(**UPDATED with winners - and some explanation/analysis)
Predicting how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will vote for may be the toughest prediction to make during the entire Award Season.
Several recent Golden Globe nominees have obviously been nominated by international reputation alone (Johnny Depp for 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'The Tourist' in the same year and the same category). While several other Golden Globe winners failed to even receive an Academy Award nomination: Paul Giamatti ('Barney's Version') or Ben Affleck ('Argo').
This year’s field of nominees is a tough field to call. In fact, the only category that appears to be a lock is ‘Best Actress in a Drama.’ There’s only one clear winner here – you can take a bet on this pick.
That said - here are my picks for who should and who will win Golden Globe Awards for feature films tonight:
Final scorecard: 7.5 correct predictions out of 11 predicted categories - earned 1 pt for each correct 'will win' and earned 0.5 'should win' picks ... nailed six predictions ... got three predictions sort-of-right with 'should win' picks ... got two categories absolutely and completely wrong ('Lead Actor in a Comedy' and 'Foreign film') .
Best Motion Picture - Drama:
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: '12 Years A Slave' seemed too 'American' a premise and story for the HFP to pick, while 'Gravity' is universally thrilling and heart-stopping in any language. Furthermore, 'Gravity' boasts a $405 million international box office (not counting its $256 m US box office) - while '12 Years a Slave' has only $38.9 m in the US. '12 YAS' may be the Best Picture frontrunner, but it's not the clear Oscar favorite yet - 'Gravity,' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' and 'Her' are just behind.
Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical:
- American Hustle (will win) (WINNER)
- Her (should win)
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- The Wolf of Wall Street
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: 'American Hustle' was the only obvious pick for this award. It boasts the biggest, most prominent all-star cast and is stronger than most of these films ... except 'Her.'
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama:
- Chiwetel Ejiofor for '12 Years a Slave' (will win)
- Idris Elba for 'Mandela'
- Tom Hanks for 'Captain Phillips'
- Matthew McConaughey for 'Dallas Buyers Club' (should win) (WINNER)
- Robert Redford for 'All Is Lost'
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: 'Dallas Buyers Club' is an acting movie - now legitimized by its two prominent stars (McConaughey & Jared Leto) winning Golden Globe awards. But the Lead Actor category remains the most challenging - and McConaughey will still have to deal with Ejiofor, Bale, Dern and Issac in the Oscar category.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama:
- Cate Blanchett for 'Blue Jasmine' (should & will win) (WINNER)
- Sandra Bullock for 'Gravity'
- Judi Dench for 'Philomena'
- Emma Thompson for 'Saving Mr. Banks'
- Kate Winslet 'Labor Day'
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: Blanchett is the clear winner in this category at every ceremony this Award Season. In fact, it will be a surprise if she doesn't win the Oscar. But Thompson still has an outside shot for the Lead Actress Oscar.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical:
- Christian Bale for ‘American Hustle’ (will win)
- Bruce Dern for ‘Nebraska’ (should win)
- Leonardo DiCaprio for ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (WINNER)
- Oscar Isaac for ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
- Joaquin Phoenix for ‘Her’
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: The Golden Globes has had a number of their 'Lead Actor-Comedy' award winners not receive an Oscar nomination. DiCaprio - while fine in WoWS - did not deserve this win and he may not even be nominated for an Oscar. DiCaprio won this award based on name recognition and the broad appeal of his performance.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical:
- Amy Adams for ‘American Hustle’ (should & will win) (WINNER)
- Julie Delpy for ‘Before Midnight’
- Greta Gerwig for ‘Frances Ha’
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus for ‘Enough Said’
- Meryl Streep for ‘August: Osage County’
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: Amy Adams was the only clear winner for this award. Streep would only have won based on her name recognition - not her performance in another wise lame movie. Adams may receive an Oscar nomination - but she'd be up against the unstoppable Cate Blanchett.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
- Barkhad Abdi for ‘Captain Phillips’ (should win)
- Daniel Brühl for ‘Rush’
- Bradley Cooper for ‘American Hustle’ (**could win)
- Michael Fassbender for ‘12 Years a Slave’
- Jared Leto for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (will win) (WINNER)
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: Leto has all the momentum in Award Season to take the Supporting Actor Oscar. But Abdi's performance still has the greatest range. That said, Leto's performance has the greatest depth of anyone in this category.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
- Sally Hawkins for ‘Blue Jasmine’
- Jennifer Lawrence for ‘American Hustle’ (will win) (WINNER)
- Lupita Nyong'o for ‘12 Years a Slave’ (should win)
- Julia Roberts for ‘August: Osage County’
- June Squibb for ‘Nebraska’
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: Jennifer Lawrence also has momentum - and she's carrying over a lot of that momentum from her Best Supporting Actress run last year. She is America's new sweetheart - and her talent will make her force to be reckoned with in the years to come. But J-Law still has one strong competitor in the field: Nyong'o. The Best Supporting Actress race will be a rematch of these two leading contenders.
Best Director - Motion Picture:
- Alfonso Cuarón for ‘Gravity’ (should & will win) (WINNER)
- Paul Greengrass for ‘Captain Phillips’
- Steve McQueen for ‘12 Years a Slave’
- David O. Russell for ‘American Hustle’
- Alexander Payne for ‘Nebraska’
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: Cuarón crafted a frenetic, heart-stopping, intense film. Every watt of kinetic energy in 'Gravity' comes from his masterful direction.
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture:
- American Hustle (will win)
- 12 Years a Slave
- Her (should win) (WINNER)
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: While the smart money was one the witty, sharply written 'American Hustle' - the HFP smartly picked the poetic and beautifully written 'Her.'
Best Foreign Language Film:
- The Past
- The Hunt (should win)
- Blue Is the Warmest Color (will win)
- The Great Beauty (WINNER)
- The Wind Rises
** Post-Golden Globes thoughts: 'The Great Beauty' is pretty much a lock for the Best Foreign Film winner at the Academy Awards. Neither 'Blue is the Warmest Color' nor 'The Past' made the list of 10 films still eligible for the Best Foreign Film Oscar category. This is important because most 'best foreign film' awards this year have gone to 'The Past' or 'Blue.' The only legitimate competition standing between 'Beauty' and the Oscar is the incredible thriller 'The Hunt.'