Golden Globes' loss of luster greeted by some

( dpa )- No one has yet come up with a convincing explanation of the importance of the Golden Globes - even in a good year.

But with the screenwriters strike forcing the cancellation of the regular party of the stars and its broadcast all over the globe, the glorified press conference that is taking its place Sunday night will be even harder pressed to prove its worth.

That's mainly a problem for NBC, which is predicted to lose about 15 million dollars in advertising revenue due to the loss of the star-studded broadcast. It will also hit the Los Angeles economy hard, as post-Globe parties are cancelled along with the limos, dresses, hairdos, massages, babysitters, and all the other ancillary services that ride on the back of the glittering event.

Whether there will also be an impact at the box office remains to be seen. Traditionally movie studios have trumpeted award winners with the aim of gaining a boost in ticket and DVD sales.

That could mean a cash bonanza for Atonement, a British drama about forbidden love in World War II that leads the field with seven nominations including best drama, best director and acting nods for British stars James McAvoy and Keira Knightley .

But other movies have been performing better so far this awards season. Chief among those is No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen's vivid and violent thriller about a drug deal gone wrong which has four nominations and has been a critics' favourite .

Another top contender is There Will Be Blood, director Paul Thomas Anderson's visceral drama about a ruthless oil prospector in the early days of the industry, starring Daniel Day Lewis in one of the renowned actor's best ever roles.

Other nominees in the best picture race include Ridley Scott's gritty cop drama American Gangster, David Cronenberg's Russian mafia thriller Eastern Promises, the legal drama Michael Clayton and Denzel Washington's uplifting The Great Debaters.

But bear in mind that the awards are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which includes about 90 freelance foreign journalists, and it seems that Atonement still may have the edge.

"Given a choice they usually prefer a movie with a cross cultural theme," says Los Angeles Times awards pundit Tom O'Neil. "That's why they chose Babel last year over eventual Oscar winner The Departed."

The other major movie award at the Globes is in the comedy/musical category where the main contenders are Hairspray, an upbeat musical about the end of segregation in the US, Sweeney Todd, the ultra violent musical starring Johnny Depp , and Juno, the coming of age comedy about a pregnant teen starring the sensational Canadian newcomer Ellen Page.

Much of the importance of the Globes stems from their status as a predictor for glory at the Oscars, which follow just over a month later. According to the statistics, 24 of the 44 recent drama picture winners have gone on to scoop the best picture Oscar. But the record is tainted in the past three years, when none of the Golden Globes' best movie drama winners have gone on to win the best picture Oscar.

Some in Hollywood are even rejoicing at the demise of the Globes, noting that the HFPA is not made up of prominent film journalists, but of occasional freelancers who seem mainly interested in the parties they attend and the power they wield as choosers of the Globe winners.

"Thanks to the writers strike, NBC canceled this weekend's Golden Globe Awards ceremony. And as far as I'm concerned, it's about time," noted the film writer Sharon Waxman. "As everyone in Hollywood knows, the glitzy annual ceremony watched by millions of people is a con on the viewing public.

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