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Why the Golden Globes movie races will be scrutinized this year

Why the Golden Globes movie races will be scrutinized this year
Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins in "The Shape of Water." (Kerry Hayes / Fox Searchlight Pictures)

This year's Oscar best picture free-for-all will put more attention on the movies the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. rewards at the Golden Globes on Jan. 7. "Lady Bird" stands as a heavy favorite on the comedy side, but the drama race is up for grabs.

Who will win? Here's a first stab at predictions.

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MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA

The nominees: "Call Me by Your Name," "Dunkirk," "The Post," "The Shape of Water," "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

And the winner is: "The Shape of Water" picked up a leading seven nominations; "The Post" and "Three Billboards" earned six each. You could make a case for any one of this trio winning, so I'll simply go with "Shape" since it has the numbers ever so slightly on its side. A safer bet: I'll probably change my mind at least twice before the ceremony.

Unless: "The Post," the more obvious topical movie, prevails. Or "Three Billboards" for capturing cultural rage. Who knows? This is the group that nominated "All the Money in the World."

Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in "Three Billboards."
Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in "Three Billboards." (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

LEAD ACTRESS, MOTION PICTURE DRAMA

The nominees: Jessica Chastain, "Molly's Game"; Sally Hawkins, "The Shape of Water"; Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"; Meryl Streep, "The Post"; Michelle Williams, "All the Money in the World"

And the winner is: McDormand has been nominated six times but never won — not even for "Fargo" or "Olive Kitteridge." You'd think she's overdue. But she also doesn't schmooze with voters, which the selfie-loving HFPA might take personally.

Unless: Voters really, really love "Shape of Water" and reward the gifted Hawkins.

Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour."
Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour." (Focus Features)

LEAD ACTOR, MOTION PICTURE DRAMA

The nominees: Timothee Chalamet, "Call Me by Your Name"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Phantom Thread"; Tom Hanks, "The Post"; Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour"; Denzel Washington, "Roman J. Israel, Esq."

And the winner is: With "Darkest Hour" failing to catch on outside its lead performance, Oldman's march to the Oscar isn't quite as inevitable as it seemed a month ago. But it still feels like one of the evening's safest bets.

Unless: Young Chalamet shocks the world.

The cast of "Lady Bird" give some love to the film's writer-director Greta Gerwig.
The cast of "Lady Bird" give some love to the film's writer-director Greta Gerwig. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

MOTION PICTURE, MUSICAL/COMEDY

The nominees: "The Disaster Artist," "Get Out," "The Greatest Showman," "I, Tonya," "Lady Bird"

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And the winner is: "Lady Bird" feels like the movie of the moment, a mother-daughter story, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, that, in its own quiet way, celebrates confident women.

Unless: That other movie of the moment, "Get Out," pulls off an upset. The absence of a screenplay nod for its creator, Jordan Peele, suggests that this might be a long shot.

Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird."
Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird." (A24 Films)

LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY/MUSICAL

The nominees: Judi Dench, "Victoria & Abdul"; Helen Mirren, "The Leisure Seeker"; Margot Robbie, "I, Tonya"; Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird"; Emma Stone, "Battle of the Sexes"

And the winner is: Ronan. It's possible "Lady Bird" wins all four of its categories — picture, lead and supporting actress and screenplay.

Unless: Hard to see another scenario playing out. Ronan is the evening's biggest lock on the film side.

James Franco in "The Disaster Artist."
James Franco in "The Disaster Artist." (A24 Films)

LEAD ACTOR COMEDY/MUSICAL

The nominees: Steve Carell, "Battle of the Sexes"; Ansel Elgort, "Baby Driver"; James Franco, "The Disaster Artist"; Hugh Jackman, "The Greatest Showman"; Daniel Kaluuya, "Get Out"

And the winner is: As an ode to outsiders, Franco's film and performance should resonate with this group.

Unless: The HFPA wants to find a spot to reward "Get Out," and tips its hat to Kaluuya's superb work here.

Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" is the favorite for the drama series Globe.
Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" is the favorite for the drama series Globe. (George Kraychyk / Hulu)

TV DRAMA SERIES

The nominees: "The Crown," "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," "Stranger Things," "This Is Us"

And the winner is: "The Handmaid's Tale." Blessed be the fruit.

Unless: Common sense is cast aside. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale."
Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale." (George Kraychyk / Hulu)

LEAD ACTRESS IN A TV DRAMA SERIES

The nominees: Caitriona Balfe, "Outlander"; Claire Foy, "The Crown"; Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Deuce"; Katherine Langford, "13 Reasons Why"; Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"

And the winner is: Moss repeats her Emmy triumph for her urgent, intense and always unpredictable work on "Handmaid's Tale."

Unless: The HFPA loves going in a different direction in this category. Maybe Langford's heartbreaking turn on "13 Reasons Why" will linger in their minds.

Freddie Highmore in "The Good Doctor."
Freddie Highmore in "The Good Doctor." (Jack Rowand / ABC)

LEAD ACTOR IN A TV DRAMA

The nominees: Jason Bateman, "Ozark"; Sterling K. Brown, "This Is Us"; Freddie Highmore, "The Good Doctor"; Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"; Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"

And the winner is: Voters veer here between veterans in established roles (it took a long time for Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston to finally prevail) and actors in first-year shows. Highmore never got his due for "Bates Motel," and it feels like the time is ripe for recognition. Plus, who doesn't like "The Good Doctor"?

Unless: It's Emmy-winner Brown, who the HFPA strangely overlooked last year, not even giving him a nomination.

Rachel Brosnahan in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
Rachel Brosnahan in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." (Amazon Prime)

TV COMEDY SERIES

The nominees: "black-ish," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Master of None," "SMILF," "Will & Grace"

And the winner is: If you're an Amazon Prime member, you might want to spend the holidays catching up with "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" so you can be in the know.

Unless: The year's other lauded newcomer, "SMILF," prevails for its unapologetic, empathetic story about a single mom.

Rachel Brosnahan photographed at the Up & Up in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Rachel Brosnahan photographed at the Up & Up in New York’s Greenwich Village. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

LEAD ACTRESS IN A TV COMEDY SERIES

The nominees: Pamela Adlon, "Better Things"; Alison Brie, "GLOW"; Rachel Brosnahan, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"; Issa Rae, "Insecure"; Frankie Shaw, "SMILF"

And the winner is: Brosnahan never did comedy before "Mrs. Maisel," but you'd never know it from her charismatic, expressive turn as the title character. She'll likely have a Globe six weeks after her show's premiere.

Unless: Shaw created, wrote and directed "SMILF" and her acting — dialed-down, yet still dynamic — is a big reason for its success.

Sean Hayes, left, and Eric McCormack in "Will & Grace."
Sean Hayes, left, and Eric McCormack in "Will & Grace." (Paul Drinkwater / NBC)

LEAD ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY

The nominees: Anthony Anderson, "black-ish"; Aziz Ansari, "Master of None"; Kevin Bacon, "I Love Dick"; William H. Macy, "Shameless"; Eric McCormack, "Will & Grace"

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And the winner is: Globes voters nominated McCormack five times during "Will & Grace's" original run, but never gave him the prize. In the absence of a clear front-runner, let's say he finally prevails.

Unless: Anderson, another perennial runner-up, finally wins on his third nomination.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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