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The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will hand out the Golden Globes on Sunday, in what should be a fizzy stop in an unpredictable awards season for nominees including Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman.
The Globes are uneven as Oscar predictors -- the small group of international journalists who make the selections have no crossover with the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters. But the show is reliable as a "sloppy, loud party," as this year's co-host Tina Fey described the festivities in a promotional video. Fey and Amy Poehler will emcee the Globes, which air live on NBC at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST, from the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
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Here are a few things to watch for on the film front:
Cranky directors: The awards road can be a long and wearying one, especially for the directors who carry the full weight of a film's hopes on their shoulders. Three of the Globes' director nominees have extra reason to be a little testy Sunday: "Argo's" Affleck and "Zero Dark Thirty's" Bigelow were both just passed over for Oscar nominations, even though they were heavy favorites and their films were nominated for best picture. Bigelow has also endured a firestorm of criticism for her film's depiction of torture in the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden.
And "Django Unchained" director Quentin Tarantino, also passed over for an Oscar nom, has been snapping at reporters who have asked about violence in his movies in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Steven Spielberg should be buoyant, after "Lincoln's" 12 Oscar nominations and seven Globes nominations, and no one has ever reported seeing "Life of Pi's" Ang Lee in a bad mood.
Head-scratcher nominees: Thanks to its hazily defined musical or comedy categories and taste for telegenic stars, every year the HFPA selects some curious movies to reward. This year the oddball choices include the lightly regarded romantic comedy "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," which is nominated in the best picture, comedy or musical category, and its stars Emily Blunt (actress, comedy or musical) and Ewan McGregor (actor, comedy or musical). Also perplexing is the choice of Bill Murray (actor, comedy or musical) for his performance as Franklin Roosevelt in the historical drama "Hyde Park on Hudson."
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Surprising speeches: Thanks to the bottomless bottles of champagne and low-stakes atmosphere, the Globes have lent themselves to some memorable acceptance speeches in the past, like Natalie Portman's awkward shout-out to her fiance when she won for "Black Swan" in 2011 or Jamie Foxx leading the crowd in a rendition of "What'd I Say" before crying about his grandmother when he won for "Ray" in 2005. This year we're hoping for some "Les Miserables"-esque talk-singing from supporting actress nominee Anne Hathaway or Thaddeus Stevens-style harrumphing from "Lincoln's" supporting actor nominee, Tommy Lee Jones.
Dames a plenty: British actresses and official dames Judi Dench (actress in a comedy or musical, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Maggie Smith (actress in a comedy or musical, "Quartet") and Helen Mirren (actress in a drama, "Hitchcock") will all be in attendance, as will America's closest dame equivalent, Meryl Streep (actress in a comedy or musical, "Hope Springs"). Expect queenly table manners and wry red carpet jokes from the lady rat pack.
A dramatic finish: In the Globes' best picture, drama category, front-runners "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty" will duke it out, while in the best picture, musical or comedy category, "Les Miserables" and "Silver Linings Playbook" will compete. Oscar's best picture race is still wide open, but Sunday's winners may help their films build momentum with any academy voters who are tuning in.
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