Science-fiction blockbuster Avatar will be aiming to convert box office riches into movie industry accolades as Hollywood's awards season gets underway in earnest at the 67th Golden Globes.
The horrors of the Haiti earthquake are likely to give a sombre tone to proceedings, with many celebrities including best actor nominee George Clooney expected to encourage donations to help the relief effort. Globes organisers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have announced a $100,000 (Dh367,000) donation to musician Wyclef Jean's relief effort.
All eyes are on James Cameron's Avatar to see if its remarkable box office performance – $1.3 billion worldwide since December – translates into awards season honours. The $500m epic is vying for four honours at the Globes, which were due to begin at 4.30am Dubai time today.
As well as best picture, Avatar has nods for best director (Cameron), best original score and best original song. However, the film faces stiff competition from recession-era drama-comedy Up In the Air, which has six nominations, as well as the gripping Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker, with three nominations. Nods for Up In the Air include best actor (Clooney), best director (Jason Reitman) as well as nominations for Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.
In a quirk of fate, The Hurt Locker's director Kathryn Bigelow finds herself nominated for best director alongside ex-husband Cameron. Bigelow scored a pre-Globes boost on Friday when The Hurt Locker was named best picture at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards in Los Angeles. Bigelow also beat Cameron for the best director prize.
Yet while Up In the Air and The Hurt Locker remain critical darlings, awards pundits say the 85 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who pick the Golden Globes may lean towards Avatar.
"Globes voters are foreign journalists who consider it their job to track the hot new thing," said Tom O'Neil, of the Los Angeles Times's theenvelope.com. "And there's nothing hotter right now than Avatar."
However Avatar almost certainly needed to triumph this weekend if it was to emerge as an awards season favourite for the coveted best picture prize at the Academy Awards, which will be handed out in Hollywood on March 7.
The Globes are often viewed as a key barometer of which films may go on to challenge for honours at the Oscars. Although 67.4 per cent of films which won best picture at the Academy Awards also won a Golden Globe, in recent years the awards have proved an unreliable guide for likely Oscar winners.
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