Los Angeles is shivering through a rare cold front, but it's heating up outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel as the stars begin arriving for this year's Golden Globe Awards.
Among those hitting the red-carpet early are nominees like Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Amy Adams ("The Master"), Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Lena Dunham ("Girls"), and Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables") as well as such top TV and movie names as Debra Messing (pictured), Glenn Close, Megan Fox and Judd Apatow.
The brainchild of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globes have courted controversy for decades over what some critics complain are lax ethical rules that turn a blind eye to voters who accept gifts and special treatment from studios looking to curry favor for their awards hopefuls.
Not helping matters has been a series of head-scratching decisions over the years, such as the 2010 nominations of two critically loathed films "Burlesque" and "The Tourist" for top awards. The HFPA comprises roughly 80 voters versus the more than 5,000 people who vote for Oscars.
Also read: Complete List of Nominees
The open bar in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, however, means that the awards show is looser and often funnier than the more solemn environment that envelops the Academy Awards.
The success of the show as a television event has been aided by the HFPA's decision to tap edgier comedians to emcee the evening. Taking over from Ricky Gervais, who often mocked the HFPA and its questionable taste in three buzz-worthy stints as host, will be the tag-team of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.
Among the films vying for top honors this year are "Lincoln," "Life of Pi" and "Django Unchained." For awards watchers, this year's ceremony has the added enticement of seeing whether "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty," two films that saw their directors -- Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, respectively -- snubbed by Oscars voters last week, will shake off the shock and dominate the evening.
At last Thursday's Critics' Choice Awards, audience members applauded loudly as Affleck accepted top honors for his role helming "Argo" and Bigelow was thanked by a tearful Jessica Chastain as she won a statue for her starring role in the thriller.
Unlike the Oscars, the Globes honor the best of television as well. That means that the casts of "Homeland" and "Mad Men" will also be on hand to accept hardware.