With Seth Rogen, Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, Sacha Baron Cohen and others on board as presenters, Sunday's Golden Globe awards ceremony is clearly hoping not to be a repeat of last year's disastrous telecast.
That show amounted to little more than a press conference as actors stayed away in a show of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, then on strike. With no script and no stars, the bare-bones broadcast drew its lowest ratings in years.
But on Sunday, viewers can get back to the business of ogling celebrities, marveling at the Globes' typically left-field picks and wondering just how accurately this show predicts the winners of the upcoming Oscars. (The Globes also hand out awards for television programming.) Last year, the Globes gave "No Country for Old Men" only two awards, for supporting actor ( Javier Bardem) and screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen), but the film went on to grab four Oscars, including best picture.
Since the fun of any awards show is handicapping the outcome, here are our picks in the major categories. The ceremony airs live from The Beverly Hilton Hotel on NBC at 8 p.m. Sunday.
NOMINEES "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," " Frost/Nixon," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road," "Slumdog Millionaire"
SHOULD WIN "Slumdog Millionaire." Danny Boyle's violent but uplifting tale of a Mumbai orphan is terrifically entertaining.
WILL WIN "Slumdog Millionaire." The themes of poverty and the far-flung setting may resonate with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the awards.
NOMINEES Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"' Kristin Scott Thomas; "I've Loved You So Long"; Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"
SHOULD WIN Scott Thomas, for her portrayal of a woman prematurely aged by prison.
WILL WIN Hathaway, whose breakout dramatic role in a more widely-seen film has drawn critical praise.
NOMINEES Leonardo DiCaprio, "Revolutionary Road"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk" ; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
SHOULD WIN Penn, who virtually reincarnates the openly gay politican Harvey Milk.
WILL WIN Rourke, whose gutsy comeback role as a broken-down wrestler makes a better backstory.
NOMINEES " Burn After Reading," " Happy-Go-Lucky," "In Bruges," " Mamma Mia!," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
SHOULD WIN " Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Woody Allen's breezily funny but deceptively deep film about love, fate and character.
WILL WIN "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
ACTRESS/COMEDY OR MUSICAL
NOMINEES Rebecca Hall, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Frances McDormand, "Burn After Reading"; Meryl Streep, "Mamma Mia!"; Emma Thompson, "Last Chance Harvey"
SHOULD WIN Hawkins. As an unsinkably optimistic schoolteacher named Poppy, she manages to be endearing and irritating at once.
WILL WIN Hawkins.
ACTOR/COMEDY OR MUSICAL
NOMINEES Javier Bardem, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Colin Farrell, "In Bruges"; James Franco, "Pineapple Express"; Brendan Gleeson, "In Bruges"' Dustin Hoffman, "Last Chance Harvey"
SHOULD WIN Bardem, who plays a clichéd Latin lover with surprising depth, complexity and humor.
WILL WIN Javier Bardem.
NOMINEES Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penélope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
SHOULD WIN Tomei, for her brave and vulnerable portrayal of a stripper approaching the end of her earning years.
WILL WIN Cruz. Tomei's performance has gone largely unnoticed, but Cruz drew raves for her role as a hilariously volatile artiste.
NOMINEES Tom Cruise, "Tropic Thunder"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Ralph Fiennes, "The Duchess" ; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
SHOULD WIN Ledger. His Joker is the most memorable and mesmerizing screen villain in years.
WILL WIN Ledger.
NOMINEES " Bolt," " Kung Fu Panda," "Wall-E"
SHOULD WIN "Wall-E." This emotionally engaging story of robots in love is the year's best film, animated or otherwise.
WILL WIN No contest -- it's "Wall-E."
NOMINEES "The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Germany); "Everlasting Moments" (Sweden, Denmark); "Gomorrah" (Italy); "I've Loved You So Long (France)"; "Waltz With Bashir" (Israel)
SHOULD WIN "I've Loved You So Long," a subtle, powerful character study by novelist-turned-director Philippe Claudel.
WILL WIN "Waltz With Bashir." This unusual, animated documentary about massacres during the 1982 Lebanon war packs a topical punch.
NOMINEES Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; David Fincher, "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Sam Mendes, "Revolutionary Road"
SHOULD WIN Boyle. The vigorous and lively "Slumdog" trounces the somber, often sentimental competition.
WILL WIN Boyle.
NOMINEES "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," Eric Roth; "Doubt," John Patrick Shanley; "Frost/Nixon," Peter Morgan; "The Reader," David Hare; "Slumdog Millionaire," Simon Beaufoy
SHOULD WIN "Slumdog Millionaire." This adaptation from an Indian novel isn't perfect, but it's a clever and entertaining yarn.
WILL WIN "Doubt." Shanley's playwright pedigree may give him the edge.
NOMINEES "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat; "Changeling," Clint Eastwood; " Defiance," James Newton Howard; "Slumdog Millionaire," A. R. Rahman; "Frost/Nixon," Hans Zimmer
SHOULD WIN "Slumdog Millionaire," for Rahman's canny combination of traditional scoring and Bollywood pizzazz.
WILL WIN "Slumdog Millionaire."
NOMINEES "Down To Earth," from "Wall-E." Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; lyrics by Peter Gabriel; "Gran Torino," from "Gran Torino." Music by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens; lyrics by Jamie Cullum; "I Thought I Lost You," from "Bolt." Music and lyrics by Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele; "Once In A Lifetime," from "Cadillac Records." Music and lyrics by Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarmon, Ian Dench, James Dring and Jody Street; "The Wrestler," from "The Wrestler." Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen
SHOULD WIN "The Wrestler." If The Boss knows one thing, it's how to compose an ode to the down-and-out.
WILL WIN "The Wrestler."