Golden Globe predictions: Who will win, who should win, and who could surprise us all

Hollywood doesn’t really need an excuse to throw a boozy party or spend three hours of handing out self-congratulatory prizes, but the Golden Globe Awards have always been a delightful, slightly strange tradition that combines both. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual bash returns Sunday night at 8 p.m. on NBC, in what many see as the official kick-off to Oscar season. Movie and TV stars will crush together around alcohol-stocked tables for an event where, as last year’s co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler put it, “the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television.”

Fey and Poehler, the BFFs and NBC comedy stars who drew raves after hosting last year’s show, are back to take their best (but not too mean) shots at the A-listers in the crowd. Last time, zingers targeted Taylor Swift’s love life, Quentin Tarantino’s general creepiness and the Kathryn Bigelow-“Zero Dark Thirty” controversy. (Poehler: “When it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.”)

Contrails from jet planes passing overhead intersect the National Museum of Art in Washington, Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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The Globes organization seems to pride itself on being the first to spot a hot new star — such as once crowning Jennifer Garner a winner for “Alias” — or predict which film with take home Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Either way, the night is always a little bit weird — though we can’t promise another epic Jodie Foster-style speech.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s major movie and TV categories, where we predict who will win, declare who should win, and speculate on the sneaky nominees that might surprise us all. Plus, a look back at some of the more bizarre winners in Globes history.

MOVIE — DRAMA

“12 Years a Slave”

“Captain Phillips”

“Gravity”

“Philomena”

“Rush”

O dds-on favorite: “12 Years a Slave”

Could go down to the wire between this and the lighter “Gravity,” although many think the brutal, compelling nature of the slavery epic will give it the ultimate edge.

Most deserving: “12 Years a Slave”

An unflinching look at an uncomfortable subject, the movie also helped spark many discussions. While Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in space were a gripping ride, the riveting “12 Years” should get the trophy.

Dark horse: “Philomena”

The BBC film is picking up steam in the last few weeks, doing surprisingly strong box-office numbers — and earning Dame Judi Dench much acclaim for her role as a woman searching for her long-lost son.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: “Avatar” in 2010

Yep, blue aliens beat “The Hurt Locker” and “Up in the Air.”

MOVIE — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

“American Hustle”

“Her”

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Nebraska”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Odds-on favorite: “American Hustle”

The term “comedy” is stretched to its limits in this year’s category, but of all the offerings, “Hustle” was the most fun, thanks to a stellar cast.

Most deserving: “American Hustle”

It’s hard to beat those knockout performances by Christian Bale and Amy Adams, not to mention the many fantastic hairstyles.

Dark horse: “Her”

Spike Jonze’s futuristic love story has gotten increasingly positive word-of-mouth support, while “Wall Street’s” portrayal of gleeful criminals has suffered serious backlash.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: “The Hangover” in 2010

That happened.

ACTOR IN A MOVIE – Drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

Odds-on favorite: Ejiofor

His exceptional, moving performance of a free man captured into slavery has garnered universal raves.

Most deserving: Ejiofor

It was impossible to take your eyes off him during the film.

Dark horse: McConaughey

Even before the movie was released, he made headlines for his extreme weight loss for a role as an AIDS patient; critics and audience members have been rightfully impressed with his work on screen.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Jim Carrey, “The Truman Show” in 1999

The movie just doesn’t strike us as typical awards bait.

ACTRESS IN A MOVIE – DRAMA

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”

Odds-on favorite: Blanchett

The awards-season favorite received plenty of acclaim playing a disgraced socialite in Woody Allen’s take on the fallout of the Bernie Madoff scandal.

Most deserving: Bullock

She was tasked to entertain the audience all by herself, sometimes in almost complete silence as she took a horrifying journey-gone-wrong through space.

Dark horse: Dench

Would it really be an awards show if it didn’t seem like Dench could win?

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Sharon Stone, “Casino” in 1995

She even beat Meryl Streep.

ACTOR IN A MOVIE — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

Odds-on favorite: Dern

He already swept up Best Actor at Cannes for his role in the poignant father-son road trip movie and has critical buzz on his side.

Most deserving: DiCaprio

The movie may be a lengthy spectacle celebrating financial greed, but DiCaprio steals every scene.

Dark horse: Bale

The opening scene where his character carefully arranges his comb-over sets up a strangely fascinating performance as a shifty, insecure con man.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat” in 2007

Well, that naked fight scene was pretty funny.

ACTRESS IN A MOVIE — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”

Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Odds-on favorite: Adams

Effortlessly switching in and out of accents; pulling off criminal deceit while remaining vulnerable; holding her own against Bale and company — all tricks that warrant a prize.

Most deserving: Louis-Dreyfus

She could put up a fight here, but we’re pretty sure she’s going to land a win for “Veep” (see below).

Dark horse: Streep

Because if there’s an award up for grabs, there’s at least a moderately good chance she’ll nab it.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Renee Zellweger, “Nurse Betty” in 2001

Definitely the only Globe win — and nomination — for that movie.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”

Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”

Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Odds-on favorite: Leto

In a strong performance as a transgendered woman with AIDS, Leto seems all but guaranteed to win in this category. Still, there’s a chance that Fassbender’s turn as an evil plantation owner may make voters take notice.

Most deserving: Leto

It’s a hard call, but Leto’s physical transformation was something to behold.

Dark horse: Cooper

He stood out as the squirrelly FBI agent in a talented cast, and he shines in just enough critical scenes to make him memorable.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Tom Cruise, “Magnolia” in 1999

Man, it’s been awhile since Tom Cruise was at an awards show.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Odds-on favorite: Lawrence

J-Law, the reigning America’s/Awards Show Sweetheart, may be on the verge of oversaturation, but her take on the melancholy, unintentionally funny housewife in “Hustle” will probably triumph.

Most deserving: Nyong’o

This newcomer made headlines in a devastating role playing a slave in her film debut, and she may have enough momentum to get the trophy.

Dark horse: Roberts

The former America’s Sweetheart still has lots of fans, many of them HFPA voters.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Natalie Portman, “Closer” in 2004

Oh, the days when a sexy, depressing love quadrangle could dominate awards season.

DIRECTOR

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”

Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Odds-on favorite: Cuarón

This is a tough category, although we think this will be Cuarón’s consolation prize for the film missing out on the other major prizes.

Most deserving: Cuarón

McQueen and Russell are serious contenders, but “Gravity” was unforgettably, visually stunning.

Dark horse: Payne

Hey, voters could split between the aforementioned three.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Peter Jackson, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2004

Was that movie even the best in the franchise?

TV

TV SERIES — DRAMA

“Breaking Bad” (AMC)

“Downton Abbey” (PBS)

“The Good Wife” (CBS)

“House of Cards” (Netflix)

“Masters of Sex” (Showtime)

Odds-on favorite: “Breaking Bad”

“Homeland” wrangled all the trophies last year, and now it’s not even nominated — perfect timing for the drug-centric drama to keep basking in the glow of its stellar final season.

Most deserving: “Breaking Bad”

Because really, who can stop thinking about those last two episodes?

Dark horse: “House of Cards”

The twisted political thriller had its flaws, but it broke new ground as Netflix’s first big hit.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: “Nip/Tuck” in 2004

The HFPA does love Ryan Murphy.

TV SERIES — COMEDY

“Girls” (HBO)

“Modern Family” (ABC)

“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)

Odds-on favorite: “Girls”

None of these shows had truly stand-out seasons, so the voters may as well just rely on last year’s choice and make the polarizing comedy a two-time winner.

Most deserving: “Parks and Recreation”

Consistently funny if not consistently hilarious in its sixth season, it’s time the series gets an overdue moment in the spotlight.

Dark horse: “The Big Bang Theory”

Besides perennial awards winner Jim Parsons, the popular comedy doesn’t really rack up many prizes. Maybe this could be the year to break tradition.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: “Ugly Betty” (ABC) in 2006

A cute show deserving of props, but it triumphed over the strongest year of “The Office,” among others.

ACTOR IN A TV SERIES — DRAMA

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)

Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan” (Showtime)

Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex” (Showtime)

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

James Spader, “The Blacklist” (NBC)

Odds-on favorite: Cranston

Really, that finale.

Most deserving: Cranston or Spacey

Spacey as a devious politician made it nearly impossible not to click on the next episode.

Dark horse: Spader.

He’s always creepy, but his shaved-head-international-criminal vibe on “Blacklist” just takes it to another level.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Kelsey Grammer, “Boss” (Starz) in 2011

Grammer and his low-rated Chicago politics series beat some stiff cable drama competition, causing even seasoned award show predictors to go, “Huh?”

ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES — DRAMA

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife” (CBS)

Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” (BBC America)

Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

Kerry Washington, “Scandal” (ABC)

Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Odds-on favorite: Washington

Though she lost out at the Emmys, the always exquisitely dressed actress is still on a hot streak as the star of ABC’s outrageous “Scandal” — and the Globes like to reward those who are overlooked.

Most deserving: Schilling

Netflix’s addictive “Orange” looked as if it would be a big contender, but Schilling (the sharp lead in an impressive ensemble) got the only nod for the dramedy, which was perhaps at a disadvantage being submitted in the crowded drama category.

Dark horse: Maslany

You could practically hear the Internet explode with happiness when the Canadian actress (who plays six characters in the niche hit “Orphan Black”) got the nod.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Keri Russell, “Felicity” (WB) in 1999

The HFPA loves to recognize young, talented ingénues, as they did with a rare show of support for a WB series.

ACTOR IN A TV SERIES — COMEDY

Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development” (Netflix)

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” (Showtime)

Michael J. Fox, “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC)

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

Andy Samberg, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)

Odds-on favorite: Fox

Unless last year’s winner, Don Cheadle, pulls a surprise repeat, experts are certain that Globes voters will happily welcome back one of their longtime favorites — even if his new show is kind of a flop.

Most deserving: Bateman

He’s the glue that ably held together the cult hit’s resurrection on Netflix, thrilling (and momentarily quieting) diehard viewers still angry that the show got canceled.

Dark horse: Samberg

The Globes have crowned his freshman Fox comedy the year’s new “It” show, so it wouldn’t be completely shocking to see the goofy actor taking the prize.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes” (Showtime) in 2012

Even he seemed surprised.

ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES — COMEDY

Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl” (Fox)

Lena Dunham, “Girls” (HBO)

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)

Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

Odds-on favorite: Louis-Dreyfus

Globes voters traditionally love those premium cable comedies, and it’s unlikely that Dunham will be a two-time winner.

Most deserving: Poehler

Consistently kills it on the wacky NBC sitcom yet is never rewarded, even when hosting the actual awards show.

Dark horse: Poehler

Okay, since she’s still riding high from last year’s A-plus reviews as host, maybe she really can take home the win.

Most random winner in the past 20 years: Teri Hatcher, “Desperate Housewives” (ABC) in 2005

Nothing against Hatcher or the underrated “Housewives” but was she even the best on the show?

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