"Lincoln," "Argo," Tina Fey, Amy Poehler on Golden Globes menu
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Hollywood's biggest stars turn out on Sunday for the 70th Golden Globe Awards, with "Lincoln" and Iran hostage thriller "Argo" in a close race for the top honor, best movie drama.
Golden Globe nominees Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Steven Spielberg, Bradley Cooper, Richard Gere, Denzel Washington and singer Adele will be A-list presenters, along with George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts and "Twilight" movie star Robert Pattinson.
Eyes also will be on comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who are jointly hosting the event for the first time and who have promised "the sloppiest, best-ever" Golden Globes ceremony.
"Lincoln," Spielberg's account of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to end slavery, heads into the evening with a leading seven nominations.
But it faces strong competition from "Argo," and Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti Western-style slavery drama, "Django Unchained," which have five apiece from Globe organizer, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).
With Osama bin Laden movie "Zero Dark Thirty" and visually arresting shipwreck tale "Life of Pi" rounding out the best dramatic film contest, pundits say it's hard to predict which film will come out on top.
"They really seem to like Tarantino at the HFPA," said Pete Hammond, awards columnist for entertainment industry website Deadline.com.
"But I am guessing it will come down to 'Argo' versus 'Lincoln.' They like them both enormously at the HFPA, so I think it's a battle to the finish for those two," Hammond told Reuters.
EARLY OSCAR NOMINATIONS STEAL GLOBE'S THUNDER?
The Golden Globes, which will be broadcast live on NBC television, is Hollywood's second-biggest awards show after February's Oscars, or Academy Awards. But its influence on that race has been sapped this year because Oscar nominations were announced three days ago, instead of a week after the Globes awards show.
Unlike the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes have a separate category for film comedies or musicals, and they also honor television dramas and comedies.
This year the lavish screen version of hit stage musical "Les Miserables" is meeting strong competition from comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" about a man with bipolar disorder (Cooper) and a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence).
Both actors are also in the running for a Golden Globe trophy for their performances, along with "Les Mis" stars Jackman and Hathaway.
In the television categories, Fey and Poehler are likely to have some fun at their own expense.
The former "Saturday Night Live" comedy show colleagues will compete against each other for the best comedy actress trophy thanks to their starring roles in TV shows "30 Rock" (Fey) and "Parks and Recreation" (Poehler).
The women will bring a fresh vibe to the festivities after three years in which acidic Briton Ricky Gervais has cracked the jokes.
"I think Tina and Amy may reserve their sharpest jabs for each other, and overall keep a little bit of a friendlier tone. I don't think they will go into the night wanting to skewer anyone, except maybe each other," said Dave Karger, chief correspondent at Fandango.com.
Poehler jokingly told Entertainment Weekly last week that Globes evening "is just the right amount of weird for us," and that the duo would "kind of encourage people to go off their meds for one night."
Television shows competing for best drama on Sunday include Emmy-winning terrorism thriller "Homeland," and its stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis," along with cooks and countesses drama "Downton Abbey," "Boardwalk Empire," "Breaking Bad," and newcomer "The Newsroom."
The best comedy/musical series race features "Modern Family," "Girls," "Episodes," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Smash."
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Xavier Briand)