Globe wins could drive Oscar noms

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Wanna win an Oscar? Start with a Globe and your chances next March will be that much better.

That's because the 82nd annual Academy Awards have been pushed back to March 7, two weeks later than last year, to avoid competing in late February with the Winter Olympics. In short, the awards season calendar has been tinkered with just enough to tip the nominating scales in favor of anyone who wins a Golden Globe next January.

Consider these dates: In 2010 Academy members must return their nomination ballots by Jan. 23 -- a full six days after the Globes announce their winners.

When those 90-odd members belonging to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who've actually seen all the movies put their stamp of approval on a film, it inevitably sends a message to everybody else, including Academy members who may not have strong opinions about all the movies, or have at tha point even seen many of them.

It only takes a handful of such votes to make a difference between being nominated for an Oscar and having come really close.

Last year Oscar nomination ballots were due Jan. 12, exactly one day after the Globe winners were revealed. With that timetable Globe victories had little to no impact on Oscar noms.

However, the Globe noms announced last Dec. 11 were able to influence Academy members facing their usual December dilemma of how to watch 50 or more films in three or four days while packing for holiday trips to Aspen or Maui. Solution: Just see who the HFPA nominates and be sure to watch those.

Most "for your consideration" movies open late in the year so there's always a logjam of films to look at. And, it wouldn't make that much difference if the dvds arrived earlier because most Academy members are too busy making films to take time to see them. Most of them essentially play catch up at year-end.

Under those circumstances, it helps to know who the Globe nominees are and it's even more helpful to be able to know who actually won. Noms for pictures or stars that generated a critics group buzz earlier in the awards season suggest a trend or, better yet, a convenient bandwagon to jump on.

But noms from out of the blue can really put a film on Academy members' radar.

Case in point: Who expected an Oscar nod for "The Reader" before it got a best picture-drama Globe nom last December? Probably nobody other than (producer/distributor) Harvey Weinstein. The major critics groups hadn't applauded "Reader" so it had very little buzz going for it before the Globe noms. The fact that Kate Winslet was also starring in "Revolutionary Road," a more mainstream drama also seeking Oscar consideration, didn't help "Reader's" Oscar prospects. Plus, there was confusion about whether Winslet would be a supporting or lead actress candidate for "Reader."

Getting into the Globes drama race -- competing with "Slumdog Millionaire" (which won), "Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon" and "Revolutionary" -- put "Reader" on Oscar voters' radar. It's a safe bet that some Academy members made time to see "Reader" who wouldn't have done so if it weren't a Globe nominee. Bottom line: "Reader" nabbed five prime Oscar noms -- best picture, director, actress (Winslet won), cinematography and adapted screenplay.

The flip side of this is that "Doubt," the other serious drama angling for the Academy's fifth best picture slot, didn't get a best picture-drama Globe nomination and, perhaps as a result, didn't become an Oscar best picture nominee. Like "Reader," "Doubt" was a serious drama that hadn't resonated with critics groups. Without a Globe nod, it had very little going for it when Oscar voters marked their nomination ballots. While "Doubt" also got five Oscar nods, they were almost all for performances -- best actress, supporting actor and two supporting actresses plus adapted screenplay.

With that in mind, the strategy for anyone hoping to get into the next Oscar race may very well be to fight like hell -- to win a Globe.

That's easier said than done, however, given this recession driven economy. Studios that used to care enough about filmmaker relationships to commit money for awards marketing campaigns walked away from the table last time. They got away with penny-pinching because they could cite "Slumdog's" endless victories with the critics groups and guilds and argue that it made no sense to compete against the inevitable.

This year's another matter. We don't know yet who has a shot at being nominated; in fact, at this point nothing's opened that even looks like a contender. But being able to springboard off a Globe win into the Oscar race is a great advantage. Filmmakers, stars and their agents who understand what that means should start now to twist studio arms to loosen the purse strings that will make serious Globes campaigning possible.

See Martin Grove's Zamm Cam movie previews on www.ZAMM.com.
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