Crazy Heart / Julie and Julia / Avatar
Predicting winners of Sunday's Golden Globe Awards is a harder task than predicting the Oscars that will be handed out March 7. That's because members of the Hollywood-based foreign press who vote on the Globes are trying to do two things at the same time -- vote for films and performances that will make their overseas editors happy (i.e., they'll want to pick films and stars known to them), and make their best guesses as to how the Academy Awards will turn out.

The foreign press, like critics groups and Hollywood guilds, love to boast about their influence on the Academy Awards, so if there are clear Oscar favorites -- say, Mo'Nique as Best Supporting Actress for her role in 'Precious,' or Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for 'Inglourious Basterds' -- the Globes will usually go to those nominees. Mo'Nique has been a little too cavalier in her dismissal of awards, but she appears to be home free, as does Waltz.

Crazy Heart / Julie and Julia / Avatar

Click Here for Golden Globes Predictions 2011


Predicting winners of Sunday's Golden Globe Awards is a harder task than predicting the Oscars that will be handed out March 7. That's because members of the Hollywood-based foreign press who vote on the Globes are trying to do two things at the same time -- vote for films and performances that will make their overseas editors happy (i.e., they'll want to pick films and stars known to them), and make their best guesses as to how the Academy Awards will turn out.

The foreign press, like critics groups and Hollywood guilds, love to boast about their influence on the Academy Awards, so if there are clear Oscar favorites -- say, Mo'Nique as Best Supporting Actress for her role in 'Precious,' or Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for 'Inglourious Basterds' -- the Globes will usually go to those nominees. Mo'Nique has been a little too cavalier in her dismissal of awards, but she appears to be home free, as does Waltz.

Elsewhere, the crystal ball is dense with fog.

When the foreign voters submitted their nominations ballots, it was obvious they thought 'Up in the Air' would be the likely winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture and that the musical 'Nine,' which had not been released yet, would be up for a rash of Oscar nominations. But 'Nine' opened to devastatingly bad reviews and now seems destined for a couple of craft nominations, if any, while 'Up in the Air' has been losing momentum.

At the same time, James Cameron's 'Avatar' has been a juggernaut around the world, and the media that the foreign journalists work for would certainly be happier to see a big night for 'Avatar' than, say, 'The Hurt Locker,' which has dominated the critics awards. 'The Hurt Locker,' named the year's best picture by 12 critic associations (compared to one for 'Avatar'), tells the story of a bomb detection squad in Iraq and, to use a cruel metaphor, it has been a bomb itself at the box office.

Released in late August, 'The Hurt Locker' sold just $12.7 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada and a dismal $3.4 million abroad. Put yourself in the position of a Globe voter (use any accent you like) and ask yourself, "Do I vote for a movie that will soon pass the $1 billion mark in ticket sales overseas, or one that had barely made it to foreign shores?"

Of course, they could eliminate that conundrum by voting for Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds,' which has done very well in both the foreign ($192.1 million) and domestic ($120.5 million) markets. Everybody knows Tarantino and his star Brad Pitt, so a fine compromise candidate it is. Lo, what is a confused and conflicted voter to do?

Here's a category-by-category handicap -- with my picks in order of their likelihood of winning -- for the 67th Golden Globe Awards, which airs Sunday, Jan. 17, at 8PM ET / 5PM PT.

AvatarBest Original Song
The foreign press have had a bad run in this category recently. For the last five years, their Globe-winning songs weren't even nominated for Oscars. The last Globe winner to clutch an Oscar as well was 'Into the West,' the Annie Lennox song from 2003's 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.'

But there is an obvious choice for both groups of voters. The Celine Dion love ballad 'My Heart Will Go On' from James Cameron's 'Titanic' was a slam dunk in 1998, and Cameron's 'Avatar' has a similar ballad sung by English pop star Leona Lewis. 'I See You' isn't as a powerful as 'My Heart Will Go On,' but only because the love story it celebrates isn't as powerful as that in 'Titanic.'

In this decade, the foreign press have given this award to songs by U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Prince and Mick Jagger, so maybe they'll feel Paul McCartney is due his first globe for '(I Want to) Come Home.' It's a good song from an ignored movie ('Everybody's Fine'), but folks abroad would be happy to see Sir Paul on the stage. Still, I'm going with the obvious.

1. 'I See You' by Leona Lewis, from 'Avatar' (Hear it here.)
2. '(I Want to) Come Home' by Paul McCartney, from 'Everybody's Fine' (Hear it.)
3. 'Cinema Italiano by' Kate Hudson, from 'Nine' (Hear it.)
4. 'Winter' by U2, from ' Brothers' (Hear it.)
5. 'The Weary Kind' by Ryan Bingham, from 'Crazy Heart' (Hear it.)

AvatarBest Original Score
My personal favorite is Michael Giacchino's score for the Pixar animated adventure 'Up,' but James Horner's score for 'Avatar' is as stirring as his Oscar and Globe-winning score for 'Titanic,' and he should prevail again.

1. 'Avatar'
2. 'Up'
3. 'Where the Wild Things Are'
4. 'The Informant'
5. 'A Single Man'

Inglourious BasterdsBest Screenplay
The foreign press have handcuffed themselves by only having one category for both original and adapted screenplays. Their five nominees are likely to land on one of the Academy's two ballots, but they risk missing the eventual Oscar winner, as they did in 2002 when Globe screenplay winner 'About Schmidt' failed to receive an Oscar nomination. Only one of the five Globe nominees, 'Up in the Air,' is an adapted script, meaning the much-admired scripts for 'Precious' and 'Invictus' have been left out here. But so has Cameron's original script for 'Avatar.'

The Globes, like the Oscars, usually pair the Best Picture winner with a screenplay award, but since awards front-runner 'Avatar' didn't receive a screenplay nomination, the race comes down to 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Up in the Air' or 'The Hurt Locker.' Even though the foreign press gave the most nominations to 'Up in the Air,' I find it hard to believe they won't show their love here for Quentin Tarantino.

1. 'Inglourious Basterds,' Quentin Tarantino
2. 'The Hurt Locker,' Mark Boal
3. 'Up in the Air,' Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, from the novel by Walter Kim
4. 'District 9,' Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
5. 'It's Complicated,' Nancy Meyers

The MaidBest Foreign Language Film
What's more important to the foreign press, crowning a movie that has already played in most foreign markets and is therefore familiar to their readers? Or, bringing attention to a movie yet to be released widely abroad so they can pique the interest of editors in assigning fresh stories about them? If the former, the favorite has to be Pedro Almodovar's romantic tragedy 'Broken Embraces.' If the latter, perhaps 'Baaria,' the latest sentimental, autobiographical journey of Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore.

It is interesting to note that only twice in the last decade has the Globe winner in this category gone on to win the Oscar. In fact, many of the Globe winners failed even to receive Oscar nominations. So much for the influence of the foreign press on Academy voters. In any case, I think this year's Globe winner will be either 'Broken Embraces' or the Chilean comedy 'The Maid,' directed by Sebatian Silva.

1. 'The Maid'
2. 'Broken Embraces'
3. 'The White Ribbon'
4. 'Baaria'
5. 'Prophet'

UpBest Animated Feature
The five nominees here are standouts from a banner year in animated features, but the one that seems to stand out most is Pixar's CGI-animated 'Up.' It was included among the Producers Guild of America's 10 Best Picture nominees recently and it has largely been conceded a spot on the expanded Best Picture Oscar ballot, as well. I like all five films, but if I were voting, I'd go for Wes Anderson's stop-motion 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' a joy all three times I watched it.

1. 'Up'
2. 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'
3. 'Coraline'
4. 'The Princess and the Frog'
5. 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs'

Christoph WaltzBest Supporting Actor
This is a good ballot, though I would rather have seen Christopher Plummer nominated for his performance in the title role of Terry Gilliam's under-seen 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.' Still, no sense prolonging an analysis: Christoph Waltz is a virtual certainly for his portrayal of a devious Nazi on the hunt for Jews in 'Inglourious Basterds.'

1. Christoph Waltz, 'Inglourious Basterds'
2. Woody Harrelson, 'The Messenger'
3. Matt Damon, 'Invictus'
4. Stanley Tucci, 'The Lovely Bones'
5. Christopher Plummer, 'The Last Station'

Mo'Nique in PreciousBest Supporting Actress
Another no-brainer. Even if 'Up in the Air's' Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick weren't canceling each other out, and even if the reviews hadn't wiped out Penelope Cruz' chances for 'Nine,' this would belong to Mo'Nique, the comedian-turned-monster-mom in 'Precious.'

1. Mo'Nique, 'Precious'
2. Anna Kendrick, 'Up in the Air'
3. Vera Farmiga, 'Up in the Air'
4. Penelope Cruz, 'Nine'
5. Julianne Moore, 'A Single Man'

Meryl Streep in Julie and JuliaBest Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical

The voters have a dilemma here. You know they want to give a Globe to Sandra Bullock, but do they give it to her for 'The Proposal,' in which she gives a standard Bullock comedy performance, or for 'The Blind Side,' which is an international hit? If they do the latter, they have to use the Globe they would very much like to give newcomer Carey Mulligan for 'An Education.'

If Meryl Streep had just one nomination, she'd be the obvious choice. But again, for which movie, 'Julie & Julia' or 'It's Complicated?' Ultimately, I think it would be embarrassing to the foreign press to honor Bullock for the lesser of her two movies, so I'm going here with Streep for the greater of her two.

1. Meryl Streep, 'Julie & Julia'
2. Sandra Bullock, 'The Proposal'
3. Julia Roberts, 'Duplicity'
4. Marion Cotillard, 'Nine'
5. Meryl Streep, 'It's Complicated'

Matt Damon in The InformantBest Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Matt Damon is the only nominee here with a good chance of an Oscar nomination. It always helps when a movie star lards on some weight for verisimilitude, and Damon did that for the title role in 'The Informant.'

1. Matt Damon, 'The Informant'
2. Michael Stuhlbarg, 'A Serious Man'
3. Robert Downey Jr., 'Sherlock Holmes'
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, '(500) Days of Summer'
5. Daniel Day-Lewis, 'Nine'

The HangoverBest Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
'The Hangover' gets my vote for the most overrated comedy of the decade, but I can just see the foreign press doubled over with laughter when the naked Chinese guy jumps out of a car trunk and starts beating the movie's hungover stars with a tire iron.

1. 'The Hangover'
2. 'It's Complicated'
3. 'Julie & Julia'
4. '(500) Days of Summer'
5. 'Nine'

Jeff Bridges in Crazy HeartBest Performance by an Actor, Drama
For a long while, this award seemed to have George Clooney's name pre-inscribed on it. But as 'Up in the Air' began to lose momentum, there came the pushed-up release of 'Crazy Heart,' whose star, Jeff Bridges, now has the spotlight. Long one of the most popular actors of his generation, Bridges has received four Golden Globe and four Oscar nominations for a total of six different movies, and has won none. His performance as an alcoholic country singer drowning in his own pity will end the drought.

1. Jeff Bridges, 'Crazy Heart'
2. George Clooney, 'Up in the Air'
3. Colin Firth, 'A Single Man'
4. Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus'
5. Tobey "What am I doing on this list?" Maguire, 'Brothers'

Sandra Bullock in The Blind SideBest Performance by an Actress, Drama
The best actress on this ballot is Helen Mirren, and as the wife of author Leo Tolstoy in the grand melodrama 'The Last Station,' she grabs the screen and shakes it from the inside out. But this isn't her year for a Globe or an Oscar. This is the year for one of two newcomers -- Carey Mulligan from the British coming-of-age drama 'An Education' or Gabourey Sidibe, a college student whose enormity made her a natural fit for the title role of 'Precious.'

Or, wait, is it the year of Sandra Bullock?

The light comedy actress has convinced many people that she's given a milestone dramatic performance in the inspirational sports movie 'The Blind Side,' and the foreign press are going to have a hard time withholding a Globe from her.

1. Sandra Bullock, 'The Blind Side'
2. Carey Mulligan, 'An Education'
3. Gabourey Sidibe, 'Precious'
4. Helen Mirren, 'The Last Station'
5. Emily Blunt, 'The Young Victoria'

Kathryn BigelowBest Director
The foreign press have the privilege of being the first big awards group to choose between former spouses James Cameron ('Avatar') and Kathryn Bigelow ('The Hurt Locker'). The latter has dominated the voting of critics, and she gives the foreign press a rare opportunity to honor a woman director. They have nominated four women in the past, and one of those -- Barbra Streisand -- won. Unfortunately, it was for 'Yentl.'

Bigelow's 'The Hurt Locker' is the real deal, a great film that stands out precisely for the quality of its direction. She deserves this award more than any of her rivals. Yet, her film was a global flop while her ex's 'Avatar' is raking in record grosses and being hailed by industry mavens as a milestone in filmmaking.

And then there's Quentin Tarantino, whose 'Inglourious Basterds' should have been in contention for Best Comedy or Musical but was either misplaced or misunderstood by the foreign press, and Jason Reitman, whose did a terrific job with a movie that doesn't quite have the right stuff for this season.

1. Kathryn Bigelow, 'The Hurt Locker'
2. James Cameron, 'Avatar'
3. Quentin Tarantino, 'Inglourious Basterds'
4. Jason Reitman, 'Up in the Air'
5. Clint Eastwood, 'Invictus'

AvatarBest Movie, Drama
In the end, I can't believe the foreign press, whose livelihood is dependent on Hollywood's financial fortunes, will vote against the money collector that Cameron has created with 'Avatar.'

1. 'Avatar'
2. 'The Hurt Locker'
3. 'Inglourious Basterds'
4. 'Up in the Air'
5. 'Precious'