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Golden Globes gala begins, 'A Star Is Born' expected to shine
[LOS ANGELES] Hollywood descended on the red carpet Sunday for the Golden Globes, with hit musical romance "A Star Is Born" the favorite to win big at the first and sassiest gala of the annual awards season.
Under a bright California sun, Tinseltown's A-listers worked the entertainment press and cameras for the first time this awards season at the Beverly Hilton, in the run-up to the all-important Oscars on February 24.
Hosting the gala -- which began at 5:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday) -- were actress Sandra Oh and comedian Andy Samberg. As the only awards show where booze is served, the evening is usually more colorful than showbiz's other big nights.
After the usual part-hit-part-miss repartee between the presenters, Samberg paid tribute to the diversity among the slate of films up for awards, singling out "Black Panther," "Crazy Rich Asians," "If Beale Street Could Talk" and several other movies praised for their inclusivity.
"And they are not just here tonight because they resonated with audiences Hollywood often ignores," he said.
"They are here because they told stories that resonated with everyone. And that is truly a beautiful thing."
Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" leads the film nominations with six, but "Star" -- and its power duo of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper -- has five and is the movie with the most buzz.
Most critics predict it will take home the coveted best drama film honors.
"'A Star Is Born' has everything going for it, including box office and critical success," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at industry data firm Comscore, told AFP.
But he cautioned that the Globes -- which are handed out by the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association -- are notoriously unpredictable.
"This year's nominees across the major categories are all incredibly deserving, so anything could happen," Dergarabedian said.
This year, the Globes come at the start of voting for Oscar nominations, and while they are not always a clear predictor of Academy Award success, they are a bellwether of momentum.
- Douglas an early winner -
The first awards of the night went to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" for best animated feature and Hollywood veteran Michael Douglas, who has impressed in Netflix TV comedy "The Kominsky Method."
It was a third acting win for the star, who dedicated his statuette to his 102-year-old father, one-time matinee idol and Tinseltown legend Kirk Douglas.
If there is a sure bet on Sunday night, it is that Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," a cinematic ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, will win for best foreign film. He is also up for best director.
"I did a couple of films in Hollywood and felt I was losing my way," Cuaron said Saturday at a symposium featuring the directors of all five nominated foreign films.
"I had to reconnect with why I wanted to make cinema in the first place," he said of the very personal "Roma."
Competing with the Mexican filmmaker for best director are Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman"), Peter Farrelly ("Green Book"), Adam McKay ("Vice") and Cooper, who made his debut behind the camera with "Star," directing himself.
For the experts polled by awards prediction website Gold Derby, "A Star Is Born" is a lock for best drama film, and Cuaron will take home top director honors.
- Tight races in musical/comedy -
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes have parallel categories for dramas and musical/comedy films -- meaning two times the prizes, and a chance for Oscar voters to consider a wider range of performances.
Gaga could be a double winner, with nods for both best drama actress and best original song for the film's mega-hit, "Shallow."
For best actor, Cooper -- who plays the aging rocker who discovers a struggling singer-songwriter (Gaga) and propels her to stardom -- is locked in a duel with Rami Malek, who portrays Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The field on the musical/comedy side is wider.
Beyond "Vice," top contenders include offbeat royal romp "The Favourite," civil rights dramedy "Green Book" and Disney sequel "Mary Poppins Returns."
Christian Bale, nearly unrecognizable as Cheney, is tipped to take home best actor honors, even if the film's mixed reviews have damaged its overall chances.
In the best musical/comedy actress race, Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Anne in "The Favourite," is up against Emily Blunt, who fills the shoes of Julie Andrews as the magical British nanny.
- New faces in TV race -
The television side of the Globes can feel a bit redundant coming so soon after the Emmys in September, with many of the same nominees as the Television Academy field.
Best drama series went to the acclaimed FX Cold War spy thriller "The Americans" -- its first Golden Globe for its sixth and final season.
Adding spice to the mix on Sunday are programs that aired too late for Emmys contention.
Newcomer Richard Madden was recognized for his turn as Sergeant David Budd in BBC America's "Bodyguard."
Oh could take home an award herself -- she scored a best actress nomination for acclaimed TV drama "Killing Eve."