USA TODAY movie critic Claudia Puig predicts who will and should win Golden Globe awards from among the nominees at the 71st annual show (NBC, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), to be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Motion picture, drama
12 Years a Slave
• Will win/should win: 12 Years a Slave
Given how profoundly moving and impeccably acted this film is — and the gravity of its subject matter — it likely will edge out its toughest competition, Gravity. It's a beautifully rendered film about the ugliest period in American history. With its blend of uncompromising authenticity and tempered sense of uplift, 12 Years is the clear-cut choice for best drama.
Motion picture, musical or comedy
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
• Will win: American Hustle
• Should win: Nebraska
Neither of these movies are comedies in any traditional sense, but both have darkly comic elements. While Hustle is an entertaining tale with engaging performances, Nebraska is a masterful blend of wit and drama with superb performances, gorgeous cinematography and a pitch-perfect screenplay.
Actress in a motion picture, drama
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Kate Winslet, Labor Day
• Will win/should win: Blanchett
The early momentum has been with Blanchett and her latter-day Blanche DuBois in Woody Allen's latest film The groundswell is intact, though Saving Mr. Banks' Thompson is a formidable competitor Still, the deluded, tragic and shockingly self-asorbed Jasmine is the juiciest of roles, and Blanchett plays it fabulously.
Actor in a motion picture, 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
• Will win/should win: Redford
Redford''s essentially silent performance as a solo sailor is his best in decades and the most captivating in a very competitive category. What the veteran actor is able to convey about his beleaguered character with gestures, facial expressions and physicality is staggering. He's an iconic movie star, which is something the Hollywood Foreign Press Association likes to honor. This will likely be the most closely contested category.
Actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
• Will win: Streep
• Should win: Louis-Dreyfus
Streep is a perennial awards winner and the most admired actress in America, so she's almost always at the head of the pack of nominees. But hers is a scenery-chewing role that, while riveting, lacks subtlety. Louis-Dreyfus' believable, multilayered performance in Enough Said digs deeper and conveys humor, wistfulness, charm, awkwardness and regret.
Actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her
• Will win: DiCaprio
• Should win: Dern
The HFPA is notorious for choosing razzle-dazzle over substance and movie-star turns over character studies, so DiCaprio is the obvious choice for his entertaining and occasionally clownish portrayal of a Wall Street weasel defined by excess and entitled lawlessness. DiCaprio's character quickly fades from memory, however. Dern's grizzled curmudgeon is haunting, complex and raw, never caricatured or predictable — and leaves an indelible impression.
Supporting actress in a motion picture
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August; Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
• Will win: Lawrence
• Should win: Nyong'o
With her seemingly boundless vivacity and natural charm, the prodigiously talented Lawrence is a barrel of fun at awards ceremonies. And her role in American Hustle capitalized on that lively appeal. But the more multilayered performance is that of Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave. The Kenyan actress makes an astonishingly powerful impression as Patsey, a young slave preyed upon and abused by a cruel alcoholic slave owner. It is a memorable and deeply moving portrayal.
Supporting actor in a motion picture
Bradley Cooper,American Hustle
Michael Fassbender,12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto,Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi,Captain Phillips
• Will win/should win: Leto
Leto disappears into the role of Rayon, the vulnerable HIV-positive transsexual in Dallas Buyers Club, but his was no mere physical transformation. The actor created a multidimensional portrait that nearly stole the film, despite Matthew McConaughey's powerful lead performance. It's the kind of role awards were made for.
Director, motion picture
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
• Will win/should win: Cuarón
The breathtaking technical achievements of Cuarón in his dazzling 3-D space adventure make him the clear-cut favorite. Directing a film in which a pair of astronauts look so convincingly, dizzyingly adrift in outer space is a spectacular feat. A visionary filmmaker, Cuarón probably deserves the award for the 12-minute opening action sequence alone. But everything that comes after induces a sense of wonderment rarely experienced in films.
Animated feature film
Despicable Me 2
• Will win/should win: Frozen
In addition to its spectacular box office success, Frozen, a tale of princess sisters in an icy world, has gorgeous visuals, charming humor and remarkably catchy songs to recommend it. It wasn't a great year for animation until Frozen swirled into theaters in November, and it will win the trophy, mittened hands down.