Will the Golden Globes nominations bring focus to an awards season that's so far been blurry?
The best-picture contenders are many, with early honors being given by various groups to the space odyssey "Gravity," the slave epic "12 Years a Slave," the futuristic romance "Her," the con-artist caper "American Hustle" and the folk tale "Inside Llewyn Davis."
Also in the mix: the finance world comedy "The Wolf of Wall Street," the Somali pirate tale "Captain Phillips," the HIV drama "Dallas Buyers Club," the father-son road trip "Nebraska," the making-of "Mary Poppins" story "Saving Mr. Banks," the Civil rights history "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "August: Osage County," the starry adaptation of Tracy Letts' prize-winning play.
Perhaps we'll get more clarity on the season when the nominations for the 71st annual Golden Globes are announced Thursday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana and Aziz Ansari will be on hand to read the results.
Since the Globes divide many of their categories in two, between drama and comedy or musical, there's a lot of room for all of the above movies — even if some films will have to contort themselves to slide into one category or the other.
This year's comedy competition could be the strongest field ever for the Globes. Though usually an easier pathway to a nomination, the group potentially includes David O. Russell's "American Hustle," Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," Spike Jonze's "Her" and the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis."
Bur clarity isn't always provided by the Golden Globes. The awards and their boozy telecast are known for a desire to attract stars, even if their films aren't quite up to snuff. (It will be a long time before the HFPA lives down its nominations for Johnny Depp's "The Tourist.") This year's ceremony on Jan. 12 will again be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
The last two years, one of the Globes' best-picture winners went on to top the Academy Awards. Last year, the Globes awarded Ben Affleck's "Argo" best picture for drama. The year before that, the silent film ode "The Artist" won best picture for a comedy.
There may be more clarity than we think come Thursday morning.