Best Picture, Drama
• The Aviator
• Finding Neverland
• Hotel Rwanda
• Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator: Martin Scorsese's high-flying epic is one of those movies created to win awards. It's an unwieldy story with too many actors. It fearlessly mixes old-school style and modern-day pizzazz. And it does a bunch of other stuff. It's a flawed masterpiece, for sure, but it has way more momentum than others (Closer, Hotel Rwanda) set to fail in this category. Clint Eastwood's boxing flick is the toughest contender in this ring, and people will be hedging their bets until the award is in someone's hand. That hand will be Scorsese's, by a nose...of a plane. Or something.
Best Picture, Musical or Comedy
• Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
• The Incredibles
• The Phantom of the Opera
Sideways: This poor category has such an identity crisis it's impossible to compare its contenders. There is music in Phantom and Ray, sure, and plenty of laughs in The Incredibles. But did the HFPA peeps even see Sideways and Sunshine? Those are downer films and could've held their own in the drama category. Needless to say, this is a two-movie race that comes down to the fact that people like to get wasted at the Globes. Those equally soused voters are going to overlook the strange brilliance of Sunshine for the slightly better brilliance of Sideways, simply because the flick's dialogue knows its way around a good Sauvignon Blanc. Hey, sometimes, that's all it takes.
• Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
• Marc Forster, Finding Neverland
• Mike Nichols, Closer
• Alexander Payne, Sideways
• Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
Martin Scorsese: Don't forget, these are the same people who gave the guy an award for Gangs of New York. And that movie was horrible. They're simply blinded by the old-school-director thing. Apparently, that's enough to overpower the fact that Clint Eastwood has crafted a slow and steady boxing flick that can make grown men cry. He could walk away with this win if the HFPA gives Aviator Best Picture and decides to make Dirty Harry's day here. (His 16-year-old daughter, Kathryn, is Miss Golden Globe 2005, after all.) It'll be close. One thing's for sure: The other three chaps don't have a shot.
Best Actress, Drama
• 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
Imelda Staunton: For a while, it looked like Hilary Swank would just walk up to the stage, punch out the presenter and raise her award in the air like Rocky. Could still happen. But don't underestimate the power of a gritty foreign movie nobody saw. Staunton's Vera Drake secretly performed abortions in 1950s England (we know you missed it, too, so we're filling you in), and both pro-life and pro-choice people champion it. Besides, she's been quietly cleaning up some big-time guild awards. Johansson and Kidman have more good roles left in them, and Thurman sure as heck ain't winnin' for a kung-fu flick. Get ready for a really boring acceptance speech.
Best Actor, Drama
• Javier Bardem, The Sea Inside
• Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
• Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland
• Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator
• Liam Neeson, Kinsey
Javier Bardem: This is the toughest, closest category of the lot. The HFPA wants to see Leo grow up. Everybody loves Johnny. Liam ruled Kinsey with class. And Don is a superstar clearly deserving of more lead roles. But Bardem has a cache of international cool, and he's huge in his native Spain. Then he pulled the oldest trick in the book (think Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron): He went ugly, playing an aged quadriplegic who fought for his right to die with dignity. That's a one-way ticket to the winner's circle, man. And it's a move that'll nudge him past his fierce competition--but just barely.
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy
• 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
Annette Bening: Even though there are some household names in the running, the competition is pretty weak. Zellweger's and Judd's movies got mixed reviews, and Phantom hit a flat note at the box office. That leaves Winslet and Bening to duke it out. Mind has been an award-season dark horse--a great movie that's just a tad outpaced by the others. The problem will hold Winslet back from the win. Besides, Bening truly rises above and beyond onscreen as an aging theater diva who exacts a devilish revenge to reclaim the spotlight from the younger tramps. She'll do it again on Globes night.
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy
• Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
• Jamie Foxx, Ray
• Paul Giamatti, Sideways
• Kevin Kline, De-Lovely
• Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea
Jamie Foxx: Everybody likes a surprise. And Foxx is the surprise of the year: a comedian who first proved his acting chops in the dark Collateral and then as the amazing embodiment of Ray Charles in Ray. Sure, say the same thing about Carrey's turn for Mind, but people aren't fully ready to accept him as an award winner. Giamatti was great in Sideways but that's because his costars kept up with him. And the two Kevin movies were a lot of song and dance, but both received uneven buzz. As much as we'd like to see Carrey have his ass deliver his acceptance speech, this is Foxx's time to shine.
Best Ensemble, Drama
• The Sopranos
Lost: The Sopranos may have been better than ever this season, with the unforgettable, unshakable demise of Adriana (Drea de Matteo), but the HBO hit is an old fuddy-dud when it comes to Globes voters. The très hip Foreign Press members want fresh meat up at that podium, not the same old folks we just saw at the Emmys--and that's why the hourglass also may have run dry on Fox's 24. HBO's Deadwood is too laden with F-bombs for wide appeal (even the nomination itself was a surprise to many). And though clearly there's a lot of Nip/Tuck praise this season (with two acting nods as well), given the sheer mania over JJ Abrams' latest and greatest adventure, you can count on voters finding a Lost win.
Best Actress, Drama
• Christine Lahti, Jack & Bobby
• Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
• Joely Richardson, Nip/Tuck
• Jennifer Garner, Alias
• Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Joely Richardson: The shocker here is Christine Lahti's nomination. Though it is well deserved, she earned it on a little-known series on a little-known network. This underappreciated series could certainly use the lift, as could Law & Order: SVU, in which Mariska Hargitay certainly shines. But the drama dame to beat here is Joely Richardson of Nip/Tuck. From the mental breakdown that sent her flying through a plate of glass to her torn-between-two-lovers storyline with Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon, Richardson has owned the screen, delivering more dramatic kick than even superspy girl Jennifer Garner.
Best Actor, Drama
Best Ensemble, Comedy
• Arrested Development
• Will & Grace
• Sex and the City
• Desperate Housewives
Desperate Housewives: So it's Sex and the City's swan song. So the series has always been a favorite with Globes voters, winning a slew of trophies for both the show and the fab foursome. So what? The one undeniable winner at this year's awards has to be ABC's Desperate Housewives. Not only is it the scorching hot show of the nanosecond (so the Foreign Press will feel holier than thou voting it in before Emmy gets a chance), Housewives is deliciously the next Sex and the City. A "Sex and the Suburbs," if you will, which means it has everything Globes voters adore--sex, scandal, beautiful babes and outrageous situations. Say hello to our new golden child.
Best Actress, Comedy
• Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City
• Teri Hatcher,Desperate Housewives
• Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
• Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
• Debra Messing, Will & Grace
Felicity Huffman: Though Parker has been nominated every year and won four times since SATC's inception in 1999, she, sadly, doesn't stand much of a chance in her final year. Ditto for Messing, who has been nominated five times and, gulp, never won. The HFPA's love affair with those witty women of Wisteria Lane is evident from the three nominations here, and you can bet on one of the divas to take home a trophy. Who's the lucky lady? Most likely it will be Huffman, who is long overdue (and long loved, ever since Aaron Sorkin's short-lived Sports Night). Her outrageous and sob-worthy scenes as the mother who just can't seem to cope will garner the most sympathy--and the most props.
Best Actor, Comedy
• Tony Shalhoub, Monk
• Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
• Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
• Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
• Matt LeBlanc, Joey
• Zach Braff, Scrubs
Jason Bateman: Only one of these contenders already has a Globe under his belt--Monk's Shalhoub--and we shouldn't expect a repeat performance, thanks to a slight waning in the show's popularity. David's offbeat comedy might not translate with the Foreign Press, and Sheen was a surprise even to be included. And though Two and a Half Men is doing well, it doesn't quite have the cool factor voters crave. Ditto on LeBlanc, who hasn't won a Globe or an Emmy. That leaves a neck-and-neck race between two funnyguys who just happen to be good friends--Braff and Bateman. And though both are deserving, expect the HFPA to beat Emmy to the punch, and give Bateman the glory.