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Golden Globe Noms Kick Off Oscar Race

Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009 | 10:45 PM ET

The Academy Awards aren't until March but awards season kicked off in earnest early Wednesday with the official announcement of the Golden Globe nominees, ahead of the January 17th event.

Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.
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Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.

The Golden Globes acts as a precursor to the Oscars, giving hints to viewers which films are likely to top the Academy's list - as well as other accolades during the always busy winter awards season.

Plus, the attention gives movie studios a key marketing hook to drive movie attendance for films that haven't yet snagged mainstream attention.

This is the time of year you'll get to see tons of ads bragging about the best various studios have on offer. Here's a full list: http://www.goldenglobes.org

Paramount's "Up in the Air" is exactly the kind of movie that could really cash in on some award attention. It snagged six nominations from the Globes, more than any other film.

Paramount has been taking it's time rolling this film out. So far, it's only been in 72 theaters drawing in $4.2 million dollars in domestic ticket sales in a week and a half.

The film is directed by "Juno"'s Jason Reitman who, in this piece, tackles the issue of unemployment. George Clooney heads the cast.

I quite enjoyed it and think it has the right combination of star power and relevance to break out this holiday season.

The other top nominees range from big-budget blockbusters to dark indie flicks.

James Cameron's "Avatar" from 20th Century Fox snagged four nominations ahead of its debut in theaters this week.

On the other end of the spectrum, "Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire" from Lionsgate bagged three nominations, including best drama, best actress and best supporting actress.

"Precious" has done remarkably well so far -- grossing $38.4 million on a $10 million budget, with a relatively limited release.

"Avatar" is likely to draw in a teenage audience -- more concerned with impressive 3D animation and effects, than anything the Hollywood Foreign Press has to say. But critics are likely to laud over "Precious" giving it ample staying power straight through February.

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The Globes are an interesting early indicator but it's worth remembering where they come from -- the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The tastes of this group of 90 foreign journalists often diverges from the preferences of the thousands of members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Trying to predict Oscar gold based on Golden Globe nominations will bedifferent from years past because this year there will be 10 nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars. This is all part of a strategy to bring in more commercial successes, so movie fans can bet they'll get to see "Avatar" and "Precious," as well as "Up on the Air" on that list.

I think their inclusion in the Academy's Best Picture picks will be less of a surprise than how they perform in the meantime, ticket-wise.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.