Hollywood has been gripped by awards fever for weeks, but for the rest of the world, the hoopla begins this afternoon, with the first major red-carpet event of the season: the Golden Globe Awards, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
The gong industry is now in full cry. The weekend before last saw the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala. The New York Film Critics' Circle held its annual awards dinner last Tuesday. On Thursday the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced its shortlists, followed the next morning by the Academy Award nominations, moved forward to ensure they took place before the Globes.
Hours later, Ben Affleck took home the Best Director and Best Picture prizes from the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, for his Iran hostage drama Argo. Affleck had been left off the list for Best Director at next month's Oscars. "I would like to thank the Academy," he said as he picked up his gong. "Just kidding, this is the one that counts!"
The Golden Globes don't quite "count" like an Oscar does, but they remain unique, setting themselves apart from their more austere counterpart, not least by serving booze to their guests. By splitting their awards into separate categories for Drama and for Musical or Comedy, the Globes allow films overlooked by the Academy to have their day in the sun. And by honouring movies and television on the same evening, they force the film industry to rub shoulders with its increasingly serious screen rival.
This year's awards season is an open field. While the top awards went to Affleck and Argo last Friday, the New York Film Critics' Circle gave its Best Director and Best Picture prizes to Kathryn Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty, her film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. And though the two directors are in the running for Golden Globes, neither was nominated for an Oscar.
Both ceremonies seem likely to be dominated by Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's film about the final days of the 16th President's life, which is in the running for seven Golden Globes and 12 Oscars, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis: the sole runaway favourite in any big category.
British-made movies may enjoy a good showing in the musical or comedy categories, with Les Miserables contesting Best Picture with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Hopes will be high in the TV categories, too, where Downton Abbey, The Hour and Episodes have been nominated. Damian Lewis is up for Best Actor for Homeland, for the second year in a row.
Australia will be following the fortunes of Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman in acting categories.
The Globes are awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association founded in the 1940s by a group of Los Angeles-based journalists who hoped it might afford them readier access to studios and stars.
The hosting duties this year are with Saturday Night Live alumnae Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Many look to the Globes to predict the Academy Awards, yet the Best Picture Oscar has gone to a Globe-winning film just twice in the last eight years.
Golden Globes Key awards
Best film: Drama
*Life of Pi
*Zero Dark Thirty
Best actor: Drama
*Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
*Richard Gere, Arbitrage
*John Hawkes, The Sessions
*Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
*Denzel Washington, Flight
Best actress: Drama
*Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
*Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
*Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
*Naomi Watts, The Impossible
*Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
Best film: Comedy or Musical
*The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
*Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
*Silver Linings Playbook
Best actress: Comedy or Musical
*Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
*Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
*Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
*Maggie Smith, Quartet
*Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
Best actor: Comedy or Musical
*Jack Black, Bernie
*Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
*Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
*Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
*Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
*Ben Affleck, Argo
*Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
*Ang Lee, Life of Pi
*Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
*Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Cecil B. DeMille Award
Best series: Drama
Best Series: Comedy or Musical
*The Big Bang Theory
Best actor: Drama
*Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
*Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
*Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
*Jon Hamm, Mad Men
*Damian Lewis, Homeland
Best actress: Drama
*Connie Britton, Nashville
*Glenn Close, Damages
*Claire Danes, Homeland
*Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
*Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Best actor in a mini-series
*Kevin Costner, Hatfields and McCoys
*Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
*Woody Harrelson, Game Change
*Toby Jones, The Girl
*Clive Owen, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Best actress in a mini-series
*Nicole Kidman, Hemingway and Gellhorn
*Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum
*Sienna Miller, The Girl
*Julianne Moore, Game Change
*Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals
Best mini-series or film made for television
*Hatfields & McCoys