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10 reasons the Globes top the Oscars

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
Ricky Gervais is definitely one of the reasons the Golden Globes tops the Oscars.
Ricky Gervais is definitely one of the reasons the Golden Globes tops the Oscars.
  • The Golden Globes are like the freewheeling, fun version of the Oscars
  • Every year, there's scandal, great food and lots of free booze to fuel loose lips
  • To add to the usual festivities, Ricky Gervais is hosting
  • The awards show will be a ratings coup for an ailing NBC

(CNN) -- The Golden Globes are essentially the opening act of the awards show season -- it's safe to bet those taking home Globes could hit it big at the Oscars. But that's not at all why you should watch it.

Unlike the much more uptight Academy Awards, the Globes are the funnier, cooler party where everyone would rather be. Here are 10 reasons why -- even though you might care more about who wins an Oscar -- you should never miss the Globes.

10. You can watch celerities chow down

They've dieted for months to fit into their designer dresses, and chef Suki Sugiura, at the Beverly Hilton hotel, is making sure no one pops a seam with a light, locally grown menu.

Attendees will feast on an arugula-radish salad with herb-crusted mozzarella and eggplant, California short ribs, Pacific sea bass and a white chocolate envelope alongside a chocolate sponge cake with Cointreau and mandarin oranges.

9. Kanye West will not be there

... but many of the rest of the presenters from the MTV Video Music Awards will be. More casual than the Oscars, this year's show is filling the red carpet with the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, Gerard Butler and the cast of "The Hangover."

Golden Globes
Sunday, January 17, 8 p.m. ET NBC

8. The underground society of Golden Globes voters

Critics of the Globes have always looked askance at its voters, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an international cadre of film-loving (critics would say "celebrity-loving") journalists. The organization has been so controversial that a 2004 documentary tried to uncover "Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret."

The comparatively small group of voters -- often less than a hundred, in comparison with the more than 6,000 members of the Academy who vote on the Oscars -- has been accused of sticking around for the parties thrown and being too easily wooed by Hollywood's power players.

But that that kind of questionable undercurrent is precisely what makes the Globes so much fun.

7. Two words: Ricky Gervais

The Globes have decided that they need a ringmaster for their circus, and there are few actors more qualified than Ricky Gervais. The last time the Globes used a master of ceremonies, in 1995, they had to use two: John Larroquette and Janine Turner. Let's hope Gervais will have better luck.

"The Office" creator and film star has promised to bring the emcee job back with a bang, including plenty of "gentle ribbing," particularly of people "younger and richer and thinner and more attractive than he is."

6. You will invariably use OMG and WTF throughout the whole thing

What would the Globes be without a questionable moment or three? The 2006 red carpet featured a frisky Isaac Mizrahi, who happily went in for a grope while interviewing Scarlett Johansson; in 2009, there was a hilariously rude speech by Sacha Baron Cohen when he presented the best comedy award; and then there was Jack Nicholson's 2003 acceptance speech, when he acknowledged that he'd popped a Valium.

5. Blame it on the alcohol

The Globes would not be the Globes if the nominees weren't loose enough to potentially shirk their handler's instructions and drop an F-bomb or two during an acceptance speech. The best way to get them to that point where great television is made is to play like a speed dating mixer and provide an open bar.

Ricky Gervais took to the stage last year as a presenter with a beer in hand, quipping, "I can't believe I'm not nominated. What a waste of a campaign. That's the last time I have sex with 200 middle-aged journalists."

And that's how you seal a hosting gig for the next one, kids.

4. The season's first chance for a real fashion faux pas

The red carpet at the Golden Globes can set the tone for the season in the same way winning a Globe is a pseudo-predictor for the Oscar race. The red carpet is brutal, and many still haven't lived down their flubs. (Drew Barrymore, green dress, and the lack of a bra come to mind).

On the other hand, if you get it right, you tend to rock your way through awards season. Last year, Kate Winslet wore an amazing gown to the Globes, nabbed two of them for best actress in a supporting role ("The Reader") and best actress in a drama ("Revolutionary Road"), and then went on to land a spot on People's 2009 best-dressed list. There's a trend here, people -- first the gown, then the awards.

3. The cast of 'Glee'

So they probably won't be invited to the Oscars, but you can see Mercedes, Coach Sue, Quinn and Finn make their red-carpet debut on Sunday night. With four nominations, someone from "Glee" is bound to win something, and one can only hope the acceptance speech will be done in song.

2. You don't have to sit through an acceptance speech for best short film (live action)

The thing about watching the Academy Awards is that it drags...and drags...and drags to its final conclusion, when all you really wanted to see was who takes best picture.

With the Globes, while you may take a bathroom break during the best original score category, by and large, the show keeps boring categories to a minimum.

1. The inevitable Leno/Conan cracks

Whatever critics may say about the Globes, their popularity is practically iron-clad with the public, unlike the Academy Awards. For a hurting NBC, this night of ravishing ratings attention comes at just the right time. However, be forewarned: there undoubtedly be a bunch of Leno vs. Conan barbs thrown around all night.