Are The Golden Globes Really A Barometer For The Oscars?

When Slumdog Millionaire won four Golden Globes (including one for Best Motion Picture – Drama) on January 11, it was immediately pegged as the movie to beat at the forthcoming Academy Awards ceremony.  Eleven days later, it secured ten Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture.
For many years now, The Globes, which air in January, have been tagged as “a barometer” for what will happen at The Oscars, which used to air in either March or April but for much of this decade have been bumped up to February.  The conventional wisdom says that whatever and whomever wins big at The Globes will do likewise at The Academy Awards.
But is this true?  Let’s start with Best Picture.
The Golden Globes began handing out bowling trophies in 1944 in order to “honour” films released the previous year.  What title did the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association pick as the best movie of 1943?  The Song Of Bernadette.  Surely, it won the Oscar, as well, right?  Nope.  The golden naked man went to Casablanca.
That’s right.  There weren’t two separate Golden Globe categories for Best Picture that first year.  (That wouldn’t start happening until 1946 when a category for Best Motion Picture Promoting International Understanding was introduced.  It was discontinued after 1964.)  In fact, from 1959 to 1963, there were three categories.  During the golden age of movie musicals, those particular pics were nominated in a separate category from comedies and dramas.  Also, for one year only, 1956, there was a Best Picture – Outdoor Drama category along with Best Picture – Drama and Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.  The last time there was only one Best Picture category occurred in 1954.
That being said, how many times has a Golden Globe Best Picture winner, regardless of the category it was nominated in, gone on to take home the Academy Award, as well?  Of the 65 previous ceremonies (1944 to 2008), only 43 movies have managed to win both.  That’s a 66% success rate.  Not bad but hardly “a barometer”.
Lately, a Golden Globe Best Picture winner hasn’t won the Best Picture Oscar for four consecutive years.  The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King was the last double-winner in 2004.  Curiously, in 2006, when Brokeback Mountain won Best Picture – Drama, Crash, the film that would ultimately beat it for the Academy Award, wasn’t even nominated.  In 1983, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial won the Globe while Gandhi, which didn’t make the cut for Best Picture – Drama, won the Oscar.  And in 1973, The Exorcist won the bowling trophy while The Sting brought home the Oscar.  The latter film was also rejected for nomination by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 
Let’s move on to Best Actor.  What are Mickey Rourke’s chances for winning an Oscar in this category this year?
Of all the Lead Actor Globe winners between 1944 and 2008, whether they won for being dramatic, funny or musical, 49 from the past 65 ceremonies have gone on to win the Best Actor Academy Award.  That’s a 75% success rate.  That’s good news for Rourke, whose work in The Wrestler snagged him the bowling trophy and secured him an Oscar nod.  Even more good news is the fact that since 2004, the Best Actor In A Drama winner has also won the Best Actor Oscar.  Still, there’s a 25% chance someone else will win.  We shall see.
What about Best Actress?
Only 45 Lead Actress Globe winners between 1944 and 2008 have also been awarded the Best Actress Oscar.  That’s a 69% success rate.  Interestingly, there have been two occasions where a Best Actress Oscar winner didn’t even receive a bowling trophy nomination for the same performance.  It happened in 1962 when Sophia Loren won the Academy Award for her work in Two Women and again in 1964 when Patricia Neal won the same prize for her performance in Hud. 
Since 2003, however, a Lead Actress Globe winner, mostly in the drama category, has also taken home an Oscar in the same year.  That won’t be happening this year.  While Kate Winslet’s Globe-winning lead performance in Revolutionary Road failed to earn her an Academy Award nomination, her Globe-winning supporting work in The Reader did secure her a shot at Best Actress.  Sally Hawkins, The Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Globe winner, wasn’t nominated.  Make that a 68% success rate.
Moving on to Best Director.  Only 35 Globe winners have gone on to win the Oscar for the same movie.  That’s a 54% success rate.  Pathetic.  By comparison, only six winners of the Directors Guild of America prize have failed to win the Best Director Oscar since those awards were first distributed 60 years ago.  That’s a 90% success rate.
Finally, there’s Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.  Only 31 Supporting Actor Globe winners since 1944 have won the Oscar for the same performance while a mere 26 Supporting Actress Globe winners have done the same.  Those success rates are 48% and 40%, respectively.  Some “barometer”, huh?
Past Supporting Oscar winners like Helen Hayes (Airport), James Coburn (Affliction), Walter Matthau (The Cookie Fortune), Robert De Niro (The Godfather Part II), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda) and Estelle Parsons (Bonnie & Clyde) were completely snubbed for Globe nominations.
So, to all those 2009 Globe winners also gunning for Oscars, take note.  (You, too, media.)  Being handed a meaningless trophy from an unrespected organization is by no means a sign of Academy Awards in your future.  Just ask Jim Carrey.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 2, 2009
10:12 p.m.
Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great article, Dennis! I always wondered if that was all BS about the Globes being a prediction to the Oscars. It’s cool to see actual numbers to evaluate this “faux” phenomenom!

  2. […] years ago in this space, I asked, Are The Golden Globes Really A Barometer For The Oscars?  The answer in 2009:  […]

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