Voting on the Golden Globe awards isn’t just about taking finger sandwiches and tea with Nicole Kidman. More than ever, Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. members endure a viewing marathon in November and December that’s likely to leave even the biggest cinephiles needing a breather.
They’re faced with a voting deadline that’s earlier than Oscar’s. And on top of that, members must evaluate TV programming in addition to film.
“It’s a nightmare. Very little sleep,” says Brazil’s Paoula Abou Zaoude. “All I did during Thanksgiving weekend was watch all the TV series.
“There were some really good movies that came out earlier in the year, too, so you want to go back and review them. You have to take it seriously. I’m into music, so I listen to every single cut of the soundtracks,” she explains.
Most members try to see all the major films on the bigscreen, using cassettes and DVDs to catch up with foreign films and independent pics they might have missed during the year.
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Unlike Oscar’s foreign-language film committee, which selects nominations so that rank-and-file Oscar voters only need to choose among five, the HFPA includes about 50 foreign films on its list each year, all of which can be nominated by all voters.
“In the last two months, I’ve been watching two movies a day,” says 17-year HFPA vet Allesandra Venezia. Unlike newer members who have always had the luxury of catching up at home, Venezia remembers when voters were expected to attend as many screenings as possible.
Screeners were introduced around 1990, and before that, “no one was able to see everything,” says Venezia.
But the increasing profile of the Globes broadcast — 27 million viewers watched last year — has led to increasing pressure on voters to see everything.
“I feel an incredible responsibility,” says Venezia. “I think it’s changed — it was more relaxed before.”
Venezia says that during the crunch time she’s sometimes up until 4 a.m., often watching movies twice when she’s undecided.
It’s hard enough for voters to see all the feature films and listen to all the soundtracks, but add in TV series and miniseries and it becomes nearly impossible to watch everything and file stories as well.
“I’m listening to scores when I do my dishes,” says Swiss journalist Marlene von Arx. “It’s important to have TV movies on tape, too.” She watches about two films a day, at least a dozen a week in November and December, von Arx adds.
“It’s pretty punishing,” says Brit Mike Goodridge, who sits on the HFPA foreign-language film committee. “I go to festivals, so fortunately, I see a lot of films there. You really have to see them in a theater, though — if you put on a screener, ultimately you’re not going to be inclined to sit through them all.”
Just as taxing as watching all the screeners is picking up the phone to find a lobbying director or star on the line several times a day.
“The phone keeps ringing, we’re bombarded every day with tapes and soundtracks and little trinkets,” says Portuguese correspondent Rui Coimbra.
Despite the hectic pace, however, any Golden Globes voter you ask will admit that ditch digging, this isn’t.
“You know, after all these years, I’m never bored,” Venezia says.