Golden Globes launch Hollywood into awards season

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The Golden Globes remain Hollywood’s second-biggest film honors. Yet they are not the weather vane they used to be for predicting which film might triumph at the Academy Awards.

The 68th annual Globes, whose nominations come out Tuesday morning, will feature 10 best-picture nominees, five each in the dramatic category and the musical or comedy category.

The Oscars switched from five best-picture nominees to 10 last year and will continue with that doubled lineup, so plenty of overlap can be expected between Globe and Oscar contenders.

But only once in the last six years has the winner of one of the Globe best-film prizes gone on to win best picture at the Oscars — 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire.”

That came after a stretch of eight-straight years when a Globe winner in either the dramatic or musical-comedy category went on to claim the best-picture Oscar.

With two acclaimed dramas — the British monarchy tale “The King’s Speech” and the Facebook story “The Social Network” — considered front-runners this time, there are prospects of another divergent year between the Globes and the Oscars, whose nominations come out Jan. 25, nine days after the Globes are presented.

“The Social Network” already has snagged two key prizes as both Los Angeles and New York film critics groups picked it as the year’s best movie.

Other possible Globe drama contenders include the sci-fi smash “Inception,” the ballet tale “Black Swan,” the Western “True Grit,” the boxing saga “The Fighter” and the survival story “127 Hours.”

Among musical and comedy prospects are the lesbian-family tale “The Kids Are All Right,” the Lewis Carroll fantasy “Alice in Wonderland,” the song-and-dance extravaganza “Burlesque,” the curmudgeon chronicle “Barney’s Version” and the romances “Greenberg,” ”Love & Other Drugs,” ”How Do You Know” and “Cyrus.”

The Globes and Oscars typically line up better on acting winners. Last year, “Avatar” won best drama at the Globes and “The Hurt Locker” took best picture at the Oscars. But all four Oscar acting recipients — Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side,” Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart,” Mo’Nique for “Precious” and Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds” — also won prizes at the Globes first.

Clear favorites have emerged this season for best actor (Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”) and supporting actor (Christian Bale in “The Fighter”).

Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right” and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” could wind up in a two-woman race for best actress, while the supporting-actress category is up for grabs among prospects that include Amy Adams and Melissa Leo for “The Fighter,” Helena Bonham Carter for “The King’s Speech” and 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld for “True Grit.”

No matter how the two awards shows line up on winners, the stars generally can count on a good time at the Globes, a more laid-back, dinner-and-drinks affair than the stately Oscars.

The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 85 critics and reporters for overseas outlets. Actors Katie Holmes, Blair Underwood and Josh Duhamel will announce nominees.

Robert De Niro, an eight-time Globe nominee who won a best-actor prize there for “Raging Bull,” will receive the group’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.

Ricky Gervais is returning as host of the Globes ceremony, which will air live Jan. 16 on NBC.