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Gearing up for the Globes: The Race to Oscar

The Golden Globes aren't until Sunday night (7pm ET on NBC*), but parties and gifting suites are already underway.

Ricky Gervais
Getty Images
Ricky Gervais

Three years ago the writers strike and economic downturn turned the glitzy event into a press conference and shut down the whirlwind of Globes parties. But now the red carpet is laid out, comedian Ricky Gervais is prepping for his hosting duties, and party planners are readying for more celeb-studded bashes than we saw last year or the prior one.

This year look out for more sponsorships from the likes of W and Marie Claire magazine to offset costs.

Movie execs will closely watch the results which are considered a good indication of Oscar frontrunners. And exposure from a Globes win can boost the box office or drive DVD sales and rentals of slow-burning Indie films in particular. So, who are the main contenders? This year don't look for blockbuster's like Fox's Avatar (NWS) — smaller films are likely to bring home Globes gold. And the smaller the box office the the bigger impact of a win.

Here are my top four picks:

"The King's Speech," which has grossed $53.5 million worldwide on a $15 million budget, is a major contender for both Best Picture (Drama) and Best Actor. This film, which has seven Golden Globe nominations shows the Weinstein brothers making a real comeback.

"The Fighter" from Paramount and Relativity, with six Golden Globe nominations, is the other little film that could. Its budget is estimated at around $25 million and its already generated over $60 million at the U.S. box office. It's only been out since December 10th — this is exactly the kind of film that could keep on performing through the Oscars. Christian Bale is a favorite for Best Supporting Actor.

Sony sees dollar signs in the buzz around "Social Network" — its re-releasing it in about 600 theaters this weekend. It's up for six nominations, including Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director. And it's a shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

"Black Swan," which has four Golden Globe nominations has been a break out hit for Fox — it's grossed $65 million in this U.S and cost just a reported $13 million to produce. Natalie Portman's a frontrunner for Best Actress.

All the glitz and glamour doesn't come without a dark side. A former publicist for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the Globes, sued the organization, claiming it engages in payola for nominations and awards. The lawsuit says Foreign Press Association Members "abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements which amount to a 'payola' scheme." The association's PR firm says the suit, which seeks $2 million and alleges breach of content, is without merit.

The Golden Globes have never been taken as seriously as the Oscars — votes come from the associations 90 journalist members as opposed to the Academy's thousands of actors, directors, and writers who have earned nominations themselves. But Hollywood loves a party and the media loves the red carpet, so this is unlikely to have an impact on ratings.

(*Note: Both CNBC and NBC are owned by General Electric )

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