BEST BETS -- 1/9/16


 Best bets: Hollywood called it a night Sunday after sitting through the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 74th annual Golden Globes awards. Now it's on to Tuesday's nominations for the British Academy's 70th annual BAFTA awards.

Understandably, awards marketers will make the most they possibly can of every Globes win or BAFTA nom to boost their film or star's Oscar prospects. But, in reality, the Globes and BAFTA's aren't great bellwethers for the Oscars because of significant differences in how the three groups are made up and vote.

On the best picture front, it's particularly hard to argue that Sunday's Globes wins told us anything meaningful that we didn't already know about who Oscar's front runners are. The HFPA's great affection for "La La Land" – seven noms and seven wins, including best picture-comedy or musical – certainly gives the musical something great to shout about -- but it already was a prime Oscar front runner going into the Globes. Perhaps the HFPA's enthusiasm for light hearted entertainment will rub off on Academy members whose taste in best pictures tends to be much darker.

"Moonlight," the Globes' best picture-drama, will benefit from winning, too, but it also was already a solid Oscar front runner before the Globes were handed out. Unlike "LLL," "Moonlight" was a GG orphan. It took home only one win from HFPA voters.

Of course, that's the GG award that counts the most and with diversity on its side and the potential to be nominated in a number of prime categories, "Moonlight" could now emerge as an Oscar powerhouse. It could become the face of artistic diversity at a time when that really matters to Academy members.   

Nonetheless, the HFPA really didn't show a lot of love for "Moonlight." Mahershala Ali, who was favored to win best supporting actor, lost Sunday to Aaron Taylor Johnson for "Nocturnal Animals." Director Barry Jenkins lost to Damien Chazelle for "LLL." Naomie Harris lost best supporting actress to Viola Davis for "Fences."

Jenkins lost for best screenplay to Chazelle for "LLL," but in the Oscar race they won't compete. "LLL" will be categorized as an original and "Moonlight" will be an adapted screenplay because it's based on an unproduced stage play (although it's been categorized as an original in the Writers Guild of America noms). "Moonlight" also lost in the best score race to "LLL."

Where both Globes top winners could see some immediate benefit is at the boxoffice. "LLL" (Lionsgate) placed fifth last weekend with about $10 million and a domestic cume of $51.7 million after three weeks. "Moonlight" (A24) did about $358,000 with a cume of $13.3 million after 12 weeks, per comScore. Exposure on the Globes telecast and all the resulting media coverage could help drive moviegoers to check out both films in the coming weeks.

What the Globes may well have done is hurt "Manchester by the Sea's" best picture Oscar prospects and throw a big monkey wrench into Mel Gibson's comeback hopes for "Hacksaw Ridge." A Globes best director win for Gibson would have sparked big headlines and helped him move forward towards Oscar redemption after 10 years of being in the Hollywood doghouse for his Malibu DUI ranting.         

"Manchester," like "LLL," isn't diversity driven at a time when Oscar voters want to embrace diversity. A Globes best picture-drama victory would have helped it deal with that challenge. Instead, its one win for Casey Affleck as best actor-drama could make Oscar voters regard the film only as a best actor contender.

Of course, that's better than "Jackie's" fate with Natalie Portman losing best actress-drama to Isabelle Huppert for "Elle," which also won best foreign film. Portman had a strong buzz going in this category for playing Jacqueline Kennedy and her Oscar prospects could suffer from losing Sunday. The HFPA's vote reflects its tendency to prefer films that are more international in tone than American. Huppert, on the other hand, has gained strength going into the Oscar nominations balloting.

Globes voters nominate five best picture-drama and another five best picture-musical or comedy titles. BAFTA voters nominate only five best picture contenders. Academy members use a byzantine preferential balloting system that can put between five and 10 hats in the best picture ring.

There is some membership crossover between the British Academy and our Academy (AMPAS) with 500-plus British voters also casting AMPAS ballots. The crossover is probably greatest in Oscar's acting, producing and directing branches, reflecting the Brits' expertise in those arenas. But with more than 6,000 AMPAS members voting, the BAFTA crossover impact is relatively modest although every vote can make a difference.

 There is, of course, no crossover membership at all between either of the Academys and the HFPA, whose 90-odd members are foreign journalists or part-time foreign journalists covering Hollywood for far flung and, in some cases, obscure media outlets.

Nonetheless, thanks to the HFPA's longstanding association with Dick Clark Productions and NBC, the Globes telecast and its red carpet arrivals show reach a huge network TV audience that cares more about who's wearing what than who's doing the voting. The audience just wants to see famous faces smiling on the red carpet and sipping champagne later as the show heads into all those commercial breaks -- and the Globes delivers the goods.

Included in the at-home audience, of course, are many Academy members who aren't partying in person with their HFPA friends at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but still want to see who wins at the Globes. Awards marketers are well aware that their clients' acceptance speeches at the Globes can influence how Oscar voters regard them.

A sloppy, rambling, drunken and lengthy appearance at the Globes is likely to hurt a star's chances of getting to make an acceptance speech at the Oscars. On the other hand, a brilliant, amusing, thoughtful and concise thank-you at the Globes can enhance a star's Oscar prospects.

It's possible to construct charts comparing how, over the years, BAFTA and Globes results have or haven't matched up with Oscar votes. However, every year really brings its own set of unique circumstances, which affect that year's outcome and have nothing to do with how people voted in the past.

This year, for instance, Academy members are under extreme pressure to deliver diversity in their noms for sure and, hopefully, in their wins. After two years of intense #Oscarsowhite media controversy, AMPAS has been working hard to broaden and diversify its membership. There's no question that its members will have diversity in mind as they mark their nominations ballots.

Last year, in a public effort to generate a more diverse membership AMPAS issued 683 new invitations to join the Academy. That resulted, according to the Academy, in a modest increase in diversity that should continue to grow in the future. In the Academy's words, "female" membership rose from 25 percent to 27 percent and "people of color" membership increased from 8 percent to 11 percent. There's certainly more to achieve, but at least there's now been a sincere start in the right direction.

Voting for Oscar noms began Jan. 5, prior to the Globes wins or the BAFTA noms Jan. 10, but doesn't end until Jan. 13. That allows plenty of time for Academy members to reflect on who did well elsewhere. With so much media coverage of just about any awards activity, it's hard for Academy members not to know what's already taken place. Whether they actually care or not, is anyone's guess.

Because BAFTA only nominates five best picture titles and Oscar voters can generate up to 10 such contenders, the likelihood is that the Brits' five best bets will also appear on the Academy's Top Ten-or-So list.

We'll find out who wins Sun., Feb. 12 when the BAFTA ceremonies – hosted again by the always amusing Stephen Fry -- take place at London's Royal Albert Hall. They're seen live in the U.K. on BBC1 and in the U.S. via a delayed telecast on BBC America.

While we're waiting, if we look back at the last eight years of BAFTA and Oscar best picture wins, the resulting match-ups can be read in several ways. From 2009 through 2014, all six years produced the same winner in both races. But in both 2015 and '16, BAFTA and Oscar went their separate ways.

Here's how those best picture votes went:

2009: "Slumdog Millionaire" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2010: "The Hurt Locker" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2011: "The King's Speech" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2012: "The Artist" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2013:  "Argo" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2014: "12 Years a Slave" (BAFTA & Oscar)

2015: "Boyhood" (BAFTA) and "Birdman" (Oscar)

2016: "The Revenant" (BAFTA) and "Spotlight" (Oscar)

You can look at that list and conclude that 75 percent of the time the BAFTA winner also wins the best picture Oscar. Or you can conclude that what once seemed like a predictable situation of twin wins, is no longer the case. In the last two years, BAFTA voters have applauded globally relevant dramas driven by style and technique while Oscar voters have chosen dramas with particular relevance to Hollywood ("Birdman" is about a former superhero movie actor) or to America ("Spotlight" revolves around a newspaper expose of a long covered up sexual abuse scandal within Boston's Catholic Church).

With the Globes, it's pointless to construct charts comparing  winners. Since the HFPA has two best picture categories as well as two best actor and two best actress races, each accommodating 10 contenders, there are twice as many winners in those key categories as with the Oscars. Comparisons are clearly distorted.

Looking back to last year, the Globes' best picture-drama winner was "The Revenant." The Oscar winner, "Spotlight," was a Globes nominee along with the Oscar nominated "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Room" and the not-Oscar nominated "Carol."
         The Globes' best picture-musical or comedy winner was "The Martian," which also was Oscar nominated. To some observers, "Martian" would probably not have won had the HFPA put the sci-fi adventure in the drama category where the odds strongly favored "Revenant" to win. The other comedy or musical nominees were the Oscar nominated "The Big Short" and the not-Oscar nominated "Joy," "Spy" and "Trainwreck."   

As with the British Academy, the HFPA's foreign membership voted with a more global perspective that seemed less relevant to America than the way Academy members voted. And that makes perfect sense since it is the Foreign Press who vote.

As for Sunday's results, "Moonlight's" relevance to contemporary America made it something of a surprise for its best picture-drama win from the HFPA. The other nominees were: "Hacksaw Ridge," "Hell or High Water," "Lion" and "Manchester by the Sea."

The Globes' warm embrace for "La La Land" as best picture-musical or comedy was expected since it's about moviemaking and the HFPA is certainly part of the Hollywood media establishment. Theoretically, "LLL's" Hollywood connection should also help it with Oscar voters, who are all in the business of making movies.

However, "LLL's" big challenge is to somehow overcome Oscar voters' tendency to favor serious dramas as best picture winners. And not having diversity to drive it won't help.

The other Globes best picture-comedy or musical nominees were also not driven by diversity: "20th Century Women," "Deadpool," "Florence Foster Jenkins" and "Sing Street."

Bottom line: Sunday's show was neither the best nor the worst of times for the Globes. The program was overlong, felt slow and was loaded with commercial breaks. On the other hand, it included a touching tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and a memorably outspoken appearance by Meryl Streep.

Jimmy Fallon proved in his debut as host to be talented, likeable and amusing and was a great improvement over the unpleasantly acerbic Ricky Gervais -- but the HFPA didn't give Fallon enough to do throughout the show. If he's willing to return next year, the HFPA needs to make the most of having him on board.

Nonetheless, Fallon was helpful in attracting the viewers the HFPA needs to keep all its sponsors happy. Early ratings reports Monday morning showed an increase of about 2 percent over 2016's show, hosted by Gervais. It also helped that Sunday afternoon's NFL wild card game didn't run long and compete with the start of the Globes telecast.

In any case, the 74th annual Globes are now history and we can happily forget about them and the HFPA until next year.