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.”)
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 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.
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
“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?