BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Another major piece of this year's Oscar puzzle will fit into place Sunday, with the handing out of the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills.
In past years, conventional wisdom held that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual picks for Golden Globe Awards exerted some influence on voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as they made their choices for Oscar nominations. That cannot happen this year, since academy voters must return their Oscar nomination ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers by 5 p.m. Saturday -- 24 hours before the Golden Globes are handed out.
Even though the Oscar nominations cannot be affected by the outcome at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, there is still a chance that academy members' choices might have been influenced by the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced Dec. 13. Certainly, this year's Oscar nominees -- scheduled to be announced Jan. 25 -- will reflect the influence of the intense annual lobbying campaigns that have come to be associated with the Hollywood awards season.
Typically, the Best Picture Oscar winner emerges from the field of Golden Globe nominees. It almost has to, given that the HFPA gives out two best motion picture trophies, and therefore has 10 nominees each year -- 11 this year, since there are six nominees for best drama movie and five for best musical or comedy.
The nominees for best drama movie have been on the receiving end of a steady drumbeat of promotion for months -- even though some of them have yet to arrive in some good-sized U.S. markets.
The field includes director Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biography "The Aviator," Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols' "Closer" and the J.M. Barrie biography "Finding Neverland." The other nominees are the Rwandan genocide drama "Hotel Rwanda," the Alfred Kinsey biography "Kinsey" and Clint Eastwood's latest masterpiece "Million Dollar Baby."
The nominees for best musical or comedy movie are "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," the animated blockbuster "The Incredibles," the screen version of the long-running Broadway musical "The Phantom of the Opera," the Ray Charles biography "Ray" and writer-director Alexander Payne's road trip comedy "Sideways."
Five of those movies -- "The Aviator," "Finding Neverland," "The Incredibles," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Sideways" -- stand the best chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar. That's because they are this year's nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award, the Producers Guild of America's annual prize for best picture.
Eleven of the past 15 winners of the PGA's top honor -- including last year's winner, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" -- have gone on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The Directors Guild of America also provides a fairly reliable indicator of Oscar gold with its annual award for best feature film director. The DGA winner, with a few notable exceptions, typically goes on to win the directing Oscar. It is also usually the case that, whichever movie takes the directing Oscar also takes Best Picture.
Just as the HFPA has two sets of best picture nominees, it also has two sets of best actor and actress nominees -- one for drama and one for musical or comedy. As a rule, the winners in the drama categories stand a better chance of going on to Oscar gold than their counterparts in musical or comedy pictures.
This year, the Golden Globe nominees for best actor in a drama are Javier Bardem ("The Sea Inside"), Don Cheadle ("Hotel Rwanda"), Johnny Depp ("Finding Neverland"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Aviator") and Liam Neeson ("Kinsey").
Among them, only Cheadle, Depp and DiCaprio were nominated when the Screen Actors Guild announced its nominees this week for the 11th Annual SAG Awards. The other SAG nominees -- Jamie Foxx ("Ray") and Paul Giamatti ("Sideways") -- are both nominated for Golden Globes for best actor in a musical or comedy, along with Jim Carrey ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), Kevin Kline ("De-Lovely") and Kevin Spacey ("Beyond the Sea").
The Golden Globe nominees for best actress in a drama are Scarlett Johansson ("A Love Song for Bobby Long"), Nicole Kidman ("Birth"), Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake"), Hilary Swank ("Million Dollar Baby") and Uma Thurman ("Kill Bill: Vol. 2").
Among them, only Staunton and Swank were nominated for the SAG Award. The other SAG nominees are Annette Bening ("Being Julia"), Catalina Sandino Moreno ("Maria Full of Grace") and Kate Winslet ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind").
Bening and Winslet are both up for Golden Globes for best actress in a musical or comedy, along with Ashley Judd ("De-Lovely"), Emmy Rossum ("The Phantom of the Opera") and Renée Zellweger ("Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason").
The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards will be presented Sunday in ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in ceremonies to be televised live over NBC.
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