The Descendants

In this image released by Fox Searchlight Films, George Clooney, left, and Shailene Woodley are shown in a scene from "The Descendants."

Fox Searchlight Films

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has just announced the nominations for the Golden Globe Awards, and you're reading this article, even though you don't care what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks, and I don't either.

I'd venture to say that no one, including the nominees, cares. But they do care about the Oscars, and the Globe nominations will have a significant bearing on who gets Oscar nods and who wins the top awards in February.

Why? Because no Oscar voter wants to watch 50 or 60 DVDs just to fill out a ballot. Instead, they will note which movies are nominated for a Golden Globe and make sure to watch those, because those are the movies their friends will be asking about. Yes, this means they may even have to dig "The Ides of March" out of the trash, because that entry got four nominations.

Now you may remember that the Globes divide their top categories into "comedy or musical" and drama, and usually the drama category has the better movies. Not this year. While "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo" "The Ides of March," "Moneyball" and "War Horse" constitute a not-bad dramatic field, look at the comedy-or-musical category: "50/50," "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "Midnight in Paris" and "My Week With Marilyn."

Actually, the classification of "The Artist" as a comedy is a pity. It's a drama and might have won as a drama, leaving the comedy category to any one of those other worthy candidates. On the plus side, this makes Jean Dujardin a shoo-in to win as the best actor in a comedy or musical, giving him a chance to be appealing and gracious in his acceptance speech and make people think what fun it would be to give him an Oscar.

Dujardin's real Oscar competition is over in the drama category: Leonardo DiCaprio ("J. Edgar"), Michael Fassbender ("Shame"), Brad Pitt ("Moneyball"), George Clooney ("The Descendants") and Ryan Gosling ("The Ides of March"). Clooney is probably the winner there (they seem to love him this year). And if you add in Dujardin and toss out Gosling, those are probably the Oscar contenders.

For the best actress in a drama, the foreign press nominated Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"), Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs"), Viola Davis ("The Help"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"). That's a strong category, with Mara the only long shot (though worthy).

But the category for best actress in a comedy or musical also contains strong candidates: Michelle Williams ("My Week With Marilyn") is a certain Oscar contender, and Charlize Theron ("Young Adult") has a decent chance, as well. (Kristen Wiig deserves an Oscar nod for "Bridesmaids," but don't hold your breath.) Williams should win the Golden Globe. If she doesn't, that could take some of the heat away from her candidacy.

Best director is where you get to see which movies the foreign press really loves: Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"). The choice of Clooney is downright eccentric, because his direction is actually what's wrong with "The Ides of March," and "The Descendants" is one of Payne's weaker films. But maybe all this means is that the way is clear for "The Artist," which has six Globe nominations.

This might also mean that "The Artist" will be the first silent movie to win the Academy Award since "Wings" at the first ceremony in 1929. Let's hope so.

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