Awards pundits parse the Golden Globes for its Oscar meaning, gauging snubs and momentum with studious intensity. The rest of us mainly want to see a good show, or at least a speech in which Jodie Foster fake-retires.
What's likely to give us that water-cooler buzz when NBC broadcasts the Hollywood Foreign Assn.'s annual fete Sunday night? Here are six strong candidates.
Woody watch. It's rare any awards body, even the sometimes-wacky HFPA, gives a lifetime achievement honor to a person who won't turn up to accept it. But it will do just that with Woody Allen, who disdains awards shows and will likely be playing the clarinet somewhere instead of making his way to the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night. Longtime collaborator and former GF Diane Keaton will accept on Allen's behalf. How much Allen will we see, either recorded or live-by-satellite? Will Keaton play up his absence? And how will his absence play in the room?
Wolfing down. "The Wolf of Wall Street" has been an awards-season enigma. For months it was unclear if the movie would even come out this year. And then when it did, it polarized. With a handful of big nominations, from picture to actor, how much "Wolf" will we see, and how will it play for a TV audience that has had ambivalent feelings about its message?
Rule of JLaw. Jennifer Lawrence has been the awards ingenue since she landed on the red-carpet circuit with "Winter's Bone" three years ago. And she had the trip seen 'round the world at last year's Oscars. How will the actress' return to the season, as a supporting actress from "American Hustle," play. Will she win? And what hiccup -- like, literally a hiccup -- awaits if she does? We'll find out early -- Lawrence's category of supporting actress is first up in the the telecast.
Seeing double. It's not just hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler who will be be twinning up this year. Several nominees are in the rare position of being shortlisted in multiple categories. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a strong contender for TV actress comedy for her antics on "Veep," in addition to being in the running for lead actress-comedy/musical turn in "Enough Said." Chiwetel Ejiofor has a good shot of picking up the Globe for lead actor drama for his "12 Years a Slave" role, but he's also nominated for his BBC TV drama "Dancing on the Edge." It could be a night of return trips and multiple cutaways.
Cold blue? "Blue Is the Warmest Color" is a near sure-thing to win best foreign film Sunday. Less predictable? The behavior of its principals, actors Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux and director Abdellatif Kechiche No feud has been as bizarre as that between this movie's filmmaker and stars, who have let their private frustrations over the intense shoot spill over publicly. Who comes to the podium when it wins, who gets shouted out to and who sneaks in the pointed dig?
The Globes wild card. Every year it's, well, something. Christine Lahti locking herself in the bathroom. Ricky Gervais making the HFPA jokes (and Robert Downey Jr. calling out the "sinister" vibe the host cast over the proceedings). President Clinton turning up to honor pal Steven Spielberg. The unpredictability of the awards may frustrate consultants, but the unpredictability of the show keeps us watching. How will the Globes top itself? An astronaut to introduce "Gravity"? The cast of "American Hustle" staying in character? Nominee Taylor Swift revealing that she actually kind of likes some of her exes? Anything can -- and often does -- happen when the Hilton ballroom doors close.
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