you don’t realize how very small and insignificant the group is. Some work for members of important foreign journals; some, uh, don’t. It’s a motley crew, and kudos to their marketing efforts in making us think they’re a bigger and more relevant than they are.
The attendees refer to the event as a party, and it always appears a funny, breezy, woozy affair. It’s a family gathering of actors and other film people, and they view it as a chance to dress up, kick back, and see old friends. That’s the draw, not the accolades.
Aside from being a small group, it’s a quirky one. They have their favorites, and they have their reasons for nominating certain folks. Over the years, you’ll find preferences for Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Angelina Jolie, whether or not their performances were worthy that year. This last name is also as likely to be invited, for example, more because of whom she will bring to the party than because of an acting triumph, and this is one of the transparent weaknesses of the group. The possibility of seeing red-carpet stars and their famous mates figure in to the nominations more than we know.
They also have a reputation for being easily bought, most notoriously when Pia Zadora was voted Best New Star of the Year for 1982. The fact that her incredibly rich husband threw great parties and had money to burn for promotion might have had something to do with that risible choice (read sardonic tone). Before and since, many in the group have been thought to be able to be bought for the price of a good meal plus a few drinks.
Not that they get things terribly wrong. It’s impossible to decide “the best” in any art form, and they generally don’t hand out the big awards to the completely undeserving. So this year’s choices will likely not be terrible. So when you see that some picture won “Best” anything, remember that this is a tiny group of folks who work for oversees publications, many of whom are heavily influenced by all kinds of persuasion. But the movie folks enjoy the party, so we should too.