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Golden Globes 2014: Five things to watch for tonight

The bar opens at the Beverly Hilton at 2:30 p.m. PST for those attending tonight's Golden Globes ceremony. This will be followed by a champagne dinner at 3:30 p.m. with free-flowing wine at the guest tables. And, yes, the bar will remain open throughout the evening.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s answer to Prohibition leads to the occasional absence of inhibition during the night, which, let's be honest, is why most of us watch the Golden Globes. What do you remember from last year: what movie won best picture comedy/musical or Jodie Foster's magnificently weird proclamation that she is decidedly "not Honey Boo Boo Child" and telling everyone that she was not coming out and then proceeding to do just that. (We think. We're still not sure.)

Anyway, yes, they do give out awards too, "Globes" we believe they're called, and the winners will enjoy a moment in the spotlight and a chance to remind their peers why they should maybe just win an Oscar as well.

FULL COVERAGE: Golden Globe Awards 2014

Here are five races to watch:

Lead actor drama: The Screen Actors Guild and the British Film and Television Academy didn't nominate Robert Redford and, who knows, the academy might not either on Thursday. So this could be the one place to see Redford, who would be a deserving winner for his magnificent solo turn in the high seas adventure-thriller "All Is Lost." His main rival: "12 Years a Slave's" Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Best picture drama: This year, if Globes voters follow their penchant for spectacle ("Avatar" instead of "The Hurt Locker") and go with "Gravity" over "12 Years a Slave" for best picture drama, it could be a small signifier, particularly if "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuarón wins as well. That scenario would raise the stakes for the Producers Guild of America honors next Sunday. Should "Gravity" win there too, you'd see Oscar pundits pulling out their erasers and moving Cuarón's visually stunning outer space survival story to the top of their lists, particularly because 17 of the last 24 PGA winners have gone on to win the academy's best picture, including the past six in a row.

Best picture comedy/musical: This category has long been filled out by runts of the awards-season litter, subpar movies such as "The Tourist," "Burlesque," "Red" and "Alice in Wonderland" whose HFPA junkets, one suspected, must have compensated for the shortcomings seen on screen. This year, though, the HFPA nominated a number of hybrid comedies, including "Her," "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Nebraska," sardonic films that tackled such weighty subjects as aging, human connection and the suffering of the artist.

MORE: Golden Globes play-at-home ballot

But the winner will probably be David O. Russell's fizzy con artist romp "American Hustle," which will position the movie nicely in the best picture Oscar race. Russell is a threat to win director too.

Lead actor comedy/musical: Like Redford, it's possible Leonardo DiCaprio won't receive an Oscar nomination for his howling hedonist in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." But we wouldn't be surprised if he won here. The HFPA loves DiCaprio, giving him nine nominations over the years. "Nebraska's" Bruce Dern could offer an upset.

Lead actress comedy/musical: "Hustle's" Amy Adams is another potential Globe winner who could be overlooked by the academy. We like her chances in this category where her primary challenger, Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County") has won plenty of times (eight!) and usually for better work.

The 71st annual Golden Globes will air tonight on NBC beginning at 5 p.m. PST.

ALSO:

Predictions in top Golden Globes categories

Palm Springs Film Festival: Pride (in the name of awards)

Analysis: Producers Guild Awards provide added clarity to Oscar race

Follow @GlennWhipp

glenn.whipp@latimes.com

MORE GOLDEN GLOBES COVERAGE

PHOTOS: 2014 Globes red carpet

LIST: Complete list of nominees

PHOTOS: Show highlights

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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