Funny ladies ... Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host this year's Golden Globe Awards. Photo: Getty Images
ON SUNDAY, January 12 (Monday morning our time), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will present the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards, an event defined largely in terms of other awards shows, as much as any real individual identity.
The Golden Globes are the second most-famous awards for films in Hollywood behind the Academy Awards, and the second most-publicised gongs in American television behind the Emmys. As such, the conversation following the presentation will be as much about what the results indicate about likely Oscars voting as it is dedicated to reflecting on the achievements of the winners. All of which serves to elevate these awards, voted on by 90-odd journalists living in south California who write for publications outside the US, to a lofty status.
Which is not to say the Globes do not have their own idiosyncrasies. They look back on the year in television and film but, first awarded in the era of the big studio musical, the Globes divide their big three film awards into two categories - drama and musical or comedy, just like the television awards. This is a boon for historically underacknowledged cinematic comedies but a hazard for those using the Globes as an awards-season indicator. There is also the annual Miss or Mr Golden Globes, a pageant-like title given to the daughter or son of a celebrity who helps out backstage on the night. It's a tradition that has not helped dampen the belief held by some that the awards are too much about the association members' desire to be chummy with the stars.
Winners ... Claire Danes and Damian Lewis at last year's Emmy Awards. Photo: Getty Images
Not that it has been all empty praise recently. After three years of somewhat controversial hosting in which he threw barbs at many a star, British comedian Ricky Gervais steps aside this year.
While there may have been a queue of comedians and actors seeking to fill his shoes, if only to partake in a round or two of vengeful Ricky-roasting, the organisers have changed style, appointing comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to co-host the ceremony. The two friends have worked together extensively since their time on Saturday Night Live and expectations will be high that they will deliver a laugh-filled evening.
Here's a video of them prepping for the ceremony.
Still, it's all, mostly, about the awards. So, who will win?
The hot favourites
A few of the awards already have names heavily pencilled if not engraved upon them.
In the television awards, Homeland is a good shout for the drama trifecta, with the show and its stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis all good bets. Equally, in the mini-series or telemovie categories, Game Change, the telemovie about Sarah Palin's ill-fated US vice-presidential bid is a strong contender, as is Julianne Moore for the actress nod. Louis C.K. is the name most likely to be read out as best actor in a comedy or musical. Britain should also pull off a mini-series double act with Benedict Cumberbatch and Maggie Smith safe bets, while Ed Harris is a certainty to take home the supporting-actor award for his turn as John McCain in Game Change.
There are a few film categories with clear leaders. Daniel Day-Lewis is very to convert his seventh best actor nomination into his second win, having taken the statuette in 2007. Jennifer Lawrence is also a probable victor for best actress in a comedy or musical for Silver Linings Playbook, where she will nudge out
Meryl Streep, who is the record holder with eight Golden Globe wins and the dominant force in nominations with a record 27.
The tight races
The television categories have produced most of the tight fields this year, particularly with the best actress in a television comedy or musical. All five nominees were nominated for the Emmy won by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, yet with two of the nominees hosting and a lot of industry love for Lena Dunham in Girls, this could go any way.
The best television comedy or musical category will also be close, with Girls providing stiff competition to carry-over champion Modern Family.
The best director and best screenplay are the tightest film awards, with the latter near unpredictable, though likely to come down to the historical patriotism of Lincoln over the acclaim for Ben Affleck's work on Argo. The same fight will carry over to the director gongs, where Steven Spielberg may just hold out Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, but in a field where Ang Lee is the closest thing to an outsider, it is anyone's race.
The two major awards on the night will be polar opposites in terms of expectation. The Les Miserables camp will be hoping for a big Oscars boost coming out of its almost certain victory in the best comedy or musical category, where Silver Linings Playbook is the only significant competition.
The best drama award comes down to the other three favourites for the Oscar, with any of Argo, Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln potential winners. If Lincoln takes it, the film will cement itself as outright Oscar favourite, but Bigelow's Osama bin Laden-hunting thriller might just nick it, leaving the race to the Oscars wide open.
There are four Australians nominated across five different awards, with Nicole Kidman preparing speeches for two categories. The best bet is Hugh Jackman, who is the favourite to win for best actor in a comedy or musical for his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Jackman also has an interest in the best song category, where his performance in the film of the newly written Suddenly has been nominated, yet it is the writers who take home this award. Keith Urban has been nominated for his song For You from the movie Act of Valor. Naomi Watts is also thought to have a chance for best actress in a drama, but she is up against Jessica Chastain, who is very likely to take the award for Zero Dark Thirty. Which leaves Kidman's two nominations, neither of which are looking particularly strong. In the best supporting-actress category, where the genres aren't split, she faces strong competition and is considered the outsider, with Anne Hathaway the favourite for Les Miserables. Kidman's chances are better in the best actress in a mini-series or movie-made-for-television category, but this is likely to come down to either Julianne Moore for Game Change or Jessica Lange for American Horror Story: Asylum.
The nominations (Giles Hardie's predictions in bold)
BEST PICTURE: DRAMA
Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty
BEST PICTURE: COMEDY OR MUSICAL
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Silver Linings Playbook
Ben Affleck, Argo; Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Ang Lee, Life of Pi; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
BEST ACTOR: DRAMA
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; Richard Gere, Arbitrage; John Hawkes, The Sessions; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight
BEST ACTRESS: DRAMA
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone; Helen Mirren, Hitchcock; Naomi Watts, The Impossible; Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
BEST ACTRESS: COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Maggie Smith, Quartet; Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
BEST ACTOR: COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Jack Black, Bernie; Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables; Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Master; Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin, Argo; Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained; Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Amour, A Royal Affair, The Intouchables, Kon-Tiki, Rust and Bone
Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Anna Karenina, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, Lincoln
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Brave, Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
For You, Keith Urban; Not Running Anymore, Jon Bon Jovi; Safe and Sound, Taylor Swift; Skyfall, Adele; Suddenly, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil
BEST TELEVISION SERIES (DRAMA)
Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey season two, Homeland, The Newsroom
BEST ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES (DRAMA)
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Damian Lewis, Homeland
BEST ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES (DRAMA)
Connie Britton, Nashville; Glenn Close, Damages; Claire Danes, Homeland; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey season two; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
BEST TELEVISION SERIES (COMEDY OR MUSICAL)
The Big Bang Theory, Episodes, Girls, Modern Family, Smash
BEST ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES (COMEDY OR MUSICAL)
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Lena Dunham, Girls; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Amy Poehler, Parks And Recreation
BEST ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES (COMEDY OR MUSICAL)
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Louis C.K., Louie; Matt LeBlanc, Episodes; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Game Change, The Girl, Hatfields & McCoys, The Hour, Political Animals
BEST ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gellhorn; Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum; Sienna Miller, The Girl; Julianne Moore, Game Change; Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals
BEST ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys; Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock; Woody Harrelson, Game Change; Toby Jones, The Girl; Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville; Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife; Sarah Paulson, Game Change; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey season two; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Max Greenfield, New Girl; Ed Harris, Game Change; Danny Huston, Magic City; Mandy Patinkin, Homeland; Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family