BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The Golden Globes are good at predicting likely best-picture nominees for the Academy Awards. Not so much at predicting the eventual big Oscar winner, though.
Globe voters, who release their nominations Thursday, used to have a solid track record as a forecast for the Oscar best-picture prize. But they've been swinging and missing recently, with only one top Globe recipient going on to claim the main trophy come Oscar night during the last seven years.
Yet the Globes might have better luck this time. The show has two best-picture categories, one for drama, the other for musicals or comedies. The latter category usually doesn't offer serious best-picture contenders at the Oscars, which tend toward heavier drama.
But this season, the spry, black-and-white silent film "The Artist" stands as a solid comedy to challenge the dramas at the Oscars. If "The Artist" wins the Globe musical or comedy prize, it could end up in an Oscar showdown with the Globe drama winner, whose contenders might include the Deep South tale "The Help," George Clooney's family story "The Descendants," Steven Spielberg's World War I epic "War Horse" and Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure "Hugo."
Last season, the Facebook tale "The Social Network" emerged as the film to beat at the Oscars after it won for best drama at the Globes. Then the monarchy saga "The King's Speech" picked up steam with key wins at Hollywood trade union honors and wound up crowned best picture at the Oscars.
The year before, the Globes chose "Avatar" over "The Hurt Locker," the latter ending up the Oscar champ.
The last time the Globes matched up with the Oscars was three years ago, when "Slumdog Millionaire" triumphed at both ceremonies.
Before its current seven-year streak of mostly misses, the Globes had been on a run of eight-straight years in which either its best drama or best musical-comedy winner took home the best-picture Oscar.
Along with Clooney for "The Descendants," A-listers potentially scoring Globe nominations include: Brad Pitt for both his baseball tale "Moneyball" and the family epic "The Tree of Life"; Meryl Streep for the Margaret Thatcher chronicle "The Iron Lady"; Glenn Close for the Irish drama "Albert Nobbs"; Leonardo DiCaprio for the J. Edgar Hoover biography "J. Edgar"; and Michelle Williams for the Marilyn Monroe story "My Week with Marilyn."
"The Help" could have a big haul at the Globes, with acting prospects for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Among other fresher faces with a shot at breaking into the awards are Rooney Mara for the thriller "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"; Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo for "The Artist"; Michael Fassbender for the sex-addict drama "Shame"; and Clooney's "Descendants" co-star Shailene Woodley.
With drinks and dinner, the Globes are a laid-back affair for Hollywood's elite compared to the Oscars. The show turned a bit touchy last year as host Ricky Gervais repeatedly made sharp wisecracks about stars and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 85 entertainment reporters for overseas outlets that presents the Globes.
But Gervais helped give the show a TV ratings boost, and he's been invited back as host for a third-straight year.
Five-time Academy Award and Globe nominee Morgan Freeman — who won the supporting-actor Oscar for "Million Dollar Baby" and a best-actor Globe for "Driving Miss Daisy" — will receive the group's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Jan. 15 ceremony.
Thursday's nominations in 25 film and television categories will be announced by actors Sofia Vergara, Woody Harrelson and Gerard Butler.