Published January 12. 2012 4:00AM Updated January 12. 2012 1:15PM
The odds-on most likely result at Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony? Ricky Gervais will offend many, many movie stars.
Beyond exactly how Gervais will top last year's deliciously uncomfortable comedy, interest in which actors will actually win awards pales in comparison.
But, truth be told, the Globes have become a harbinger of the Oscar nominations — instead of the easy-to-mock awards they used to be years ago.
So it's worth paying attention to what's up for a Globe and what's going to win. Let's take a look at what awaits:
Best motion picture, drama
Nominees: "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo," "The Ides of March," "Moneyball," "War Horse"
"War Horse" will win. It's the only movie here that has the epic sweep and old-school visual panache that the Hollywood Foreign Press — and Oscar voters — love. Plus, it's Spielberg.
Best motion picture, comedy
Nominees: "50/50," "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "Midnight in Paris," "My Week with Marilyn"
"The Artist," all the way. And let's not waste time futzing around: it'll win the Oscar for best picture, too. I'm just sorry "Win Win" didn't make it into the nominee list here — such a great, underappreciated film.
Best performance by an actor in a drama
Nominees: George Clooney, "The Descendants," Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar," Michael Fassbender, "Shame," Ryan Gosling, "The Ides of March," Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
Is this the dreamboat category, or what? So I guess we viewers are all winners. Anyway ... Clooney's turn in "The Descendants" didn't require much stretching, but you can never underestimate the hypnotic effect that the actor has on the Hollywood Foreign Press. He could walk off with the Golden Globe. But better performances are out there. DiCaprio did his most formidable acting ever as J. Edgar Hoover. Best of all was Pitt. He should win for his wry, understated turn as baseball general manager Billy Beane.
Best performance by an actress in a drama
Nominees: Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs," Viola Davis, "The Help," Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," Meryl Streep, "Iron Lady," Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
I'm at a distinct disadvantage here. Only two of these movies have played around here, so I can't guess how Close, Streep and Swinton might stack up. I will say that I'd be very happy if either Davis or Mara wins. Both performances are master classes in acting without words. Their best scenes are when they eloquently express their character's emotions through their eyes and their physicality.
Best performance by an actor in a comedy
Nominees: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist," Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard," Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "50/50," Ryan Gosling, "Crazy, Stupid, Love," Owen Wilson, "Midnight in Paris"
Jean Dujardin is a shoo-in. But kudos to the Golden Globes for nominating Gleeson for the Irish indie "The Guard," a pitch-black comedy. Gleeson commands the screen as a policeman who's by turns blustery and sly, good and bad.
Best performance by an actress in a comedy
Nominees: Jodie Foster, "Carnage," Charlize Theron, "Young Adult," Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids," Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn," Kate Winslet, "Carnage"
I predict Williams will sashay away with the award for her Marilyn Monroe impersonation, but I'd cast my vote for Wiig, who fully fleshed out her performance as a woman melting down as her best friend heads toward marriage.
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role
Nominees: Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn," Albert Brooks, "Drive," Jonah Hill, "Moneyball," Viggo Mortensen, "A Dangerous Method," Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Here's a category that could go any way. Well, Jonah Hill shouldn't waste time polishing an acceptance speech, but any of the other actors could walk away with the prize. I predict Plummer will be the victor.
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role
Nominees: Berenice Bojo, "The Artist," Jessica Chastain, "The Help," Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs," Octavia Spencer, "The Help," Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"
Octavia! Octavia! Octavia! If she loses, it'll be to Bojo for "The Artist."