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January-08-2007,
Looking for Value at The Golden Globes...By Hartley Henderson

Next Sunday, the 63rd annual Golden Globe Awards will be handed out for excellence in film and television. While a couple of sportsbooks offered odds on the television categories at the Globes in the past, it appears this year the books are sticking to the main movie categories. As such, this article will focus on the main categories (best picture, best actor, best actress and best director) and will try to find some value plays.

While the Globes are a precursor to the Oscars and there has been a high correlation between winners at the Globes and the Academy Awards, it should be noted that the voting bodies are totally independent of each other. The Academy Awards are voted on by members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which consists mostly of actors that last year numbered close to 6,000. The Golden Globe Awards, on the other hand, are voted on by approximately 90 small time journalists, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which work in Hollywood but write for newspapers in foreign countries. In fact, a TV documentary released in 2003 titled "The Golden Globes: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret" suggested that the public was mislead with these awards since a large number of the general public has always assumed the awards are voted on by fellow actors, producers and directors--- when in fact it's just small journalists. And in an attempt to continue to eschew their importance, the journalists strive to vote for the most hyped films that they believe will win the Oscars as well, so they can claim that they indeed voted for the award winners first and hence continue to promote the importance of the Globes. Furthermore, the documentary suggested that these journalists are so insignificant that they are easily bought off by studios and stars.

The high correlation between winners at both awards shows seems to suggest that the documentary may be more sour grapes than fact, but it should also be noted that when there have been differences in the voting for the main categories, the winners at the Globes tended to be for larger blockbuster movies or more recognized names. For example while "Million Dollar Baby" took home the Oscar in 2004 for Clint Eastwood, the Globes chose the much more heralded and larger budget film "The Aviator". In fact, quite a few insiders suggested that the charm of Martin Scorcese and Leonardo Di Caprio won the awards at the Globes themselves. Still, in the past 22 years, 17 of those 22 winners won both Oscars and Golden Globes. For best Actor, only 12 of the past 22 winners won both a Globe and Oscar.

The main difference between the Oscars and the Globes, of course, is that the Oscars choose one Best Picture, one Best Actor, etc., while the Golden Globes vote for two: one for a drama and one for a comedy or musical. This article will quote the odds from Pinnacle Sports at the time of writing, since Pinnacle was the first online sports betting company to offer Golden Globes odds this year. First, we'll consider the 3 categories with no value whatsoever: best drama actress, best comedy actress and best picture musical or comedy, and then we'll look at value plays.

Best Actress in a Drama will go to Helen Mirren. There is absolutely no question whatsoever. She's won every precursor award so far, is loved by all journalists and is the quintessential lock. She's been touted to win for this role ever since she agreed to it. Her acting was spot on as Queen Elizabeth II, and the Globe voters know full well that she will win the Oscar also. At the Oscars, Merryl Streep has a small shot for her role in "The Devil Wears Prada", because of her popularity with other actors at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, but realistically her role was not as difficult or as well acted as Mirren and for the Globes her chances are irrelevant since Streep and Mirren are nominated in different categories. At last check Mirren was 1/20 to win the award. Those odds may be ridiculously short, but betting against her is essentially throwing away money. Similarly, Merryl Streep, for the "Devil Wears Prada", is almost a sure thing, mainly because she's up against no one. The only other actress in the comedy or musical category getting any interest is Annette Bening for "Running with Scissors". Unfortunately, the movie was low budget and grossed very little at the theatre. It's not the type of movie that Globe voters will go for, and they'll give the award to the more heralded and beloved Streep. Unfortunately, at 1/7 odds she represents no value. Lastly, for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical the award is almost certainly to go to "Dreamgirls". The toe tapping musical is a favourite for Best Picture at the Oscars and was released by Dreamworks Studios, arguably the prime movie studio today. The movies biggest threat is "Borat" and "Little Miss Sunshine". As mentioned in a prior Oscar article, "Little Miss Sunshine" has gotten rave critic reviews, but unfortunately it is not the type of movie that the HFPA would vote for. "Borat" was a raging success beyond anyone's wildest predictions, but it's not in the same category as "Dreamgirls". "Borat" will get its chance for recognition with Sacha Baron Cohen's nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. At odds of 1/5, however, it's difficult to consider betting on "Dreamgirls".

That leaves 4 categories left, Best Actor for both categories, Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director. In the category Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, Sacha Baron Cohen is the favourite, and rightly so. He was a riot in the movie "Borat" and is loved by the public and critics alike. Having said that, at 1/5 odds he represents no value. The movie was fun to watch and no doubt the journalist voters of the HFPA will be able to relate to a clueless foreign journalist who comes to America and tries to adapt to a foreign culture, but it must be remembered that "Borat" was a series of skits from the "Ali G Show" wound into a movie. Generally speaking, actors from tv skits don't win major movie awards. Another factor going against Cohen is that Johnny Depp is nominated for his work in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest". That movie went on to smash "Spiderman"'s box office record and the HFPA journalists may feel it's necessary to reward the film in some way for that feat. Giving Depp the award could be terrific vindication. At 7/2 odds, Depp represents terrific upset value. Also, it should be noted that a couple of high profile sites are picking Aaron Eckhart as the surprise winner for his role in "Thank You for Smoking".

The other acting category for a drama series appears to be Forest Whittaker's to lose for his role as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland". He is 1/3 at Pinnacle. Like Mirren, he has won absolutely every single critics award handed out so far this year and on paper appears almost unbeatable. Unlike Mirren, however, he has some competition in the forms of Peter O'Toole and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio's chances seem to be hindered by the fact he is nominated for two movies, "Blood Diamond" and "The Departed". In reality, however, the voters will only consider him for "The Departed". "Blood Diamond" has gotten little recognition by critics or fellow actors, and the HFPA will almost certainly look solely at his role in "The Departed" instead. In that movie DiCaprio was spectacular, although he had a good supporting cast with Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon. It's highly unlikely he can win the Oscar, but this is the Globes where the awards are voted for by awestruck foreign journalists who gave him the award for "The Aviator" in 2004, while the Oscar that year went to Jamie Foxx. It's true that Foxx was in a different category in 2004 at the Globes (Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical), but apparently DiCaprio didn't even finish 2nd in the Oscar voting that year. As well, Peter O'Toole has a good chance for his role in the movie "Venus". It's highly unlikely that a majority of voters at the Academy of Arts and Sciences will give the Oscar to an inferior role just for popularity's sake, but it is not impossible that a majority of 90 small time journalists could vote for O'Toole to say that "the Globes gave O'Toole his due". Don't forget, in 1996 the Oscar for supporting actress went to Juliette Binoche for her well loved role in "The English Patient", while the Globes gave in to the sentimental vote and "gave Lauren Bacall her due". Plus, as mentioned earlier, of all the categories, best actor had the lowest correlation between winners at the Globes and the Oscars. This is a category ripe for an upset.

For best Director it appears that Martin Scorcese will be tough to beat at 2/11 odds. But he can be beaten. Scorcese was already given a win in 2004 for "The Aviator", and if "The Departed" doesn't win best picture they may look to give the directing award somewhere else. Two realistic alternatives exist, Stephen Frears for "The Queen" and Clint Eastwood for "Letters from Iwo Jima". Eastwood, like DiCaprio is nominated twice in the category, but he will get no interest for "Flags of Our Fathers". "Letters from Iwo Jima" is a serious Oscar contender, but was not included in the Best Motion Picture Drama category. It was nominated for Best Foreign Film, however, and appears a lock to win that. And since the Director's Guild of America and the Oscars gave their award to Clint Eastwood in 2004 for "Million Dollar Baby", while the Globe went to Scorcese, the Globes may try and "fix" that now by giving Eastwood the award this year. For that matter, even Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu has a chance as director of Babel in this category. Scorcese is the favourite for the award and rightly so, but at 2/11 odds? Please! Eastwood is clearly the value play here.

The last category to consider is best Motion Picture Drama. At first, the momentum seemed to be towards "The Queen", but of late it switched to "The Departed" and a bit towards "Babel". "The Departed" is a great movie and received good reviews from the critics, but this isn't the type of film that usually wins Golden Globes. The Globes tend to go to more sentimental and/or pure drama films like "Brokeback Mountain", "Million Dollar Baby" and "Scent of a Woman". Gangster movies do not tend to do well, "Bugsy" excluded. Bugsy, however, was more of a dramatical characterization of a gangster and had little gore. At 2/5 odds, "The Departed" is a great bet to try and beat. Look for "The Queen" or "Babel" to pull off the upset.

01-08-07
Hartley Henderson
MajorWager.com
henderson@majorwager.com



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