Glitzy Golden Globes launch a Hollywood awards season dominated by La La Land and Moonlight

Sunday’s ceremony marks start of a fiercely contested awards season, though Globes’ reputation for eccentric picks makes it a patchy predictor of which films and stars will win Oscars

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:32pm

Hollywood’s elite hits the red carpet on Sunday for the Golden Globes, launching a fiercely contested awards season that looks set to reward escapist fantasy and gritty drama in equal measure.

The Globes has a reputation for delighting in its eccentric picks, so its record in predicting Oscars glory has been patchy over the years, but it is a huge draw for the stars and remains for many a solid bellwether for Academy Awards success.

“The Globes is known as one of the most fun parties of the year. There are only about 1,200 seats, and they’re hard to get. So that ‘insider’ status is tantalising,” said Tim Gray, awards editor for trade magazine Variety.

“And Hollywood knows that the Globes reach a big audience, so it’s important to get their films out there, to increase public awareness.”

La La Land leads Critics Choice Award nominees and wins over New York film critics

Leading the pack of films vying for top honours is Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, a tribute to the golden age of Hollywood musicals set in modern-day Los Angeles.

It picked up seven nominations, and pundits see it as the overwhelming favourite for best comedy/musical film, ahead of 20th Century Women, Deadpool , Florence Foster Jenkins and Sing Street .

La La Land is also in a strong position to pick up awards for its stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, best director for Chazelle and best score and song, according to a poll of experts by awards website Gold Derby.

La La Land could win all of its categories. It’s either the front-runner or in second place, I believe, in all seven. The safest for them are comedy/musical best picture, Emma Stone and for score,” Gold Derby managing director Chris Beachum said.

“They could win for Gosling, director and song but the Globes voters tend to want to spread things out more than that. You don’t generally see a movie winning more than three or four.”

Moonlight beats La La Land in LA Film Critics awards

Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age tale Moonlight, with six nominations including for the director and cast members Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, has been monopolising attention on the drama side of the contest.

Another front-runner is Kenneth Lonergan’s unflinching Manchester by the Sea, which earned the filmmaker nods for best directing and screenplay, while Casey Affleck is a favourite for best actor and Michelle Williams vies for best supporting actress.

Gold Derby’s experts have it just ahead of Moonlight as favourite for best dramatic motion picture, with Mel Gibson’s war movie Hacksaw Ridge , heist thriller Hell or High Water and family drama Lion rounding out the category.

“On our website it’s razor thin. Our experts go with Manchester but if you combine all people voting and predicting, it’s slightly in favour of Moonlight,” said Beachum.

“It’s a very tight race. I think both will win a couple of awards.”

For best actress in a drama, Natalie Portman is expected to pick up the award for her intense, critically acclaimed turn as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, which chronicles the days immediately following John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.

Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, a German comedy about a troubled father-daughter relationship, is leading the betting in the foreign language category after sweeping the board at the European film awards in December.

Director of German comedy Toni Erdmann on her 2016 festival sensation

It will vie for the prize with three French films – Divines, Elle and The Salesman, a joint French-Iranian production – as well as Chile’s Neruda.

On the television side, FX true crime anthology The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is expected to enjoy a winning night with five nominations.

AMC crime drama The Night Manager will be close behind, with four nominations, while Black-ish, The Crown, The Night Of, This is Us and Westworld have three each.

HBO comfortably leads the television nominations with 14.

Hollywood A-listers Drew Barrymore, Sylvester Stallone, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon will add glitz to the annual party as awards presenters, while host Jimmy Fallon is seen as a safe pair of hands compared with another Globes regular, caustic British comedian Ricky Gervais.

“The Globes are always a slightly chintzier affair when compared to the Oscars or the Emmys,” wrote Jack Mirkinson, an editor at US pop culture website Fusion, of the upcoming ceremony.

“But they’re often way more fun to watch, especially because all the stars involved get progressively drunker as the night goes on.”