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Golden Globes: How can they like 'Burlesque'?

Cher's name came up on “Late Night with

Cher's name came up on “Late Night with David Letterman” when the host and guest Howard Stern were discussing a replacement for Sharon Osbourne on “America's Got Talent." Photo Credit: Handout

The movie awards season — that heady, frenetic rush of ceremonies culminating in next month’s Academy Awards — begins in earnest with Sunday’s Golden Globes.

The annual honors dished out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are popularly regarded as second in importance only to the Oscars.

We contest that notion and present some reasons the Globes mean much less than you might think:

Hooray for movie stars
The organization that nominates and distributes the Golden Globes, composed of 81 international journalists based in Hollywood, is widely known to be infatuated with stardom and willing to do whatever it can to convince big names to show up at its ceremony. For TV ratings, such an approach makes sense, but it saps the awards of their credibility.

Bizarre nominees
The consequence of that movie-star obsession: Lots of out-of-left-field nominees sporting A-listers. This year is one of the worst on record, with such critically maligned fare as “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Tourist” earning nods. We suspect even Depp himself was shocked.

A ‘dull’ nomination
Still, nothing boggles the mind quite like the three nominations (including one for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical) that went to “Burlesque,” the critically savaged Christina Aguilera-Cher flop set in an L.A. burlesque house. The New York Times derided it as “achingly dull,” and another critic called it “‘Showgirls’ for 12-year-olds.” Really, HFPA? This is one of the five best comedies/musicals of the year?

Suspect ethics
Surely, you’re probably thinking, there must be more to this “Burlesque” story. Naturally, you can’t help but wonder just how a flick that seems likely to win the Razzie for Worst Movie of the Year could end up crashing the Golden Globes. Well, the Los Angeles Times reported that multiple HFPA members were recently flown to Las Vegas, put up in a hotel and taken to a Cher concert, all as part of what Sony called a “long-lead international press junket.”

An Oscar barometer?
The Globes, despite their flaws, are regarded by many as an effective predictor of the Academy Awards. That may not be the case anymore. As Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times writes, “the Globes’ track record as an Oscar barometer is scattershot at best. … Since ‘The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’s’ win in 2005, only one Globes best picture winner (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) went on to win the top prize at the Oscars.”

On TV: The Golden Globes air on NBC/4 on Sunday night at 8.

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