Do the Golden Globes matter?

Ricky Gervais hosting the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Jan 10, 2016.
Ricky Gervais hosting the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Jan 10, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Host Ricky Gervais had this quip in his opening monologue: "If you do win tonight, remember that no one cares about that award as much as you do... that award is, no offence, worthless."

The British comedian is right - up to a point. Ever since Gervais refused to take the event seriously when he first hosted it in 2011, the night itself has seen its respectability drop several rungs.

While the evening is now viewed as a boozy shindig with winners selected by a cabal of starstruck journalists, the awards still matter.

In a town when you are only worth as much as your last picture, prizes are a valued currency, even ones that "some confused old journalist wanted to give you to meet you in person and take a selfie", as Gervais said from the podium on Sunday.

Studios especially want prizes and spend millions on campaigns targeting voters. Awards lend a sheen of prestige to studios, which attracts talented directors and actors, and talent attracts audiences.

Some of the applause of the night was heard when Leonardo DiCaprio's name was announced as Best Actor in a drama. Not because he has never won - he earned a Best Actor prize (comedy or musical) in 2014 for his role in The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) - but because the winner in the drama category stands a good chance of winning the Best Actor award at the Academy Awards.

DiCaprio has been nominated five times for an Oscar, and has never won.

The Best Actor Golden Globe-Oscar connection held true for last year's winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything, 2014). And true for actors in 2013 (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, 2012) and 2012 (Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln, 2011), and except for a few gaps, for more years before that.

That link holds true for the Globes' Best Actress (drama) category. Winner Brie Larson (Room, 2015) stands a good chance of picking up a Best Actress Oscar, following in the footsteps of Julianne Moore (Still Alice, 2014), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, 2013), and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, 2010) and several others.

But the connections in the other categories are weaker. The Best Director (motion picture) winner of last night, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant, 2015) won an Oscar last year for Birdman (2014), but whether he will win again for his DiCaprio-starring survival story is uncertain. After all, Richard Linklater won the Best Director prize (Boyhood, 2013) at the Globes last year only to lose to Inarritu.

It is the same for the Best Picture prize at the Globes. Boyhood won it last year, but in a perfect tit-for-tat, was snubbed at the Oscars in favour of Inarritu's Birdman. 12 Years A Slave (2012) and Argo (2011) picked up Best Picture prizes at both shows, but such correlations happen roughly 50 per cent of the time in other years.

The bottom line is that the Golden Globes are not that good an indicator of anything other than Hollywood's ability to enjoy itself, through free alcohol, rubbing shoulders with other A-listers and swag.

Gervais being invited to come back because of his popularity with the audience, despite his acid tongue, proves that Hollywood can handle anything. Except losing viewers.

johnlui@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe