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The early returns

The votes that matter most (the academy's) aren't in yet, but do previous awards group's winners hold any clues about the eventual Oscar results?

February 11, 2009

As the drama and excitement build over the next week and a half leading up to the 81st annual Academy Awards, Oscar pundits and oddsmakers alike are scrambling for any advantage in making their predictions. One sure place they'll turn for a bit of insight is to the industry and critics groups that have already bestowed their prizes.

But what kind of indicators are these early ceremonies as to how the Oscars will be handed out when the season culminates on Feb. 22 at the Kodak Theatre? Sometimes they help in building momentum -- can Danny Boyle and his "Slumdog Millionaire" really be stopped at this point? -- and sometimes, it's just a matter of a movie or a performance hitting certain people in certain ways.

In many cases, these early awards serve a different purpose. Not only do televised ceremonies bring in significant license fees from major cable and broadcast networks for, say, the Golden Globe Awards, but any correlation that the organization can make to the eventual Oscar winners serves as a way to bring additional viewership, which ultimately leads to higher license fees -- and so on and so on. Call it Hollywood's version of the circle of life.

So, really, it all boils down to conjecture. And that's what makes award season so much fun for insiders and amateurs alike. Here's a look at where some of those early awards have landed. What does it all mean? We don't know, but if you can make the connections, let us know before we put money into the Oscar pool.

-- Christy Grosz

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Actor: Sean Penn, "Milk"

Actress: Meryl Streep, "Doubt"

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

Supporting actress: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

Ensemble: "Slumdog Millionaire"

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Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Golden Globes

Picture (comedy or musical): "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Picture (drama): "Slumdog Millionaire"

Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Actor (drama): Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"

Actor (comedy): Colin Farrell, "In Bruges"

Actress (drama): Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"

Actress (comedy): Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, "Dark Knight"

Supporting actress: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

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Directors Guild of America Awards

Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

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National Board of Review Awards

Picture: "Slumdog Millionaire"

Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Actor: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"

Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"

Supporting actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"

Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Screenplay (adapted): (tie) Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"; Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Screenplay (original): Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"

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Broadcast Film Critics Assn. Critics Choice Awards

Picture: "Slumdog Millionaire"

Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Actor: Sean Penn, "Milk"

Actress: (tie) Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

Supporting actress: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"

--

N.Y. Film Critics Circle Awards

Picture: "Milk"

Director: Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Actor: Sean Penn, "Milk"

Actress: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Supporting actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"

Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Screenplay: Jenny Lumet, "Rachel Getting Married"

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L.A. Film Critics Awards

Picture: "Wall-E"

Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Actor: Sean Penn, "Milk"

Actress: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Elegy"

Screenplay: Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

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