Just how seriously does Hollywood take the Golden Globes? Ask us again on Oscar night

Maybe the Golden Globes are from Venus. At the Jan. 19 ceremony, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave its top awards to the alien-obsessed X-Files and 3rd Rock From the Sun. And the movie awards were really otherworldly — after all, what can you say about a night when Madonna beats out Frances McDormand for best actress (in a comedy or musical)? Traditionally, the Globes point the way toward the bigger planetary prize, the Oscars. But what are we to make of the spacey signals sent this year?

For one thing, with Madonna’s surprising win and Evita picking up three awards, the Oscar spotlight has shifted — for now at least — off of The People vs. Larry Flynt‘s Courtney Love (who lost out in the Best Actress in a Drama category) and onto the Material Girl. Terry Curtin, a spokeswoman for Buena Vista, Evita‘s studio, believes the Globe victories ”level the playing field.” But the studio behind Flynt, Sony’s TriStar, isn’t backing down, nor will it switch gears. Says Sony spokesman Ed Russell: ”There will be no changes in the studio’s campaign. We will continue to promote Love for Best Actress.”

The other clear message is that when it comes to the Best Picture race, nothing is clear. ”It’s very wide open this year,” admits Evita director Alan Parker. Although pre-Globe favorite The English Patient did win the Best Drama race, wins by Secrets & Lies‘ Brenda Blethyn and Shine‘s Geoffrey Rush drew much-needed public attention to those art-house films. And although Fargo was shut out, a crowd-pleasing clip was one of the evening’s highlights, and an informal poll of the celebs in attendance showed everyone from Jane Seymour to James Woods in support of the quirky comedy. (Remember: Journalists decide the Globes, while Hollywood votes for the Oscars.) ”I was rooting for Fargo,” admits Holly Hunter.

The truth, of course, will be out Feb. 11, when the Academy narrows the field. And maybe the Oscars won’t seem like they’re from Mars.