It's awards season again, and as always, those of us in the entertainment industry try our best to predict who the Hollywood Foreign Press will reward with little statuettes.
The 72nd Golden Globe Awards air on Sunday, January 11, starting at 6 p.m. ET with red-carpet coverage. 2014 was a year of great movies and even better television, so it's a difficult process to whittle down the nominees in each of the major categories.
In many cases, it's not about performance; often it's more about buzz and word-of-mouth. For my predictions, I take all factors into consideration: worthiness, appeal across multiple age groups, the "mainstream," and of course, the inherent popularity contest that these award shows have become.
Here are my picks for winners in the major categories, each with a short explanation below the choice.
** DISCLAIMER: Don't email me with your rage if you lose your office pool because of me. Feel free, however, to disparage me on Twitter if you must.**
Best Motion Picture - Drama
- "The Imitation Game"
- WINNER: "Selma"
- "The Theory Of Everything"
Why: "Selma" is an intense, visceral movie, with its finger on the pulse of what's happening in the United States at the moment. History is history, but the film carries resonance across decades, and manages to stay relevant to the times we live in. "Boyhood" is a cinematic masterpiece, but sadly doesn't have the mainstream clout of its competitors; "Foxcatcher" is in the same boat, and is way too maudlin. "Imitation" and "Theory," as biopics, are at a disadvantage from the get-go.
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
- WINNER: "Birdman"
- "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
- "Into The Woods"
- "St. Vincent"
Why: This battle is really between "Birdman" and "Grand Budapest" -- both movies are original, fun in their own right, and feature some stellar performances and direction. It could go either way, but the recency effect gives the award to "Birdman." "Into The Woods," while a fan favourite, is disjointed and laggy in the last half. Barely anyone knows about "Pride" (even though it's a fun enough romp), and "St. Vincent," despite Bill Murray as its nucleus, is too dark of a horse.
Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
- Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"
- Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
- Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler"
- David Oyelowo, "Selma"
- WINNER: Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory Of Everything"
Why: Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking converted me into a Redmayne fan. I went into "Theory" expecting to laugh my way out of the theatre. Instead, it was the exact opposite. Yes, a tear or two developed along the way. He is remarkable in the role, and this might just be the career-changer every actor hopes for. The only way he won't win is if the popularity machine revs into motion, giving Cumberbatch the victory.
Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
- Ralph Fiennes, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
- WINNER: Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
- Bill Murray, "St. Vincent"
- Joaquin Phoenix, "Inherent Vice"
- Christoph Waltz, "Big Eyes"
Why: Keaton is a revelation in "Birdman," wild-eyed and solemn at the same time. Plus, doesn't everyone love a comeback story? Don't worry, Mr. Keaton, we've all but forgotten "Multiplicity." No one else even comes close in this category. OK, maybe Murray, but "Lost In Translation" in 2003 was his comeback.
Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
- Jennifer Aniston, "Cake"
- Felicity Jones, "The Theory Of Everything"
- WINNER: Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"
- Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"
- Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"
Why: Moore has this on lock. What role is more award-worthy than a woman stricken by early-onset Alzheimer's? Every other woman in this category delivered poignant, full performances (especially Jones in "Theory"), but Moore comes out on top. Just as with Best Actor, the only way this can be an upset is if the HFPA wants to get gimmicky and give the award to Aniston. Who could resist the charms of a sitcom actress breaking her typecasting and winning a Globe? Bah, now that I think about it, it'll probably be her. Another dark horse is Pike, whose turn in "Gone Girl" got tongues wagging -- but it's a long shot.
Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
- WINNER: Amy Adams, "Big Eyes"
- Emily Blunt, "Into The Woods"
- Helen Mirren, "The 100-Foot Journey"
- Julianne Moore, "Maps To The Stars"
- Quvenzhané Wallis, "Annie"
Why: This category is a bit empty, with weird nominations like Mirren in "100-Foot," almost as if they needed to fill the nomination slots. While "Big Eyes" is getting tepid reviews across the board, Adams is well-liked by the HFPA, and as always, turns in a commendable performance. I personally loved Moore in "Maps" -- she nailed the Hollywood persona with incredible precision -- and it would be quite something for her to have a two-Globe night. We can't forget Kate Winslet's two-Globe night in 2009, so hey, it is possible!
Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Drama
- Robert Duvall, "The Judge"
- Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
- WINNER: Edward Norton, "Birdman"
- Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
- J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"
Why: This one's a toughie, with a very deserving Simmons on the periphery looking in. "Whiplash" is on critics' radars, but not many others', so he's out. Hawke is fun in "Boyhood," but not award-worthy. Ruffalo is always solid, but again, the morose "Foxcatcher" is just missing that oomph. "The Judge"? Just no. That leaves Norton, and that fight scene in his underwear with Keaton pretty much seals the deal.
Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Drama
- Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
- Jessica Chastain, "A Most Violent Year"
- Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
- WINNER: Emma Stone, "Birdman"
- Meryl Streep, "Into The Woods"
Why: This one's another toughie, but Stone edges out the competition. Streep is wonderful in "Woods," but the legendary actress has had way better/more noteworthy roles in the past. We also can't forget Stone's mainstream appeal -- she's white-hot ever since she bowled us over in "Easy A," and this award is long overdue.
- Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
- Ava DuVernay, "Selma"
- David Fincher, "Gone Girl"
- Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"
- WINNER: Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"
Why: A hard, hard category. Really, any one of these directors could take home the prize. I'm giving it to Linklater because "Boyhood" is singular, original, and a long time coming. It's insane that it actually took this many years of filmmaking for someone to shoot a true-to-life time-lapse film, and he not only shot it, he nailed it; additionally, it's too difficult for "Boyhood" to win in any other category, so it makes sense to reward it here. That said, DuVernay, Anderson and Iñárritu all delivered stellar movies, and are equally deserving. This one's up in the air.
Best Drama Series
- WINNER: "The Affair"
- "Downton Abbey"
- "Game Of Thrones"
- "The Good Wife"
- "House Of Cards"
Why: You can strike "Game Of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey" from the winners list right away; while these shows are the height of popularity, they won't win until they're being taken off the air. It just won't happen. While "The Good Wife" continues to excel and could very possibly win, I think newcomer "The Affair" will take it. It's a bit gimmicky, but also very clever in its structure. The acting is excellent (Dominic West fan right here) and the subject matter is addictive. "House Of Cards" still has a chance, too, and its second season outshone the first.
Best Actor in a Television Drama Series
- Clive Owen, "The Knick"
- Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"
- WINNER: Kevin Spacey, "House Of Cards"
- James Spader, "The Blacklist"
- Dominic West, "The Affair"
Why: I loves me some West (as mentioned above), but Spacey is in absolute monster in Season 2 of "House Of Cards." We also can't forget that Spacey carries some major weight in both the TV and movie spheres, with both the high-brow and mainstream fans. "The Knick" and "Ray Donovan," while great, are both off the radar for the viewing public, and unfortunately "Blacklist" has gotten ridiculous lately. That may not stop Spader from a surprise win, or West, but I think Spacey has this one.
Best Actress in a Television Drama Series
- Claire Danes, "Homeland"
- WINNER: Viola Davis, "How To Get Away With Murder"
- Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
- Ruth Wilson, "The Affair"
- Robin Wright, "House Of Cards"
Why: Davis is the newbie here (as is Wilson, but ... nah), and I think her performance is good enough to warrant the win. Both Danes and Margulies are possible victors, but man, they've been nominees in this category so long they have cobwebs around their names. The HFPA really needs to spice this up, which makes a Davis win all the more likely.
Best Comedy Series
- "Jane The Virgin"
- "Orange Is The New Black"
- "Silicon Valley"
- WINNER: "Transparent"
Why: So. Much. Buzz. On deeper thought, "Jane The Virgin" has been building momentum over the last month or so as more people are watching, plus critics love it, so I can't count out its chance for victory. Imagine: the first CW show to ever be nominated for a Globe actually wins the Globe...
Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series
- Louis CK, "Louie"
- Don Cheadle, "House Of Lies"
- Ricky Gervais, "Derek"
- William H. Macy, "Shameless"
- WINNER: Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"
Why: There is no question here. If I'm going to put money on any of my predictions, it's this one. (As an aside, this category is so boring. I swear it's carbon-copy nominations of last year's, with the exception of Tambor. So if you need another reason, there it is.)
Best Actress in a Television Comedy Series
- Lena Dunham, "Girls"
- Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
- WINNER: Gina Rodriguez, "Jane The Virgin"
- Taylor Schilling, "Orange Is The New Black"
Why: It'll either be Rodriguez, who's an absolute delight in "Jane" (and also a fresh face, can't forget that!), or the ever-strong Louis-Dreyfus, who just can't seem to lose in this category. Schilling, as much as I love her on "OITNB," won't take the singular award in a show based on the ensemble. Falco and Dunham are a distant, faint light.
Tune into the Golden Globes on January 11, starting at 6 p.m. EST. I hope I didn't let anyone down.