'Sideways' Spin for Golden Globes

Even on a drunken road trip, it'd be hard to imagine that a small-budget buddy comedy would ever be drenched in Hollywood's highest honors, and yet "Sideways" is poised to be an awards show powerhouse.

Hollywood's annual season of self-congratulation kicks into high gear on Sunday as the red carpet rolls out for the 62nd Golden Globe Awards. Momentum for "Sideways" continued to build this week, as the Alexander Payne movie picked up four Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

Even cast members say they're surprised by all the acclaim.

"All of us are just blown away that this is happening because no one was thinking about that while we were shooting. This was just, like, a smaller film," said Virginia Madsen, who plays a waitress romanced by Paul Giamatti.

As a junior high school teacher in the aftermath of an ego-crushing divorce, Giamatti takes his soon-to-be-married college buddy Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong drive up to California's wine country.

The $12 million film, based on a Rex Pickett novel, earned a leading seven Golden Globe nominations, one more than "The Aviator," Martin Scorsese's $100 million film about billionaire Howard Hughes.

"It almost seemed like it was just for us when we were making it," said Madsen. "We were just on this pink cloud, just all of us making this little, little movie and, uh, here we are like, 'Wow!' "

There will be several newcomers at this year's Golden Globes. ABC's "Desperate Housewives" leads all TV shows with five nominations, and if you thought the women of Wisteria Lane got competitive on their show, three of the stars -- Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman -- are nominees for best actress in the TV musical or comedy category.

But that's not the only way the stars of "Desperate Housewives" will be competing. Their show will air Sunday at its regularly scheduled time while the awards will be presented on NBC, in a telecast that begins at 8 p.m.

To top it off, the stars of "Desperate Housewives" will also be presenters on the NBC telecast, making it very likely that these ladies will be on the evenings' two most watched TV shows -- at the exact same time.

The Globes will once again feature a parade of stars, including Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Usher, Prince, Naomi Watts and Renée Zellweger, who will share in the hosting and presenting duties.

Each year, the 94-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association honors the best in TV and film. Unlike the Oscars, in this ceremony, there are separate awards in the categories of drama and comedy/musical.

The Golden Globes have been criticized over the years, mostly because their body of voters is so small. In comparison, more than 4,500 film industry professionals cast Oscar ballots. Still, even as the number of awards shows has exploded, the Golden Globes continue to score high TV ratings, last year second only to the Oscars ceremony.

At this year's show, you'll get to watch legendary cut-up Robin Williams, a six-time Globe winner, as he accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award, 26 years after the HFPA first honored him for "Mork and Mindy."

You'll also see Clint Eastwood's darling daughter Kathryn, 16, assist with the presentation of awards as Miss Golden Globe 2005, raising the expectation that she'll be up on the podium if her dad, himself a former DeMille winner, wins for "Million Dollar Baby," which is nominated in five categories, including best director.

Here's how some of the most watched categories shape up:

Best Picture, Drama
The Nominees: "The Aviator," "Closer," "Finding Neverland," "Hotel Rwanda," "Kinsey," "Million Dollar Baby"

Conventional Wisdom: Last year, everyone knew "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" would win. This year, it's too close to call. "Finding Neverland" and "Hotel Rwanda" have international appeal, and that might sway the foreign press, but that hasn't exactly been a factor in past years. "Million Dollar Baby" might be the best bet.

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "The Incredibles," "Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera," "Ray," "Sideways"

Conventional Wisdom: "Sideways" has the momentum. But "Eternal Sunshine" or "Ray," both highly acclaimed, could surprise. "The Incredibles," perhaps the most entertaining film of 2005, makes a good case for the Globes to add a category for animation, although they hand out too many awards as it is.

Best Actress, Drama
The Nominees: Scarlett Johansson, "A Love Song for Bobby Long"; Nicole Kidman, "Birth"; Imelda Staunton, "Vera Drake"; Hilary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"; Uma Thurman, "Kill Bill: Vol. 2"

Conventional Wisdom: They always say actresses win awards when they take ugly parts. Swank bulked up with forearms that Jason Giambi would admire. She might be slugging it out with Staunton, a heavyweight in British theater. Kidman, a three-time winner, has now been nominated seven times, including four years in a row. Does she even have room on her mantelpiece for another Golden Globe?

Best Actor, Drama
The Nominees: Javier Bardem, "The Sea Inside"; Don Cheadle, "Hotel Rwanda"; Johnny Depp, "Finding Neverland"; Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Aviator"; Liam Neeson, "Kinsey"

Conventional Wisdom: Depp, nominated last year in the comedy/musical category, might score this year for his performance as "Peter Pan" playwright J.M. Barrie. Interestingly, all five actors are nominated for portraying real-life figures.

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: Annette Bening, "Being Julia"; Ashley Judd, "De-Lovely"; Emmy Rossum, "Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera"; Kate Winslet, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; Renée Zellweger, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason"

Conventional Wisdom: Among these performances, only Rossum's was in a film up for a best picture award, but the 18-year-old might not match up against Annette Bening. Zellweger's second edition of "Bridget Jones" and Judd's "De-Lovely" nosedived at the box office, which doesn't help their case.

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: Jim Carrey, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; Jamie Foxx, "Ray"; Paul Giamatti, "Sideways"; Kevin Kline, "De-Lovely"; Kevin Spacey, "Beyond the Sea"

Conventional Wisdom: Carrey, a double winner and six-time nominee, is golden at the Globes, despite never earning an Oscar nod. This might be his best performance yet, but don't expect him to win. Foxx not only took on the role of Ray Charles, he played piano (while lip-synching) in a stunning display of talent. The funniest thing about "Beyond the Sea" is that the 45-year-old Spacey passed himself off as a boyish "Mack the Knife"-era Bobby Darin, although Spacey did sing.

Best Supporting Actress
The Nominees: Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"; Laura Linney, "Kinsey"; Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"; Natalie Portman, "Closer"; Meryl Streep, "The Manchurian Candidate"

Conventional Wisdom: Madsen's tender performance lifts "Sideways" from guy buddy film to Oscar contender, and that's just about as much support as a supporting actress could give. Blanchett in a turn as Katharine Hepburn is something to behold, and Meryl Streep seemed to be channeling Hillary Rodham Clinton, but their roles didn't really transcend the movies in which they appear.

Best Supporting Actor
The Nominees: David Carradine, "Kill Bill: Vol. 2"; Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways"; Jamie Foxx, "Collateral"; Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"; Clive Owen, "Closer"

Conventional Wisdom With his world-weary voice, Freeman as a narrator does for "Million Dollar Baby" what he earlier did for "The Shawshank Redemption." Foxx's performance in "Collateral" might be overshadowed by his stellar work in "Ray." Church might ride a "Sideways" sweep, but his performance as an actor painfully aware of his declining career is more than worthy.

Best Director
The Nominees: "Million Dollar Baby"; Marc Forster, "Finding Neverland"; Mike Nichols, "Closer"; Alexander Payne, "Sideways"; Martin Scorsese, "The Aviator"

Conventional Wisdom: There's always talk of Hollywood getting behind Scorsese, who's never won an Oscar, although he's been nominated four times for best director and twice for screenplays. He hasn't fared much better at the Globes, winning just once in seven tries (for "Gangs of New York").

Best TV Series, Drama
Television Drama Series: "24," Fox; "Deadwood," HBO; "Lost," ABC; "Nip/Tuck," FX; "The Sopranos," HBO

Conventional Wisdom: It's old vs. new. "24" has won twice and "The Sopranos," another past winner, is a perennial nominee. Newcomers "Lost" and "Deadwood" both have good buzz and a cult following, but will the cowboy drama be held back by salty saloon cussing?

Best Actress, TV Drama
The Nominees: Edie Falco, "The Sopranos"; Jennifer Garner, "Alias"; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"; Christine Lahti, "Jack & Bobby"; Joely Richardson, "Nip/Tuck"

Conventional Wisdom: Falco is an awards show darling, with three Emmys and two Golden Globes. Garner has jumped successfully to the big screen, but the long hiatus of "Alias" might hurt her. Hargitay, nominated for the first time, might have the edge.

Best Actor, TV Drama
The Nominees: Michael Chiklis, "The Shield"; Denis Leary, "Rescue Me"; Julian McMahon, "Nip/Tuck"; Ian McShane, "Deadwood"; James Spader, "Boston Legal"

Conventional Wisdom: No Martin Sheen? No James Gandolfini? Past winner Michael Chiklis has seniority here. The time may have come for Brit Ian McShane, who stars in "Deadwood."

Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: "Arrested Development," Fox; "Desperate Housewives," ABC; "Entourage," HBO; "Sex and the City," HBO; "Will & Grace," NBC

Conventional Wisdom: After handing five nominations to "Desperate Housewives," members of the HFPA are sending a clear signal they're virtual residents of Wisteria Lane. If "Desperate Housewives" doesn't win, demand a recount.

Best Actress, TV Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: Marcia Cross, "Desperate Housewives"; Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives"; Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives"; Debra Messing, "Will & Grace"; Sarah Jessica Parker, "Sex and the City"

Conventional Wisdom: Combine the nomination of these three "Desperate Housewives" with the nod for Nicollette Sheridan for best supporting actress, and this crew has matched "Sex and the City" as the only show ever with four Golden Globe nominations for acting in a single year. However, the problem looms that the "Desperate Housewives" vote will be divided, clearing the way for another accolade and final goodbye for Parker's HBO sensation.

Best Actor, TV Musical or Comedy
The Nominees: Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development"; Zach Braff, "Scrubs"; Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; Matt LeBlanc, "Joey"; Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"; Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

Conventional Wisdom: Globe voters didn't honor Braff for the sleeper hit "Garden State," but that might earn him some points here. LeBlanc's show met with declining ratings. David's cult hit might have that foreign appeal that made Ricky Gervais of "The Office" a winner last year.

Best Supporting Actress, TV
The Nominees: Drea de Matteo, "The Sopranos"; Anjelica Huston, "Iron Jawed Angels"; Nicollette Sheridan, "Desperate Housewives"; Charlize Theron, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"; Emily Watson, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"

Conventional Wisdom: De Matteo's death scene and her dalliance with Tony were the most talked about moments of last season's "Sopranos." Sheridan, however, stole so many scenes that producers on "Desperate Housewives" had to expand her role as America's favorite neighborhood tart.

Best Supporting Actor, TV
The Nominees: Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace"; Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos"; Jeremy Piven, "Entourage"; Oliver Platt, "Huff"; William Shatner, "Boston Legal"

Conventional Wisdom: After winning this category in 2000, Hayes has been nominated every year since. Even if he never wins again, he's sure to join TV's pantheon of wacky neighbors, and the "always-a-bridesmaid" status might suit his TV persona. Jeremy Piven, as the consummate showbiz insider on HBO's new comedy, might be just the sort of Hollywood insider that either nauseates or amuses real-life Hollywood insiders. We may soon find out.