Ever since Ricky Gervais took over the hosting of the Golden Globes in 2010, the show's been revitalized as a bratty, nose-thumbing version of its self-important big Oscar sibling, a feat continued this year by former Saturday Night Live stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts. But did Sunday's mock-Oscars really offer any insight into next month's Academy Awards results?
In truth, the Golden Globes gave almost no hint of how the Oscars will play out. The one-two punch of Ben Affleck's crowd-pleasing Argo wins for best director and best picture, for example, is probably not a predictor of Oscar victory. (Affleck was snubbed by Oscar in the best-director category.) The fewer than 90 foreign journalists in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who vote for the Golden Globes have no overlap with the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences who decide the Oscars. And historically the HFPA's tastes tend to be more populist than the more highbrow Academy.
Only twice in the past eight years have the HFPA and AMPAS even agreed on best picture, though the Globes, which award two best-picture prizes, one for comedy/music and one for drama, have two chances to coincide with the Oscars.
As well this year, the folks who put on the Oscars made a move that sidelined the Golden Globes even further in terms of influence. The Academy announced its nominations earlier than usual, three days before Sunday night's Golden Globes, which some pundits have claimed was Oscar's way of grabbing the Globes' media spotlight and refuting any claims that HFPA influences Oscar nominations.
The organizations also have very different cultures. The HFPA journalists have a reputation of being more celebrity-struck than the Academy, which means a prestige indie film such as Beasts of the Southern Wild, which featured no stars, was off the Golden Globe voters' radar, but still may do well on Oscar night.
Also, given that HFPA voters write for foreign publications, a quintessentially American film such as Lincoln could not have been expected to get the same support as it will get from the Academy on Feb. 24. Lincoln took only one of its seven Golden Globe nominations – Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor, drama.
But the example of Lincoln underscores what the Golden Globes can do to give a film profile even if it doesn't win prizes. Having former U.S. president Bill Clinton on hand to offer his personal endorsement for "this brilliant film" that "gives us hope that we can do it again" is as strong a validation as Lincoln could hope for heading into the Oscar race.
While the Golden Globe speeches couldn't tilt Oscar nomination chances this year, generous or moving turns should leave Academy members well-disposed toward some of the favourites. Jennifer Lawrence, one of the best-actress Oscar favourites for Silver Linings Playbook, did nothing to hurt her chances with her charming acceptance speech as best actress in a musical/comedy for the same film, as she continues to define herself as this generation's Diane Keaton.
In the Oscars, she'll be up against Jessica Chastain, who won the best actress in a drama prize Sunday for her role in Zero Dark Thirty. Her speech emphasized the links between the CIA agent she played and director Kathryn Bigelow as an outsider in a man's world. Oscar voters didn't give Bigelow a directing nomination. Arguably, Chastain's speech could indicate a push for a compensating best-picture vote for the spurned filmmaker.
Actors Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) and Day-Lewis (Lincoln) each could declare themselves best-actor winners Sunday night in separate drama and music-comedy categories, but on Feb. 24, only one will take home the important prize.
The Oscars' best-supporting-actress favourite, Anne Hathaway, showed class by saluting her older rival for the Oscar prize, Sally Field, who plays Mary Todd Lincoln in the film Lincoln.
In the end, from a filmgoer's perspective, the 2013 Golden Globes will be remembered as the year that Affleck got a nice consolation prize, and that Bill Clinton gave a big political endorsement to Lincoln for the Oscar race.