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Best Picture, Drama
Will and Should Win: Lincoln
The tricky thing about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that they tend to be wooed by celebrity and prestige. The people and films they recognize tend to bestow honor upon the award rather than the other way around, and this year — with the earlier Oscar nominations deadline sapping the Globes of influence, the ceremony is really struggling for relevance. I suspect Lincoln, which has emerged as the clear award season frontrunner, will get the top drama prize because it would reflect well on the tastes of the HFPA. It also deserves the recognition, so win-win.
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Best Actor, Drama
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Should Win: John Hawkes, The Sessions
Daniel Day-Lewis is this season's surest sure thing, and the Globes voters will not want to seem out of touch by voting for anyone else. But if they truly wanted to distinguish themselves from the Oscars, instead of merely riding that more prestigious show's coattails, they would give the honor to John Hawkes for his performance in The Sessions as a charming disabled man, looking for love before life passes him by. The fact that he was snubbed by the Academy for a nomination would make the rebellion all the more delicious.
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
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Best Actress, Drama
Will Win: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Should Win: Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jessica Chastain's relentless performance as a CIA targeting analyst hunting Osama bin Laden is a harrowing bit of business, and the fact that the upbeat, delicate actress could convey such fearsomeness is a testament to her formidable skills as a performer. I suspect the Globes will recognize her for it, but the outside-the-box choice would be Naomi Watts for The Impossible, another underdog who could truly benefit from the recognition since many voters have been hesitant about the movie, fearing the story of a family caught up in the 2004 tsunami will be too agonizing to endure. Most people who finally see Watts' work come away impressed, and a Globes win for her would help create a real question about who might claim the Best Actress Oscar.
WINNER: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
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Best Picture, Comedy or Musical
Will Win: Les Misérables
Should Win: Silver Linings Playbook
Les Misérables is the epic in this race, and the gravity of it may draw in the HFPA voters, who tend to be starstruck as it is. But reviews haven't been kind to the movie, and director Tom Hooper's snub by the Academy is a sign of weak support. If the Globes wanted to enhance their cred, they would vote for Silver Linings Playbook, which scored a nomination in each of the acting categories, as well as nods for David O. Russell for directing and adapted screenplay. The HFPA also tends to bow to the whim of Harvey Weinstein, who released Silver Linings, so honoring this movie won't be hard.
WINNER: Les Misérables
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Best Actor, Comedy or Musical
Will Win: Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Should Win: Jack Black, Bernie
Have I indicated that the Globes voters, who threw nominations to Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for the much-maligned romantic thriller farce The Tourist, tend to be starstruck? Well, they are, and Hugh Jackman is one of those people who could charm the ballots right out of their hands. He was also phenomenal in Les Misérables, but if the Globes wanted to be daring they would look toward Jack Black's simmering comedic performance in Bernie, as a Mr. Nice Guy who does unspeakable things.
WINNER: Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
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Best Actress, Comedy or Musical
Will and Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
By splitting the categories into comedy/musical and drama, the Globes take a lot of the Academy rivals out of competition with each other. Lawrence has a real shot at best actress against Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain and The Impossible's Naomi Watts. On her own here, she is most likely unstoppable.
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
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Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
The HFPA spends a lot of the year being wined and dined by studios, filmmakers, and actors who factor the Globes telecast into their Oscar campaigns. Since the success of that show depends in part on celebrity screen time, Globes voters like to cast their ballots for very famous faces. Leonardo DiCaprio may have the edge in that regard. Tommy Lee Jones? He gave a hell of a performance, but it's hard to imagine him making nice with the Hollywood Foreign Press over a lunch buffet.
WINNER: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
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Best Supporting Actress
Will and Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Even people who don't like Les Misérables come away admiring Hathaway's performance as the doomed Fantine. The Globes voters wouldn't dare risk looking out of touch by voting for anyone else, even if Sally Field's performance in Lincoln has gained momentum recently.
WINNER: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
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Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Should Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Lincoln has been Steven Spielberg's passion project for more than a decade, and his success in pulling off a complicated historical/political drama is rightly being recognized as one of the great filmmaking feats of 2012. He's also as famous as a director can get. Ang Lee also managed an impressive directorial accomplishment with Life of Pi, and that movie scored the second most Oscar nominations behind Lincoln, despite not having any acting nods. Both are formidable Oscar contenders, and if the Globes wanted to mix things up, they'd go with the less obvious choice.
WINNER: Ben Affleck, Argo
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Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Should Win: Frankenweenie
This category feels like a toss-up. Wreck-It Ralph was a mainstream success, but Frankenweenie has more star power behind it thanks to Tim Burton. Box-office flop Frankenweenie is certainly the underdog (no pun intended) and feels like the edgier choice. Either one would make me happy, though.
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Best Foreign Language Film
Will and Should Win: Amour
Michael Haneke's somber and heartbreaking look at an aging couple saying goodbye at the end of their lives has received so much acclaim — not to mention Best Director, Picture, and Original Screenplay Oscar nominations — that it's hard to imagine it losing.
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Will and Should Win: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Kushner's accomplishment is authenticity — all of the period costumes and production design would be meaningless if the words these characters were saying didn't resonate while also feeling true to the passion and language of the period.
WINNER: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
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Best Original Song
Will and Should Win: Adele, ''Skyfall''
She's the favorite to win the Oscar, too. Done deal.
WINNER: Adele, ''Skyfall''
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Will Win: John Williams, Lincoln
Should Win: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Both are magnificent works, though this is another one of those non-celebrity categories that feels like it gets short shrift at the Globes. John Williams' Lincoln score is notable for its restraint, while Danna's music in Life of Pi has to convey a lot of the unspoken emotion of that harrowing story. Each one is worthy in his own way.
WINNER: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi