Although there have been a slew of award nominations announced in recent weeks, things kicked into high gear Wednesday (December 14) with the Screen Actors Guild nods and go into overdrive Thursday when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announces the Golden Globe nominees.
We've gathered our thoughts about whose names will be read bright and early Thursday morning — the shoo-ins and the should-bes.
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Shoo-ins: "The Help," "The Descendants," "Hugo" and "War Horse"
Should-bes: "Warrior," "Moneyball," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2"
The HFPA loves A-list stars, and what better way to guarantee their attendance at your ceremony than with a nomination? "The Help" is a clear fave, "Descendants" means George Clooney and "Hugo" and "War Horse" mean big-time directors. "Moneyball" would bring Brad Pitt — who would bring Angelina Jolie, maybe. "Potter" deserves a nomination for the franchise's astounding success.
Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Shoo-ins: "The Artist," "Bridesmaids" and "Midnight in Paris"
Should-bes: "The Beginners" and "50/50"
There are always a few great surprises at the Globes, particularly with the Best Comedy or Musical category. It opens up the field and allows for a few fun entries, including all of the above. The HFPA loves Woody Allen, but both "Bridesmaids" and "The Artist" have great momentum.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Shoo-ins: George Clooney in "The Descendants," Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" and Leonardo DiCaprio in "J. Edgar"
Should-bes: Michael Fassbender in "Shame," Ryan Gosling in "Drive" and Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
So many heavy-hitters to choose from! The critics love Fassbender and Gosling this year, so it will be interesting to see if the HFPA also feels the love for the popular young men. And Oldman is a perennial favorite, despite being snubbed by SAG.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Shoo-ins: Jean Dujardin in "The Artist," Owen Wilson in "Midnight in Paris" and Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary"
Should-bes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50," Steve Carell in "Crazy Stupid Love" and Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard"
Dujardin is a serious front-runner, and the HFPA almost always nominates Depp, no matter the critical and box-office reception of the qualifying film in question. Gordon-Levitt is one of the most talented actors working right now, and his wonderful performance in "50/50" deserves recognition.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Shoo-ins: Viola Davis in "The Help," Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady" and Tilda Swinton in "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Should-bes: Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" and Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia"
Such strong, stalwart contenders here who gave well-received and compelling performances in a variety of films. It will be very interesting to see if the HFPA goes for iconic favorites or new-ish blood, particularly since several of these films have not yet been widely released.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Shoo-ins: Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn" and Charlize Theron in "Young Adult"
Should-bes: Kristen Wiig in "Bridesmaids"
This category is more difficult to predict than the Drama category, which might mean it will lend itself to a couple of pleasant surprises.
Best Supporting Actor
Shoo-ins: Christopher Plummer in "Beginners" and Kenneth Branagh in "My Week With Marilyn"
Should-bes: Nick Nolte in "Warrior" and Albert Brooks in "Drive"
We included this category for the sole purpose of trying to draw more attention to "Warrior" and Nolte's scene-stealing, kick-to-the-gut/ tug-on-the-heartstrings performance. And Brooks' turn in "Drive" also deserves a nod while we're at it.
Best Supporting Actress
Shoo-ins: Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids," Octavia Spencer in "The Help," Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist" and Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
McCarthy and Spencer will likely be battling it out for this one come show time in January, although all the hype for "The Artist" could be great for Bejo. And Chastain deserves an award for being so good in so many movies this year.
Shoo-ins: Steven Spielberg for "War Horse," Martin Scorsese for "Hugo," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" and Angelina Jolie for "In the Land of Blood and Honey"
Should-bes: Alexander Payne for "The Descendants" and Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist"
Yes Angelina Jolie is a Shoo-in. As we mentioned before, the HFPA loves their star power, and Jolie's directorial debut is a powerful, unrelenting drama about the Bosnian war. A historically based war drama directed by an A-list actress? Shoo-in — as are Spielberg and Scorsese. We want Allen to be a shoo-in, along with Payne and Hazanavicius.
Best Original Score
Shoo-ins: John Williams for "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse," Howard Shore for "Hugo" and Ludovic Bource for "The Artist"
Should-bes: Michael Giacchino for "Super 8," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Cliff Martinez for "Drive" and Alexandre Desplat for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2"
Fellow score nerds can visit our list of the year's 10 best scores for further analysis, but Williams, Shore and Bource are likely front-runners. The should-bes are equally worthy; it's difficult to know what moved the HFPA musically this year.
Best Television Series - Drama
Should-bes: "Game of Thrones," "The Good Wife," "Homeland," "Breaking Bad" and "Revenge"
Thanks to the out-of-the-box, groundbreaking programming spearheaded by cable networks like HBO, and Showtime, basic cable networks have stepped up their game as well in recent years, bringing us fascinatingly complex characters and equally compelling story lines. This year's best of the best offers a mix of lust, power and deceit in "Thrones," "Revenge" and "The Good Wife" and paranoid, damaged antiheroes in "Homeland," "Breaking Bad."
Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Should-bes: "Modern Family," "30 Rock," "Glee," "The League" and "The New Girl"
"Modern Family" has been on an award-winning roll with its unique, talented and diverse cast, but "30 Rock" is still noteworthy, as rumors of a final season swirl. "Glee" has taken a tumble in the ratings but brings in the key 18-24 demographic, along with hit newbie "The New Girl." And FX's often R-rated, testosterone-fueled, consistently hilarious sitcom about a bunch of dudes who are obsessed with fantasy football deserves a nod for ingenuity, plain and simple.
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