“Golden Globes”: Ones To Watch

Just a few years ago, “Million Dollar Baby” came out of nowhere to scoop a fistful of nominations at the Golden Globes. The movie was so late in the game, hardly any of the awards pundits had given it serious thought, not least because advance word had spread that it was just a female “Rocky.”

The film, of course, went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

This year, not one but three contenders remained largely unseen — Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” — and that doesn’t include the Weinstein Co.’s “Nine,” which was just beginning to be screened at press time. All this leaves the current Globes race with an element of mystery far greater than a year ago when “Slumdog Millionaire” rode its post-Toronto buzz to a sweep of the top awards.

Further complicating predictions is the uncertainty about how to define at least one major contender, Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air.” Paramount has submitted the movie as a drama, usually a far more competitive category than comedy/musical, but the movie could equally compete in the latter category. Ultimately, the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will decide for themselves — and they’ve been known to reject studio definitions and categorize actors and pictures as they see best.

Their decisions will affect which pictures become the ones to watch in the all-important Oscar race, which now — like the Globes — will have 10 nominees as opposed to five in years past. But anyone expecting the Oscars to be a mirror image of the Globes will likely be disappointed; after all, the motion picture Academy’s board of governors deliberately chose not to go the Globes route by refusing to divide its top 10 choices between comedies and dramas.

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