Pre-pandemic, no televised awards show was more wicked fun than the Golden Globes, which invited nominees from film and television to sit together at convivial tables where alcohol famously loosened tongues and made for fizzy acceptance speeches. Look no further than Olivia Colman who did a real loop-de-loop last year.
This Sunday, the fizz will have to take other forms. The nominees will only appear remotely, unable to toast (and roast) each other. My fantasy of comedy actor contenders Bill Murray and Sacha Baron Cohen doing shots and trading quips will not be a reality -- at least not this year.
Presenters are still scheduled to show up live before a socially-distanced audience made up of a limited number of front-line and essential workers. Amy Poehler will host from Los Angeles while Tina Fey will hold sway in New York. So expect barbed kidding between the kudos.
There is much to ding, starting with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association itself, a ragtag group of about 90 Globes voters who write about the biz for overseas publications without anyone ever quite knowing who they are. Last year's host Ricky Gervais announced that "the meal was all vegetables, as are the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association." So these people can take a joke.
I'm expecting Fey and Poehler to open fire since there isn't a single Black-themed nominee in the categories of best motion picture, neither drama nor musical or comedy. Did no one get the text about diversity? Oh, wait, it turns out that not one of the 90 Globe voters is Black, per their own admission. Whoops! Still, count on the Globes to be unpredictable, which makes predicting them such a blast. Here goes.
Best Motion Picture, Drama
"Promising Young Woman"
"The Trial of the Chicago 7"
Should win: "Da 5 Bloods"
But shamefully Spike Lee's Vietnam war epic about Black soldiers wasn't nominated. And neither were "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "One Night in Miami," "Judas and the Black Messiah" or any other acclaimed film that tackled the urgent theme of Black Lives Matter. This zero Black voters factor could be a problem. Yikes! #GlobesSoWhite.
Will win: "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
By recreating a notorious 1969 trial in which anti-war protesters were falsely accused of conspiring to cause riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, writer-director Aaron Sorkin touched a raw nerve about a corrupt president, police violence and the demonizing of free speech. How's that for timely?
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
Should win: Anything but "Music"
Nominating "Music" was a disastrous choice that goes back to the days when the HFPA gave acting prizes to Pia Zadora and Madonna and mega-flops like "The Tourist." I wouldn't cry if the vote favored "Palm Springs" or the latest "Borat" but...
Will win: "Hamilton"
Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway musical smash about "the ten-dollar Founding Father" Alexander Hamilton -- which has already won Tonys, Grammys and a Pulitzer -- was captured live on stage with the incomparable original cast, many of them persons of color playing the white old guard. If the Globes have any chance for redemption, "Hamilton" is it. Plus, "Hamilton" deserves the prize.
Best TV Series, Comedy
"Emily in Paris"
"The Flight Attendant"
Should win: "Schitt's Creek"
And not just because "Emily in Paris" is god-awful, which it is, but because this classic comedy creation from the Levys -- dad Eugene and son Dan -- is as good as sitcoms get.
Will win: "Ted Lasso"
The Globes like being first at putting a new show on the map. "Schitt's Creek" already won a bunch of Emmys and has finished its run, which makes this wiseacre sports comedy about an American football coach in England the freshest face in the bunch.
Best TV Series, Drama
Should win: "The Mandalorian"
Like the Oscars, the Emmys perpetually snub commercial entertainment, such as this wildly imaginative space western set in the "Star Wars" universe. Here's a chance for the Globes to show they're not snobs when it comes to top-tier fun. Plus, there's Baby Yoda!
Will win: "The Crown"
This previous winner for season 1 is already on season 4. But here's the thing: After a sleepy season 3, "The Crown" has come alive again with its most dazzling and delicious season yet -- what with Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher (a best in show Gillian Anderson) joining the palace intrigue. Talk about irresistible.
Best Limited Series or TV Movie
"The Queen's Gambit"
Should win: "Small Axe"
Director Steve McQueen raised the bar on TV as art with these five original movies that tell stories of London's West Indian community, set from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s.
Will win: "The Queen's Gambit"
Who cares about art when this seven-episode series is around to make chess sexy? Add suspense, thrills, smarts and star supreme Anya Taylor-Joy and the combo is unbeatable.
Best Actor, Motion Picture, Drama
Riz Ahmed, "Sound of Metal"
Chadwick Boseman, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Anthony Hopkins, "The Father"
Gary Oldman, "Mank"
Tahar Rahim, "The Mauritanian"
Should win: Riz Ahmed, "Sound of Metal"
If Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer last year at age 43, wasn't in this category, Ahmed would surely be the one to beat for his towering tour de force as a rock drummer facing deafness.
Will win: Chadwick Boseman, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
There are some who believe an actor should be alive to receive an award. But Globe voters are not among them, having posthumously awarded Peter Finch ("Network") and Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight"). So Boseman is a lock, not out of sympathy but because the "Black Panther" star was a magnificent actor who gave the performance of his life as a 1920s-era trumpet player pushed to the limit in the film version of August Wilson's acclaimed play.
Best Actress, Motion Picture, Drama
Viola Davis, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Andra Day, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday"
Vanessa Kirby, "Pieces of a Woman"
Frances McDormand, "Nomadland"
Carey Mulligan, "Promising Young Woman"
Should win: Viola Davis, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
As the defiant mother of the blues fighting racism in 1927, Davis is a hip-swinging force of nature as Ma fights to make music she calls "life's way of talking."
Will win: Carey Mulligan, "Promising Young Woman"
People cannot stop talking to me about this diabolically fierce and funny takedown of toxic masculinity or the career-best, all-stops-out performance from Mulligan that touches a raw nerve for the #MeToo movement. She's unforgettable and unstoppable.
Best Actor, Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
James Corden, "The Prom"
Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Hamilton"
Dev Patel, "The Personal History of David Copperfield"
Andy Samberg, "Palm Springs"
Should win: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
As the shamelessly offensive TV journalist from Kazakhstan, Baron Cohen again proves he is just the comic revolutionary we need to take on a world out of joint. He's so funny it hurts.
Will win: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
Sometimes it is that simple and the best man wins.
Best Actress, Motion Picture, Comedy
Maria Bakalova, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
Kate Hudson, "Music"
Michelle Pfeiffer, "French Exit"
Rosamund Pike, "I Care a Lot"
Anya Taylor-Joy, "Emma"
Should win: Rosamund Pike, "I Care a Lot"
As a court-appointed protector of the elderly who does anything but protect, Pike tops the "Gone Girl" evil that won her an Oscar nomination, creating a mesmerizing monster in a comic valentine to greed that holds up a dark mirror to our own baser instincts.
Will win: Maria Bakalova, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
As Borat's underage daughter, Tutar, the scene-stealing Bakalova, 24, is the first actress from Bulgaria to win a Globe nomination and certainly the first to share a now-infamous scene with Rudy Giuliani, then former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer. In a hotel room, Tutar pretends to be a journalist interviewing Giuliani, who flirts embarrassingly with her. Bakalova deserves credit for her comic timing and empathy, but her moment with Giuliani puts her in the comedy time capsule.
Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture
Sacha Baron Cohen, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
Daniel Kaluuya, "Judas and the Black Messiah"
Jared Leto, "The Little Things"
Bill Murray, "On the Rocks"
Leslie Odom Jr., "One Night in Miami"
Should win: Leslie Odom Jr., "One Night in Miami"
As Sam Cooke, the soul singer who locks horns with Malcolm X about selling out to the white market, Odom Jr. -- a Tony winner for playing Aaron Burr in "Hamilton" -- brilliantly captures the bruised heart of a public figure in Regina King's stirring civil-rights drama.
Will win: Sacha Baron Cohen, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
As radical firebrand Abbie Hoffman, Baron Cohen shows he has dramatic chops to match his comic ones. He's also the best among equals in a cast of powerhouse actors who idiotically did not get nominated. It's only fair that he wins just to represent. It's his night.
Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture
Glenn Close, "Hillbilly Elegy"
Olivia Colman, "The Father"
Jodie Foster, "The Mauritanian"
Amanda Seyfried, "Mank"
Helena Zengel, "News of the World"
Should win: Amanda Seyfried, "Mank"
As Marion Davies, a starlet of Hollywood's Golden Age and mistress of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, Seyfried busts out of her "Mamma Mia" ingénue box to bring sass and steel to a talented actress unfairly maligned as a loser in "Citizen Kane." Seyfried is revelatory as she pours heart and soul into a gutsy role and rides it to glory.
Will win: Glenn Close, "Hillbilly Elegy"
A great actress in a flawed movie, a nearly unrecognizable Close crushed it as Mamaw, a cussin', chain-smoking, hillbilly matriarch. Olivia Colman in "The Father" is tough competition, but Close fans won't stand for a repeat of Colman's surprise Oscar win for "The Favourite" when Close should have been a lock for "The Wife."
Best Actress, TV Series, Drama
Olivia Colman, "The Crown"
Jodie Comer, "Killing Eve"
Emma Corrin, "The Crown"
Laura Linney, "Ozark"
Sarah Paulson, "Ratched"
Should win: Emma Corrin, The Crown
Playing Princess Diana would be a challenge for any actress, but Corrin found the fragility of a young woman out of her depth in the palace and the growing strength to lead her life her way.
Will win: Olivia Colman, The Crown
Colman is playing the queen, after all, so expect her to take home a Globe to match the one she won last year for the same role. Plus, she gives really fun acceptance speeches.
Best Actor, TV Series, Drama
Jason Bateman, "Ozark"
Josh O'Connor, "The Crown"
Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"
Al Pacino, "Hunters"
Matthew Rhys, "Perry Mason"
Should win: Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"
Odenkirk has been on fire for five seasons as legal eagle Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman on this killer-good prequel to "Breaking Bad" and he hasn't won a Globe for any of them. As the sixth and final season approaches, isn't it time to give credit to a master?
Will win: Matthew Rhys, "Perry Mason"
If Odenkirk has to lose again, it should be to Rhys. This Welsh actor, an Emmy winner for "The Americans," takes the TV super-lawyer that Raymond Burr made famous from 1957 to 1966 and recreates him as a flawed human being worthy of empathy. That's an acting miracle.
Best Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie
Bryan Cranston, "Your Honor"
Jeff Daniels, "The Comey Rule"
Hugh Grant, "The Undoing"
Ethan Hawke, "The Good Lord Bird"
Mark Ruffalo, "I Know This Much Is True"
Should win: Hugh Grant, "The Undoing"
Watching the most charming Grant since Cary muddy his image in the role of a malignant narcissist and suspected killer disguised as a good husband, father and children's doctor is an unalloyed pleasure. At 60, Grant is showing hidden depths I can't wait to see more of.
Will win: Mark Ruffalo, "I Know This Much is True"
Ruffalo is poised to earn a Globe to go with the Emmy he's already won for his dual role as identical twin brothers, one of whom suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. A lesser actor might have made the roles a stunt, but Ruffalo is a true artist who never shows off.
Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie
Cate Blanchett, "Mrs. America"
Daisy Edgar-Jones, "Normal People"
Shira Haas, "Unorthodox"
Nicole Kidman, "The Undoing"
Anya Taylor-Joy, "The Queen's Gambit"
Should win: Shira Haas, "Unorthodox"
As a Brooklyn bride trapped in an arranged marriage in a strict Hasidic community, Haas makes an impact that should turn this young Israeli actress into a global superstar.
Will win: Anya Taylor-Joy, "The Queen's Gambit"
If "Gambit" is the TV event of the year, which I believe it is, then the series owes its powerhouse effect to the smashing, star performance of Taylor-Joy as an orphaned chess prodigy from Kentucky who rises to world champion. You can't take your eyes off her.
Best Actor, TV Series, Comedy
Don Cheadle, "Black Monday"
Nicholas Hoult, "The Great"
Eugene Levy, "Schitt's Creek"
Jason Sudeikis, "Ted Lasso"
Ramy Youssef, "Ramy"
Should win: Jason Sudeikis, "Ted Lasso"
As an American football coach recruited to take charge of an English Premier League team, Sudeikis displays a low-key charm as refreshing as it is rare. If Globe voters like anointing the the new kid on the block for a fresh TV season then Sudeikis is their man.
Will win: Eugene Levy, "Schitt's Creek"
At 74, Levy is definitely the old kid on the block. But his career best performance as riches-to-rags business manager Johnny Rose is comic acting of the highest order. Nobody does it better.
Best Actress, TV Series, Comedy
Lily Collins, "Emily in Paris"
Kaley Cuoco, "The Flight Attendant"
Elle Fanning, "The Great"
Jane Levy, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"
Catherine O'Hara, "Schitt's Creek"
Should win: Catherine O'Hara, "Schitt's Creek"
As the hilariously eccentric Moira Rose, a former soap star forced into anonymity in small-town, motel hell with her husband and their two spoiled adult children (the priceless Dan Levy and Annie Murphy), O'Hara is the best gift a laugh line ever had.
Will win: Catherine O'Hara, "Schitt's Creek"
O'Hara is a comedy goddess who doesn't need awards, but she's getting this one.
Best Director, Motion Picture
Emerald Fennell, "Promising Young Woman"
David Fincher, "Mank"
Regina King, "One Night in Miami"
Aaron Sorkin, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
Chloé Zhao, "Nomadland"
Should win: Zhao, King and Fennell in a three-way tie
This would celebrate this unique moment in the annals of awards when women directors outnumbered the men in the traditional boys' club of best director. No wonder this is my favorite category this year. Eat your hearts out, dudes.
Will win: Chloe Zhao, "Nomadland"
No one expects the Globes crew to do a tie -- that would be too revolutionary. But a win for Zhao, whose masterpiece about America's abiding nomadic spirit would make the Beijing-born filmmaker only the second woman to win the directing prize since the Globes started in 1944. Maybe you think Kathryn Bigelow, still the only woman to win a directing Oscar, also took the Globe for "The Hurt Locker." Nah. The Globesters shock pick was Barbra Streisand for "Yentl." Like I said, you can go broke betting on the crazy Globes, but what a kick to try. The race is on.