The Golden Globe Awards have always been somewhat of a mystery. Handed out by the enigmatic Hollywood Foreign Press Association to reward accomplishments in both film and television, the Golden Globes' primary function has typically been as a reasonably accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations and, eventually, the winners. Unlike the Oscars, the inexplicably popular Globes split their major categories into "Drama" and "Musical or Comedy," but for the last three years, the five Best Picture Oscar nominations have invariably contended for a Best Picture Golden Globe.

Since the Oscars were moved from March to February this year, the Golden Globe winners could not have been predictors of Academy Award nominees, which were announced on Tuesday. But certain attitudes are still reflected in both events. Scarlett Johansson, long thought to be the Best Actress Oscar favorite and Globe-nominated for her roles in both Lost in Translation (classified as comedy, though really nothing of the sort) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (drama), nevertheless lost out to Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give and Charlize Theron in Monster, respectively. Two days later, Hollywood pundits were surprised to find a complete snub of Johansson in the Best Actress Oscar category, with both Keaton and Theron making the cut.

The Oscar nominations contained some other surprises, not least the nomination of Whale Rider's young Keisha Castle-Hughes for Best Actress. Previously considered a lost cause, her nomination may have been a response to the Motion Picture Association of America's short-lived attempt to prevent screeners (video tapes of DVDs of the year's films sent to awards voters "for their consideration") from reaching voters' hands. Newmarket Films, Whale Rider's distributor, had leaned heavily on screeners in its Oscar campaign.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King emerged a triumphant winner on Sunday, taking home both Best Picture -- Drama and Best Director. While the previous two installments of the trilogy garnered numerous Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, they had failed to win anything beyond the technical categories. With the saga coming to an end, the Academy is widely expected to reward it with a Best Picture statuette for the final film and for director Peter Jackson, who accepted his Golden Globe with a quip about looking something like a hobbit himself.

Charlize Theron's Best Actress win at the Globes, as well as her Oscar nomination and almost certain win, continue the trend of beautiful female actresses being rewarded for radically altering their appearances. In Monster, Theron slipped into her role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos by gaining 30 pounds and wearing a roughly equal amount of make-up. Last year, Nicole Kidman won both awards wearing a giant prosthetic nose as Virginia Woolf in The Hours; three years ago, Hilary Swank won an Oscar for Boys Don't Cry, in which she played a young woman who dresses as a young man.

There's more to say, more trends to notice, more phenomena to spot, but you can take it from here. These awards may be drivel, but they're an awful lot of fun to follow.


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