CATEGORIES Movies
Could it be that the Golden Globes actually have better taste than the Oscars? After all, Globe voters this year found room for critically lauded performances by Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone"), Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea"), John Hawkes ("The Sessions") and Richard Gere ("Arbitrage") that the Academy voters overlooked. And the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the group that picks the Globes) had the sense to nominate Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") and credit the Globes' unique practice of expanding the field by breaking out a separate Comedy/Musical category, as well as the idiosyncratic makeup of the HFPA (a small group of about 100 entertainment journalists, contrasted with the Academy's 6,000 or so movie-industry professionals).

The result, however, is a slate that -- this year, at least -- matches up only roughly with the Oscar nominees list, making the predictive value of the Globes more dubious than usual. And vice versa; you can't predict the Globes by guessing how the Academy would vote.

Still, judging by what the HFPA voters like -- movies and performers with international appeal, classical Hollywood filmmaking, and familiar faces who'll brighten their televised cocktail party -- it's not hard to guess which stars and movies will win when the trophies are handed out on Jan. 13. Here's a cheat sheet for your home ballot.

BEST MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA "Argo" "Django Unchained" "Life of Pi" "Lincoln" "Zero Dark Thirty"

In the night's most important race (since it's the most predictive of Oscar's Best Picture category), where the Academy gave us a wide-open race among nine worthy contenders, the HFPA gives us essentially a two-horse competition between "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty"; the rest will be also-rans. "Lincoln" has the edge as a piece of classical filmmaking from Hollywood's biggest brand-name director, but "Zero Dark Thirty" seems to have most of the awards momentum this season and is likely to squeak past.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone") Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock") Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea")

Just because I praised the Globe voters above for recognizing several of these performances that Academy members passed over doesn't mean I don't think that in the end, the HFPA will still go for Chastain, the hot rising star of the past couple years. For the rest, it's just an honor to be nominated, though out of all of these, Cotillard or Watts could manage an upset for playing women in umimaginably extreme circumstances.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") Richard Gere ("Arbitrage") John Hawkes ("The Sessions") Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master") Denzel Washington ("Flight")

As with the actresses, Gere and Hawkes should be grateful just to have been invited. As much I'd love to see Phoenix win just to here what kind of gonzo acceptance speech the awards-averse actor would give, this race belongs to Day-Lewis, end of story. BEST MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" "Les Miserables" "Moonrise Kingdom" "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" "Silver Linings Playbook"

"Marigold" and "Yemen" are the kind of multinational comedies with older-audience appeal that hit the HFPA's demographic sweet spot, and "Playbook" has buzz, but the smash "Les Mis" will take the category.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - 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")

Nominations for Dench, Smith, and Streep are reflex actions. Nothing wrong with their performances or Blunt's, but Katniss Everdeen (who happens to be the only person in this category who also got an Oscar nod) is going to hit the bullseye on this target.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - 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")

It's great that the HFPA are recognizing the Oscar-snubbed performances of Black, McGregor and Murray, but the race is between Cooper and Jackman. Cooper's terrific in "Playbook," but Jackman's titanic Jean Valjean in "Les Miz" is going to carry this one.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM "Brave" "Frankenweenie" "Hotel Transylvania" "Rise of the Guardians" "Wreck-It Ralph"

There may be some late-breaking love for "Frankenweenie" and "Ralph," but when in doubt, bet on Pixar. So, "Brave" it is.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM "Amour" "A Royal Affair" "The Intouchables" "Kon-Tiki" "Rust and Bone"

"Intouchables" was a huge hit in pretty much every country represented by the HFPA, but awards-season momentum is with the old-timers of "Amour," which also has the senior appeal that Globe voters love.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE Amy Adams ("The Master") Sally Field ("Lincoln") Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables") Helen Hunt ("The Sessions") Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy")

Buzz for "Lincoln" could mean an upset by Field, whose return to awards-season glory nearly 30 years after her "You really like me" Oscar moment would make a lovely narrative. But this prize belongs to the heart-rending Hathaway of "Les Mis."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE Alan Arkin ("Argo") Leonardo DiCaprio ("Django Unchained") Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master") Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln") Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained")

This may be the toughest Globe race to call. DiCaprio tends to be ignored at awards time, and Globe voters might enjoy remedying that, though he and co-star Waltz could cancel each other out. Arkin's role is pretty small and Hoffman's is pretty challenging to watch. That leaves Jones, who will be riding a wave of "Lincoln" momentum. Not even his character's hideous wig is likely to stand in his way.

BEST DIRECTOR - MOTION PICTURE Ben Affleck ("Argo") Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") Ang Lee ("Life of Pi") Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained")

It's really between Spielberg and Bigelow. As much as the HFPA values Spielberg's old-school mastery, they'll likely ride the wave of "Zero Dark Thirty"'s urgency and reward Bigelow.

BEST SCREENPLAY - MOTION PICTURE Mark Boal ("Zero Dark Thirty") Tony Kushner ("Lincoln") David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook") Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained") Chris Terrio ("Argo")

Again, it's a battle between "ZDT" and "Lincoln." Kushner has an edge with his Broadway pedigree, but Boal's reportorial zeal will likely win the day.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - MOTION PICTURE Mychal Danna ("Life of Pi") Alexandre Desplat ("Argo") Dario Marianelli ("Anna Karenina") Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil ("Cloud Atlas") John Williams ("Lincoln")

Williams probably has to have a fireplace with a mantel in every room of his house to hold his career haul of trophies. He'd better start building one in the bathroom to hold the prizes for "Lincoln."

BEST ORIGINAL SONG - MOTION PICTURE "For You" from "Act of Valor" (Monty Powell, Keith Urban) "Not Running Anymore" from "Stand Up Guys" (Jon Bon Jovi) "Safe & Sound" from "The Hunger Games" (Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T Bone Burnett) "Skyfall" from "Skyfall" (Adele, Paul Epworth) "Suddenly" from "Les Miserables" (Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer)

When it comes to music awards, Adele is probably unbeatable these days, so "Skyfall" it is.