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Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker star in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, about a long-serving White House butler during a turbulent period in American history.

The Golden Globe awards may not rate highly for awards prestige, but as a television show that publicizes prestigious movies, it's a big deal. The show is simply no longer considered a reputable predictor of the Oscars' best picture choice (the awards agreed only a dismal 33 per cent from 2003 to 2011), but they have emerged as a far more entertaining broadcast than the Academy Awards, and arguably, given their post-holiday timing, more influential on movie box office.

Surprises and snubs? There's one big one: The much-hyped and commercially successful Lee Daniels' The Butler was shut out, along with Forest Whitaker's and Oprah Winfrey's performances in that film. It's the kind of sentimental, worthy drama that is usually Golden Globe catnip, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of a few dozen foreign journalists working in California, has been known to proffer improbable nominations to get superstars to attend in the past. There will be no partying with Oprah this year.

Also notable, if of doubtful significance, is the relatively low support for Martin Scorsese's blistering The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, which opens Christmas Day, was only shown to press this week and reviews are still embargoed. Expect it to have a significant impact at Oscar time.

Otherwise, the Globes nominations list is a reminder that it has been a good year at the movies with no sure-fire favourite. Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, which took the people's choice prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, and David O. Russell's star-studded American Hustle, with seven nominations each, are Oscar favourites.

It's worth remembering that the 6,000 Academy voters tend to be more discerning than the HFPA. A couple of critically acclaimed movies that missed the Globes cut may well earn Oscar noms, including Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and Richard Linklater's Before Midnight.

In the acting categories, the Golden Globes cast a wide net, with 30 nominations (male and female, dramatic and comic, lead and supporting), so most of the year's top performances are covered. That said, it wouldn't be a complete shock to see Brie Larson (Short Term 12) landing a best actress nomination at Oscar time by knocking off one of the perennial nominees, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson or Judi Dench. In the male categories, the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said), Harrison Ford (42), Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) and James Franco (Spring Breakers) were shut out, though all are credible nominees in supporting roles.

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