Golden Globes could provide traction in Oscar best-picture race

Without a runaway favourite for this year's top Academy Award, a handful of key contenders will be looking to Sunday night's 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards for a little traction on the road to the Oscars.

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Among the nominees with the most to gain from a best-picture win when the Globes are handed out in Beverly Hills, California, are "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Revenant" and "Spotlight" in the drama category, and "The Big Short" and "The Martian" in the comedy category.

The five films are the only Globe best picture nominees in either category to also appear on the Producers Guild of America's list of 10 best picture nominees announced this past week. There has never been an Oscar best picture winner that hasn't also been on the PGA's list of best picture nominees since the guild started handing out awards in 1990.

Other nominees in the Globes' top two categories this year are the dramas "Carol" and "Room," and "Joy," "Spy" and "Trainwreck" in the comedy category. None were among the PGA's top nods.

Also not appearing on the PGA list and conspicuously absent from this year's Globes nominees is J.J. Abrams' galactic juggernaut "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which on Wednesday, became the highest-grossing movie of all time in North America. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Golden Globes, announced its nominees a few days before the first industry screening of "Star Wars" in mid-December.

This will surely be one of the things acerbic host Ricky Gervais needles the Hollywood Foreign Press Association about at the Beverly Hilton Hotel ceremony, which runs from 8-11 p.m. EST, telecast live on NBC.

Gervais, who will host for the fourth time after a three-year stint by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, said on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" last week that booze gives him the courage to make his wince-inducing jokes.

"If I didn't drink, I wouldn't be brave enough to say some of the things I'm going to say," Gervais said.

He also blamed alcohol in a pre-emptive apology posted on Twitter last week: "Because I can see the future, I'd like to apologise now for the things I said at next week's Golden Globes. I was drunk..."

After a 10-year ratings high three years ago, the Golden Globes' viewership has dipped slightly since, with an audience of 19.3 million tuning in last year.

That, though, is still very strong for the Golden Globes, which have worked to shed an image of eccentric selections made by a group of little-known international journalists. The Globes have instead grown into one of the most popular award show broadcasts of the year, thanks to increasingly credible nominees, its trademark relaxed atmosphere and its unique position as a major awards show that honours both film and television.

Netflix earned a leading eight nods on the TV side, where nominations are scattered across streaming services, broadcast and cable. Six shows come in tied for the most nominations with three: "Fargo," "Mr. Robot," "Outlander," "Transparent," "American Crime" and "Wolf Hall."

Presenters at Sunday night's Golden Globes will include Tom Hanks, Helen Mirren, Michael Keaton, Amy Adams, Kurt Russell, Lady Gaga, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Redmayne, Kate Hudson, Channing Tatum and Kate Bosworth. Also presenting will be Mel Gibson, who is returning to the Hollywood spotlight after keeping a low profile for almost a decade, following an explosive drunken-driving arrest and public custody dispute.


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