What will happen at the Golden Globes? Part of the fun of this ceremony is that you never quite know: A tipsy actor might make a speech too colorful for network censors, or an award could go to the person everyone least suspects. That can make predicting the results of Sunday’s show a bit difficult, especially since the Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an eccentric collection of about 90 journalists. Sometimes, those voters will pick the contender with the most Oscar buzz, but just as often, they’ll go their own unique way.
This year’s film competitions offer no shortage of places where the Globes can make their mark. Despite the opportunity to spread the wealth in separate categories for best drama and best comedy or musical, there are still plenty of close contests in which a victor at the Globes could accrue the edge needed to convince some on-the-fence Oscar voters. I’ve picked the people and movies I expect to win:
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Charlize Theron, "Bombshell”
Renée Zellweger, “Judy”
One of the night’s few mortal locks, Zellweger came on strong early this season with her passionate performance as Judy Garland, and she has never given up her place as the best-actress front-runner. Though Johansson is the only nominee who’s also fronting one of the best-drama contenders, this is Zellweger’s to lose — and she won’t.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferrari"
Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”
Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”
Driver couldn’t be having a better year: Alongside recent star turns in “The Report” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” he has delivered one of his most moving performances in “Marriage Story,” which scored more Golden Globe nominations than any other film. If he weren’t up against Phoenix, he’d win this in a walk, but Phoenix, a six-time nominee who won a Golden Globe for “Walk the Line,” likely has the edge for his more talked-about, transformational performance.
Best Motion Picture, Drama
“The Two Popes”
If the Hollywood Foreign Press Association picks Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” or Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” everyone will simply nod and say, “That seems about right.” Which is why I think it may not happen! After all, this is the voting body that swerved from last year’s perfectly respectable best-drama choice, “A Star Is Born,” and selected “Bohemian Rhapsody” instead. It wouldn’t be a Globes ceremony without a big victory that comes out of left field, and I think “Joker” could provide the shock of the night.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Awkwafina, “The Farewell”
Cate Blanchett, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”
Ana de Armas, “Knives Out”
Beanie Feldstein, “Booksmart”
Emma Thompson, “Late Night”
The Globes always pay heed to where the Oscar wind is blowing, and since Awkwafina is the only contender in this eccentric category with any real chance at earning an Academy Award nomination, that could give her an advantage. Still, her odds have dwindled since she was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and that could open the door for an up-and-comer like de Armas, the “Knives Out” lead, to prevail instead.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Daniel Craig, “Knives Out”
Roman Griffin Davis, “Jojo Rabbit”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”
Eddie Murphy, “Dolemite Is My Name”
Could this category give us Sunday’s most delicious upset? My brain is telling me that DiCaprio should take the award easily: He’s an 11-time Globe nominee who has won three times before, and the Hollywood foreign press counts on his star wattage to keep their lights on every year. That said, “Rocketman” star Egerton has campaigned much more extensively than his reticent competitors, and though he’s hindered by the fact that his performance as Elton John comes in the shadow of Rami Malek’s Globe-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” turn just last year, I can’t underestimate Egerton’s willingness to press the flesh. DiCaprio is probably safe, but oh man: If he loses, that reaction-shot GIF is going to be brutal.
Best Motion Picture, Comedy
“Dolemite Is My Name”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
His screenplays for “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained” earned Quentin Tarantino a pair of Oscars and a pair of Golden Globes, but he has never taken the top award from either voting body. The Globes will rectify that by giving “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” the best-comedy trophy. Will the Oscars follow suit?
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”
Annette Bening, “The Report”
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”
Dern is considered the Oscar front-runner, but if there’s any ceremony she might lose at, it’s this one: The Globes love a surprise supporting-actress winner, and a vote for Lopez would give them plenty of superstar flash. I also wonder whether Dern, who is on the Oscars’ Board of Governors, might be so associated with that group that the Hollywood Foreign Press will feel permission to go a different way. Then again, she is a four-time Globe winner who served as Miss Golden Globe at age 15. Expect a photo finish.
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”
Al Pacino, “The Irishman”
Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
Pitt has never won an Oscar for acting, but the Globes haven’t proved as hard to impress: He triumphed in this category back in 1996 for “Twelve Monkeys,” and Sunday, he’ll win again.
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”
Sam Mendes, “1917”
Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
This will be a true clash of the titans, as Scorsese and Tarantino face the surging Bong. Scorsese has won this Golden Globe three times before, while Tarantino would be picking up his first award in the category. On paper, both of them would be a safer bet than the man I’m putting my chips on: Bong, who I increasingly think will win the best-director Oscar, too.
Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
Bong Joon Ho and Jin Won Han, “Parasite”
Anthony McCarten, “The Two Popes”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
Steven Zaillian, “The Irishman”
Baumbach was denied a best-director nomination in part because “Marriage Story” is considered more of a scripting accomplishment. Here, then, is the perfect category for Globe voters to make it up to him, though he’ll face formidable competition from two-time winner Tarantino.
Best Foreign-Language Film
“Pain and Glory”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
It’s way past time for the Golden Globes to open their top drama and comedy-musical categories to films made outside the English language, but in the meantime, this will be an easy win for “Parasite.”
Best Animated Feature Film
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
“The Lion King”
“Toy Story 4”
This Globe almost always goes to a Pixar film, and though “Incredibles 2” lost last year to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse,” “Toy Story 4” should have an easier road to victory. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the delicious shade of the Golden Globes nominating the photorealistic remake of “The Lion King” for this category, despite the fact that Disney has positioned it as a live-action movie for awards purposes.
Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, “Little Women”
Hildur Gudnadottir, “Joker”
Randy Newman, “Marriage Story”
Thomas Newman, “1917”
Daniel Pemberton, “Motherless Brooklyn”
If you’re related to competing cousins Randy and Thomas Newman, filling out your Golden Globes pool could prove awfully fraught. The latter Newman is better situated thanks to a war movie that makes more pervasive use of his music, but I think the Globes are down to clown and will go for Gudnadottir’s “Joker” score instead.
Best Original Song
“Beautiful Ghosts” (“Cats”) — Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber
“I’m Gonna Love Me Again” (“Rocketman”) — Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“Into the Unknown” (“Frozen 2”) — Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
“Spirit” (“The Lion King”) — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Timothy McKenzie and Ilya Salmanzadeh
“Stand Up” (“Harriet”) — Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo
You have two of the music world’s biggest stars going to head-to-head here in Swift and Beyoncé, and they’re up against another mammoth song from the “Frozen” franchise. Still, the Globes love legacy acts — don’t forget that “Let It Go” from the original “Frozen” lost to a U2 song you’d be pressed to name. For that reason, I think they’ll be inclined to reward the new song 72-year-old John wrote with Bernie Taupin for “Rocketman.”