Picture-Illustration: Vulture

If a tree falls within the forest and nobody is round to listen to it, does it make a sound? Associated query: if a movie will get an award and nobody is round to observe, does it matter?

We are going to presumably uncover the reply to that query on Sunday evening, when the Hollywood International Press Affiliation is scheduled at hand out its 79th annual Golden Globe awards — however not in a televised ceremony. The Golden Globes, a TV mainstay since 1979, misplaced its longtime house at NBC again in Could, fallout from a collection of scandals and resignations that resulted within the group vowing to reform itself and developing quick.

Sunday’s Golden Globes will as an alternative be a non-event. The HFPA waited till 5 days earlier than the ceremony to launch particulars: the group will collect on the Beverly Hilton to each distribute its awards and “shine a light on the long-established philanthropy work of the HFPA.” However “because of the pandemic surge… there will not be an audience on January 9th,” leaving solely “select members and grantees” within the room. (Earlier, Selection reported that the group had tried, and failed, to recruit movie star presenters.) Will probably be a personal occasion, with out even a lot as a livestream, Deadline reported Thursday. They may merely tweet out their winners and put out a press launch.

With the group disgraced within the public eye and (at the very least briefly) erased from tv, will its winners have any affect by any means on this yr’s awards race? Properly, we will take an informed guess, with some precedent.

In January of 2008, the leisure business was nonetheless within the midst of the four-month Writers Guild of America strike, which shut down manufacturing on scripted programming, together with the Globes. (You don’t assume these snarling, defensive, principally unfunny Ricky Gervais quips write themselves, do you?) The HFPA requested a particular waiver from the WGA permitting them to rent union writers for the present; the union refused, and threatened to picket the ceremony.

Nominees and presenters weren’t going to cross that picket line, so the group cancelled the standard awards ceremony in favor of a half-hour press convention open to all media. NBC, which had aired the Globes since 1996, tried to show that drab affair into an hour-long particular hosted by Entry Hollywood’s Billy Bush (keep in mind him?) and Nancy O’Dell, with predictably miserable outcomes: a few quarter of the present’s typical viewers tuned in.

To be able to assess the affect of that January’s barely-noticed Globes on the Academy Awards 5 weeks later, one should first grant the notion that the Globes typically predict the winners — a defective premise at finest, although one the HFPA has used usually to justify its existence and affect. In 2016, I crunched the numbers and located that the Globes solely predicted the Oscar winner for Greatest Image half the time, and Greatest Director even much less regularly (40 %). The Globes’ appearing picks matched up far more regularly, although — Greatest Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actor proved prescient 90 % of the time, and Greatest Supporting Actress did 70 % of the time. Final yr, Alissa Wilkinson at Vox revisited the numbers and located the Globes’ accuracy has remained spotty; even taking into consideration that the Globes have twice as many alternatives for predictions (since they offer out separate awards for Drama and Musical/Comedy), they’ve solely given a Globe to the eventual Greatest Image in three of the final six years (matching up on Moonlight, Inexperienced E book, and Nomadland, however lacking Highlight, The Form of Water, and Parasite).

That very same doubling up helps account for the upper fee of accuracy within the appearing classes. And it’s held robust, with the Globes awarding 100% of the eventual Oscar winners for Greatest Actor, Greatest Actress, and Greatest Supporting Actress from 2016 to 2020, and all however one Greatest Supporting Actor in those self same years. However this speaks much less to the grand predictive powers of the HFPA than it does to their potential to do what any Oscar blogger can — to gauge which performers are gathering buzz as possible Oscar winners. Seemingly winners in appearing classes are inclined to emerge early and keep their pole place by means of awards season; the Globes are a part of that strategy of temperature-taking, which regularly has as a lot to do with the vigorous campaigning of the nominee (and their supporting studio) than the standard of the efficiency.

And this holds true of the 2008 Zombie Golden Globes. That yr’s eventual Oscar winners for Greatest Actor and Greatest Actress had been Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood and Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose; these actors additionally gained the Globes (for Greatest Efficiency by an Actor in a Movement Image — Drama and Greatest Efficiency by an Actress in a Movement Image — Musical or Comedy). However they had been the clear front-runners for these prizes from the second their movies unspooled the earlier yr, within the type of show-stopping, attention-grabbing roles that appear designed for awards success.

The Globes additionally matched the Oscars on Greatest Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem for No Nation for Previous Males, which once more, duh — although they diverged on Greatest Supporting Actress, which the Globes handed to Cate Blanchett for I’m Not There, solely nominating the eventual Oscar winner Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton.

However they had been off, as typical, on the Greatest Image and Greatest Director winners, a sign much less of the affect (or lack thereof) of the little-seen ceremony than the tendency of the thrill in these classes to shift with the winds all through the early months of the yr. The Globes for Greatest Movement Image went to Atonement (Drama) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Road (Musical or Comedy), not the Academy Award winner for Greatest Image, No Nation for Previous Males. The Coen brothers additionally shared the Greatest Director prize for that movie, however the Golden Globe for Greatest Director went to Julian Schnabel, for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

So if the Globes had been roughly as consequential as ever in 2008, they need to predict this yr’s Oscars with about the identical consistency, proper? Properly, not fairly so quick. The Globes-to-Oscars match-ups for final yr’s COVID-safe Zoomathon ceremony had been fully the wrong way up. For as soon as, the Globes precisely predicted each Greatest Image and Greatest Director (Nomadland and its director, Chloé Zhao) however completely whiffed the appearing nominees. The Globes for Greatest Actor went to Chadwick Boseman and Sacha Baron Cohen; the Oscar, notoriously, went to Anthony Hopkins. The Globes for Greatest Actress went to Andra Day for The US vs. Billie Vacation and Rosamund Pike for I Care a Lot, however Nomadland’s Frances McDormand gained the Oscar; Jodie Foster gained the Greatest Supporting Actress Globe for The Mauritanian however wasn’t even nominated by the Academy, which as an alternative awarded Minari’s Youn Yuh-jung.

Extra, as Vulture’s Josef Adalian put it, rankings for final yr’s ceremony had been “a disaster of epic proportions,” drawing a mere 6.9 million viewers. That was barely one-third the viewers of the earlier yr’s telecast, making it “the least-watched ceremony in modern Globes history” and negligibly greater than even the no-stars-allowed Billy Bush-hosted 2008 affair, which logged 5.8 million viewers. What went awry? Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson hazarded the most effective guess: it was a yr when Oscar buzz was “muted without the usual rounds of red carpet premieres, parties, meet-and-greets, and relentless campaigning.”

So with no actual campaigning, there was much less buzz for the Globes’ prognosticators to select up on. And with nobody watching the awards, the Globes didn’t verify any buzz themselves. That state of affairs appears prone to maintain true this yr as nicely. It’s much less that the Globe’s affect shall be blunted by its lack of a telecast than by the truth that everyone seems to be pondering (and worrying, and obsessing) about different, extra essential issues proper now.

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