While HFPA members were reportedly fond of "Hacksaw Ridge" and "Lion," this one looks to be a contest between two critical favorites, Kenneth Lonergan's "Manchester by the Sea" and Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight." ("Hell or High Water" is the fifth nominee.) When there's a film in the running that is a clear favorite of critics' groups -- "Boyhood" and "The Social Network" being two recent examples -- Globes voters tend to follow suit. For that reason, I'll go against most prognosticators and say the HFPA will pick the terrific indie film that has won the most critics awards over the terrific indie film that would narrowly get my vote.
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
This one was a no-brainer before the first nominating ballot was cast. "20th Century Women" is inventive and touching, "Deadpool" is a delicious surprise, "Florence Foster Jenkins" is thoroughly entertaining and "Sing Street" is utterly charming -- but the dazzling musical "La La Land" is the kind of movie for which this category was designed.
Prediction: "La La Land"
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
While Andrew Garfield could be a surprise pick for "Hacksaw Ridge," this seems to be a race between two performances that couldn't be more dissimilar: Casey Affleck's subtle, quiet one in "Manchester by the Sea" and Denzel Washington's thunderous one in "Fences." (Also nominated: Joel Edgerton for "Loving" and Viggo Mortensen for "Captain Fantastic.") My gut says they'll be impressed and charmed by Denzel, but my head says they'll follow the lead of most critics and go with Casey.
Prediction: Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
There's a real wild card in this category: "Elle" star Isabelle Huppert, the legendary French actress who's never before been nominated for a Globe despite a celebrated film career of more than 40 years. Will Globe voters, who represent international outlets, take the opportunity to reward one of the foremost international stars? I think they just might, although in the end Natalie Portman's uncanny performance as an iconic First Lady Jackie Kennedy may just be undeniable.
Prediction: Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Ryan Gosling is a singing, dancing movie star at the heart of an irresistible song-and-dance spectacle. But if voters are determined to spread the wealth, they might go for "Florence Foster Jenkins" star Hugh Grant (overdue) or "Deadpool" lead Ryan Reynolds (hot) instead. (Sorry, Jonah Hill and Colin Farrell.)
Prediction: Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
If "La La Land" wins for musical or comedy, and Ryan Gosling wins for musical/comedy actor, could Emma Stone possibly not win in this category? Don't bet on it -- Annette Bening ("20th Century Women") and Meryl Streep ("Florence Foster Jenkins") are certifiable legends doing great work, but Stone is the glorious heart of her movie. (And Lily Collins and Hailee Steinfeld will have other chances.)
Prediction: Emma Stone, "La La Land"
Best Supporting Actor in Any Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali is only in the first third of "Moonlight," but he brings such enormous heart to the film that he has been winning one critics' award after another. His streak isn't about to stop at the Globes, Jeff Bridges ("Hell or High Water") and Dev Patel ("Lion") notwithstanding. (Other nominees: Simon Helberg for "Florence Foster Jenkins" and Aaron Taylor Johnson for "Nocturnal Animals.")
Prediction: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Best Supporting Actress in Any Motion Picture
Viola Davis ("Fences") and Michelle Williams ("Manchester by the Sea") both have enormous impact in two wrenching dramas -- Davis with so much screen time she almost qualifies as lead, Williams with only a handful of scenes. They're the two front runners here, and Davis is such a force of nature that voters will find it hard to deny her. (Other nominees: Naomie Harris for "Moonlight," Nicole Kidman for "Lion" and Octavia Spencer for "Hidden Figures.")
Prediction: Viola Davis, "Fences"
Best Director - Motion Picture
The Best Director winner usually comes from the drama side, and I'm really not comfortable with how many "La La Land" wins I'm predicting. But Damien Chazelle's achievement in creating a wondrous modern musical so singular that it should overpower the subtler accomplishments of Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight") and Kenneth Lonergan ("Manchester by the Sea"). "Hacksaw Ridge" director Mel Gibson is the real joker in this deck, with an over-the-top movie and a narrative of redemption that some voters just might love. (Tom Ford, not so much.)
Prediction: Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
HFPA voters love Tom Ford and "Nocturnal Animals." A vote for Taylor Sheridan's "Hell or High Water" could be a timely endorsement of a grim state-of-the-union message. But this is probably between Damien Chazelle's "La La Land," Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" and Kenneth Lonergan's "Manchester by the Sea." You can almost flip a coin, but I'm guessing that the writing award goes to the accomplished playwright.
Prediction: Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Motion Picture - Animated
While "Kubo and the Two Strings" is easily Lakia's best shot at winning its first Golden Globe, "Zootopia" is Disney/Pixar's shot at winning its ninth in the category's 11-year existence. And Disney has the advantage of a timely story of tolerance and co-existence trumping fear-mongering. (Also nominated: "Moana," "My Life as a Zucchini" and "Sing.")
Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language
If they vote for "Elle," the Globes can show that they're bolder than the Academy by going for a transgressive film that didn't even make the Oscar shortlist. If they vote for "Toni Erdmann," they can celebrate a crowd-pleasing film seven weeks before the Academy will probably do the same thing. In the end, though, "Elle" is probably just too disturbing and divisive. (Also nominated: Nominees: "Divines," "Neruda" and "The Salesman.")
Prediction: "Toni Erdmann"
Best Original Score - Motion Picture
My instinct is that they'll give both music awards to "La La Land," but I'm going to chicken out here and say that just enough voters will focus on Justin Hurwitz's songs over his score. "Moonlight" is an adventurous alternative, but "Arrival" might have just the right touch of drama to attract voters who don't want to give "La La Land" too much. (Also nominated: "Lion" and "Hidden Figures.")
Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Justin Timberlake ("Trolls"), Stevie Wonder ("Sing"), Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Moana") and Iggy Pop ("Gold") are all nominated in this category, and in a normal year I could see any of them winning. (Well, Iggy would probably always be a long shot.) But the centerpiece song from "La La Land" can't really lose, can it?
Prediction: "City of Stars" from "La La Land"
Best Television Series - Drama
Last year's winner, "Mr. Robot," wasn't even nominated this year. "Game of Thrones" has never won in this category at the Globes, but its two consecutive Emmy wins could make it seem like old hat to the HFPA. The race between four new shows -- "The Crown," "Stranger Things," "This Is Us" and "Westworld" -- could go any way, but the classy look of "The Crown" may tip the scales.
Prediction: "The Crown"
Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Jon Hamm won a valedictory Globe last year for the final season of "Mad Men," which put Rami Malek one year behind schedule to get his Globe for "Mr. Robot," which was named best drama series. Voters will probably make good this year, in a category where it's not unusual to win on the second or third nomination - although since the "Mr. Robot" heat has cooled off a bit, watch out for Billy Bob Thornton ("Goliath") or Bob Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul"). (Also nominated: Matthew Rhys for "The Americans" and Liev Schreiber for "Ray Donovan.")
Prediction: Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot"
Best Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Claire Foy ("The Crown"), Winona Ryder ("Stranger Things") and Evan Rachel Wood ("Westworld") have the hot new shows; Caitriona Balfe ("Outlander") and Keri Russell ("The Americans") have the returning shows that haven't yet gotten their just desserts. I can imagine almost every one of them winning, but I suspect that "The Crown" has the momentum to put Foy over the top.
Prediction: Claire Foy, "The Crown"
Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Since 2000, 13 different series have won in this category, and nothing has repeated since "Glee" in 2009 and 2010. That's not good news for last year's surprise winner, "Mozart in the Jungle." But it's very good news for "Atlanta," which came along at the right time to grab momentum just as Globes voting was about to begin. (Other nominees: "Black-ish," "Transparent" and "Veep.")
Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Sorry, Jeffrey Tambor ("Transparent") and Gael García Bernal ("Mozart in the Jungle"): Globes voters haven't given us a repeat winner in the category this decade. The last five winners have taken the trophy during their shows' first seasons, and Donald Glover is the ideal candidate to continue that streak. (Other nominees: Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish" and Nick Nolte, "Graves.")
Prediction: Donald Glover, "Atlanta"
Best Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") is the epitome of a musical/comedy actress. Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep") is TV's reigning queen of comedy. Tracee Ellis-Ross' "Black-ish" is overdue. But with six nominees to further split the vote and make the winning total even smaller, this could well be a category where voters go for the newest and freshest -- which, in this case, means Issa Rae and "Insecure." (Also nominated: Sarah Jessica Parker for "Divorce" and Gina Rodriguez, for "Jane the Virgin.")
Prediction: Issa Rae, "Insecure"
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Yes, the Globes like to be first. And yes, "The People v. O.J. Simpson" has already won just about every award there is to win. But no, neither of those things matter. It was the television event of the year, and it's going to win here, too, over "American Crime," "The Dresser," "The Night Manager" and "The Night Of."
Prediction: "The People v. O.J. Simpson"
Best Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Here's a category where the fact that "The People v. O.J. Simpson" has already won so much might hurt Courtney B. Vance a little -- maybe, just maybe, voters might want to award Tom Hiddleston for "The Night Manager," or one of the two nominees (Riz Ahmed and John Turturro) from "The Night Of." Let's go out on a limb and say they do just that. (Also nominated: Bryan Cranston for "All the Way.")
Prediction: Tom Hiddleston, "The Night Manager"
Best Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
You can go back and re-read everything I wrote about why "O.J." was going to win in the the limited-series category. It applies to Sarah Paulson here, too. (Also nominated: Felicity Huffman, "American Crime," Riley Keough, "The Girlfriend Experience," Charlotte Rampling, "London Spy" and Kerry Washington, "Confirmation.")
Prediction: Sarah Paulson, "The People v. O.J. Simpson"
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
While Sterling K. Brown ("The People v. O.J. Simpson") and Hugh Laurie ("The Night Manager") would probably be duking it out if this were a miniseries-only category, John Lithgow had a bigger platform with "The Crown," and will likely repeat his Critics' Choice win. (Also nominated: Christian Slater, "Mr. Robot" and John Travolta, "The People v. O.J. Simpson.")
Prediction: John Lithgow, "The Crown"
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Viewers were divided on "Westworld," but Thandie Newton was enough of a standout to make this the easy category in which to reward that big, brazen HBO newcomer. Chrissy Metz might have had a better shot without competition from her "This Is Us" castmate Mandy Moore. (Also nominated: Olivia Colman for "The Night Manager" and Lena Headey for "Game of Thrones.")