No awards show is as difficult to predict as the Golden Globes. They’re the first major entertainment statues to be handed out each year, so there’s no “awards track record” to rely on when trying your luck at Golden Globes betting.
There are always victors who surprise (or even astonish) the pundits. Some observers have charged that the nominations are rigged in order to ensure the attendance of A-list stars at the ceremonies.
And rumors and allegations of vote purchasing always swirl around the Globes, even if they don’t approach the legendary bribery which helped Pia Zadora win as “new star of the year” in 1982 (when her multimillionaire husband flew voters to his Las Vegas casino for lavish wining and dining before they cast their ballots). As late as 2011, there was a major scandal when it was discovered that Sony flew voters to Vegas (all expenses paid) for a private concert by Cher to promote its miserable movie “The Tourist.” Shortly thereafter the film was nominated for a Globe, although it didn’t win.
Nevertheless, lively betting markets develop around the ceremonies each year. That’s probably because awards shows are more fun to watch when you have a few pounds riding on the outcomes. The Golden Globes’ combination of big-name actors, free-flowing liquor and top-notch hosts (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the last few years, Ricky Gervais before that), along with the lack of boring “technical awards,” ensure an enjoyable telecast – often with hilarious or embarrassing moments.
The Golden Globes are split into two categories: motion pictures and television. 14 movie awards are handed out, along with 11 TV awards; almost all are for best movies or shows, best actors/actresses, and best directors (along with a few smaller honors for songs and screenplays). There’s no fluff like the Oscar for “best makeup and hairstyling” or the BAFTA for “best factual series.” That makes for a more interesting show, and means just about every category is an interesting one for punters.
No Sure Bets
Prevailing wisdom among followers of the Globes holds that it’s hard to go wrong when predicting victory for a revered or long-tenured star, or one who has already won multiple awards or nominations. That didn’t work out well for bettors in 2014 when Meryl Streep lost her bid for a record ninth Golden Globe to Amy Adams, Tom Hanks and Robert Redford came up losers to Matthew McConaughey, and Dame Judi Dench failed to collect her third Globe. Similarly in 2012, viewers were shocked when Idris Elba defeated William Hurt and Hugh Boneville for best actor in a mini-series.
However, the theory does prove true often enough so that you shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. In 2014 it worked to the benefit of those who backed two long-time Hollywood favorites, Jacqueline Bisset and Jon Voight. Bisset won as television supporting actress even though her Starz TV movie was largely unknown and she was up against four-time nominee and Emmy-favorite Sofia Vergara. (Bisset’s rambling acceptance speech made her victory worthwhile, though, at least for viewers.)
Voight surprisingly bested Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, expected to be a runaway winner in the series’ final season. The 2013 victory by Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor was easily predicted by most who went with the “well-respected actor and previous winner” theory. And in 2012, Streep and George Clooney surprised no one by taking awards in their respective acting categories.
Another popular saw is that Globes movie voters love historical dramas. Those shows have done quite well in the voting over the years, from “The Last Emperor” to “Schindler’s List” to “Gladiator.” For that reason, pundits were shocked in 2013 when “Argo” was the big Golden Globes winner, beating out the favored “Lincoln” for both best picture and best director.
The only conclusion which can be drawn regarding these theories: when it comes to the Globes, don’t take “conventional wisdom” at face value. Factor it into your handicapping, but nothing is certain at the Golden Globes.
There are several trends which may not be common knowledge, but definitely bear watching for punters.
Once upon a time, Golden Globes movie “sweeps” were relatively common, but now they’re primarily just seen at the Oscars. Five times since since 1944, five films have won five Globes. But that only happened between the years 1965 and 1976 (“Doctor Zhivago,” “Love Story,” “The Godfather,” “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “A Star is Born”). Since then, voters have been much more likely to split their ballots. So even if a movie has been highly touted, don’t expect it to win more than two or three awards at most.
There is one category worth your attention when it comes to motion pictures: best musical/comedy. Golden Globes voters have a soft spot for musicals whether they’re live action or animated, whether they’re good or not, and whether they’ve been successful or not. Since 1992, eight musicals: “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Evita,” Moulin Rouge!,” “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Les Misérables” (plus the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line”) have all won in this category, defeating some formidable comedy movies. It’s true that some musicals have been nominated but didn’t win, such as “Aladdin,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Mamma Mia,” but nearly 40% of the time (over a 23 year period) a musical has beaten out four comedies. That should stand out to any punter interested in finding a winning prop.
As mentioned previously, those in the know believe that Globe nominations and awards are sometimes used as “bargaining chips” to get big names to attend the ceremonies. It’s widely theorized that’s the only reason why the song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” lost out to Bono’s “Ordinary Love” in 2014 – the award may have been a reward for his participation in the event. Other superstars who’ve both attended and then won in recent years include Madonna and Cher. The moral of the story: a giant in the music industry who’s nominated for a Globe has a good shot at beating a field of relative unknowns, particularly if the giant is going to be at the event.
Finally, in recent years the winners for best TV drama have been pretty easy to predict. Basically, “buzzworthy” and critically-acclaimed shows with a bit of an edge stand the best chance of winning at the Golden Globes. Recent victors include Mad Men (for three consecutive years), Boardwalk Empire, Homeland and Breaking Bad; it’s a pretty good bet that voters will continue to reward popular, edgy TV dramas in the future.
Just remember, on Golden Globes night nothing is really predictable. If you can get some good odds on your favorites right after the nominations are announced, and then are able to lay off the bets before the ceremonies – that’s probably the smartest way to make money on the Globes.