Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from "12 Years A Slave"

Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from "12 Years A Slave" Credit: AP

To predict this year's Golden Globe winners, just follow the three rules of real estate: location, location, location.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association always tends to categorize and divvy up its Golden Globe nominees in kooky ways, and this year is no exception. How did Daniel Bruhl, who takes up half the screen time of "Rush," end up as a supporting actor? What is the melancholy sci-fi tale "Her" doing in the comedy-musical category? Once you figure where an actor or a movie has been placed -- and why -- you might be able to guess the winner.

The most obvious example comes with "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle," two rivals in this year's awards race. The former is a profound film about the African-American experience, while the latter is a high-energy crime story featuring white A-listers like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Hmmm, which to choose? The Globes put the slavery movie in the drama category, of course, then cleverly sneaked "American Hustle" into the comedy category, essentially guaranteeing that each will win.

Scan the nominees below and you'll probably spot a few more examples of gerrymandering. If that seems cynical, try looking at this way: 2013 was a surprisingly strong year, with many fine films and terrific performances that deserve recognition. For once, maybe the Globes have the right idea.

Best motion picture, drama

"12 Years a Slave"

"Captain Phillips"




SHOULD WIN "12 Years a Slave." Without guilt-tripping viewers or wallowing in misery, Steve McQueen's masterful film illuminates a painful chapter in American history.

WILL WIN "12 Years a Slave"

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"

Judi Dench, "Philomena"

Emma Thompson, "Saving Mr. Banks"

Kate Winslet, "Labor Day"

SHOULD WIN Blanchett. Though the movie polarized viewers, few argued with Blanchett's funny, nervy performance as a shattered socialite.

WILL WIN Blanchett

Best actor in a motion picture, drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"

Idris Elba, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"

Tom Hanks, "Captain Phillips"

Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Robert Redford, "All Is Lost"

SHOULD WIN McConaughey. He shed 50 pounds to play an AIDS victim, yet became twice the actor he's ever been -- and that's saying something.

WILL WIN Redford. The backstory here -- Hollywood legend proves his indie cred by starring in art-house drama -- may be too seductive to pass up.

Best motion picture, musical or comedy

"American Hustle"


"Inside Llewyn Davis"


"The Wolf of Wall Street"

SHOULD WIN "Her." It's neither musical nor comedy, but a visionary, groundbreaking work of science fiction.

WILL WIN "American Hustle." It's too much fun, and the '70s costumes too delicious, for the Globes to overlook.

Best actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Amy Adams, "American Hustle"

Julie Delpy, "Before Midnight"

Greta Gerwig, "Frances Ha"

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Enough Said"

Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"

SHOULD WIN Adams. As a complex con woman who somehow hides her cards and shows them all at once, she's the central mystery in "American Hustle."


Best actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Christian Bale, "American Hustle"

Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"

Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Oscar Isaac, "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Joaquin Phoenix, "Her"

SHOULD WIN Dern. Best known for playing psychos and villains, Dern does a 180 as an endearing curmudgeon. Oddly, it may be his most natural performance to date.


Best supporting actress

Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"

Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"

Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"

Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"

June Squibb, "Nebraska"

SHOULD WIN Nyong'o. The Kenyan actress holds nothing back as the woefully abused Patsy, whose flayed body becomes the central symbol in "12 Years a Slave."

WILL WIN Nyong'o. But there's room for an upset from critical favorite Squibb or popular favorite Lawrence.

Best supporting actor

Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"

Daniel Brühl, "Rush"

Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"

Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"

Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

SHOULD WIN Leto. The actor-rocker blends both his careers as the cross-dressing character Rayon, who embodies the grit and vulnerability of the entire AIDS community in "Dallas Buyers Club."


Best director

Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"

Paul Greengrass, "Captain Phillips"

Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"

Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"

David O. Russell, "American Hustle"

SHOULD WIN McQueen. The competition here is extraordinary, but McQueen is operating on a higher level, somewhere up near Stanley Kubrick.



"Countdown to the Red Carpet" (4-6 p.m. Sunday, E!); "1st Look: Live on the Red Carpet" (6-7 p.m., NBC/4); "Live From the Red Carpet" (6-8 p.m., E!) and "Golden Globes Arrival Special" (7-8 p.m., NBC/4) will offer fashion play by play and interviews on the red carpet.

"The Golden Globes" (8-11 p.m., NBC/4) -- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler again host from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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