LOS ANGELES — The Oscars are almost two months away, but already Hollywood is in the grip of awards fever.
The Golden Globe Awards will be handed out Sunday, four days before the Oscar nominations are announced, in a week in which the focus of so much Hollywood effort will be richly rewarded or shunned.
Serious film types often dismiss the Globes as largely irrelevant to the inner workings of Hollywood because the awards are chosen by a small and self-selected group of foreign film journalists, few of whom are credentialed to major media organizations.
But that hasn't stopped the show from becoming one of the best-known Hollywood events of the year, which succeeds in attracting all the major stars and is capable of giving winning movies a powerful boost with audiences.
Since 1956, the Globes have been honoring the best of television and film, unlike the Oscars, which focus only on movies.
The Golden Globes have had a haphazard record of predicting Oscar success. That is unlikely to change this year.
But with critics acclaiming 2013's crop of movies one of the most award-worthy in recent memory, there's bound to be significant overlap.
That augurs well for 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle, the movies that came out on top of the nominations, earning seven nods apiece.
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes choose separate pictures for best drama and for best comedy or musical.
That means director Steve McQueen's haunting tale of a free black man kidnapped into slavery in pre-Civil War America is the clear favorite to win the award for best drama, and David O. Russell's finely crafted caper about an FBI sting operation is just as sure to win for best comedy or musical.
The odds are best reflected in a closely watched poll of experts conducted by entertainment awards site GoldDerby.com. Of the 19 experts it asked, 18 predicted victory for American Hustle, with a single dissenter going for the poignant tale Nebraska.
The other nominees are Her, about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system; Inside Llewyn Davis, a rom-com set in the folk music scene of 1960s New York; and The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese's keenly observed critique of the excesses of the finance industry.
Similarly, 14 of GoldDerby's experts chose 12 Years a Slave as best drama, with the other five going for Alfonso Cuarón's brilliantly made space thriller Gravity. The other nominees are Captain Phillips, a maritime thriller; the Formula 1 epic Rush; and Philomena, about a woman's quest to track down the baby she was forced to give up for adoption.
If such equations take much of the suspense out of the show, there are plenty of other reasons to tune in to the broadcast. Last year, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler earned some of the strongest raves ever for hosts of an awards show with their charming, down-to-earth and often hilarious stint as co-hosts.
In contrast to other recent Oscar and Golden Globe hosts, they seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as many in the audience and had no need to descend into vulgarities or character assassinations in an effort to induce laughter. Fey and Poehler are returning Sunday night.
Film fans also won't want to miss the cavalcade of glamorous stars who will be strutting the red carpet and enjoying the endless supply of fancy champagne and a gourmet dinner made with local California ingredients.
This year' faces are likely to include Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, who are up for best actress in a comedy or musical; and Amy Adams, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Meryl Streep, who are competing for the best dramatic actress prize.
Among the men, Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar Isaac and Joaquin Phoenix are the nominees for best actor in a comedy or musical, while Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey and Robert Redford are vying for the dramatic acting award. Redford has never been nominated for an acting Golden Globe, so now, at age 77, it might finally be his time to shine.