Even the most seasoned award-watcher hesitates before charting a course for the Golden Globes. Voted on by the mercurial Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globes encompass both film and television, and split some (but not all) of its biggest prizes between Drama and Comedy/Musical categories that studios and networks manipulate with all their considerable skill.
Below you'll find our attempt to crack the Globes' code. From art-house movies to smash-hit series, who will go home with the trophies? We guarantee our guesses are as good as gold.
Best Picture (Drama)
Hell or High Water
Manchester by the Sea
WILL WIN: The Globes' voting system has a tendency to reward heat, but taking its temperature is a tricky proposition in which box-office success and critical acclaim can both help the winner hit the boiling point. With none of this year's nominees pulling in blockbuster numbers, our hunch is that Moonlight's (well-deserved!) buzz advantage will give it the gold.
SHOULD WIN: Manchester has its partisans, Hell or High Water delighted genre fans, and Hacksaw Ridge is apparently Mel Gibson's all-is-forgiven moment (and in a country where Donald Trump is president-elect, why the hell not). But Moonlight has earned it.
ROBBED: O Marty, where art thou? The Globes are strikingly silent on Scorsese's Silence, despite nominating The Wolf of Wall Street a few years back. And it might have been nice to see the thoughtful horror film The Witch, or even the gutsy and grim Star Wars story Rogue One, pull an oddball genre-centric nomination the way that R-rated superhero gross-out flick Deadpool did in the comedy category.
Best Picture (Musical or Comedy)
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
20th Century Women
WILL WIN: With recent winners that include decidedly non-comedy, non-musical movies The Martian and American Hustle, this category might better be named Best Picture (Shenanigans). However, the presence of an actual musical (!) in La La Land – not to mention A-list faves like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – ought to have its creative team doing jazz hands at the podium.
SHOULD WIN: The contest between artsy Mike Mills' 20th Century Women and dick-joke X-Men castoff Deadpool is as bizarre as anything that actually wound up on screen in either film. But let's go with the Annette Bening/Elle Fanning/Greta Gerwig flick.
ROBBED: You're going to nominate frigging Deadpool but not Joel and Ethan Coen's Hail, Caesar!? Go home, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, you're drunk. Which, granted, is the appeal of your open-bar award ceremony, but still.
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins. Full stop. Somewhat inexplicably, the Best Director Golden Globe eschews the comedy/drama divide of all the other major categories. As a result, the drama and director results tend to go hand in hand. So while there is a tendency to split the ticket in favor of star power here – meaning the chance of a possible upset via Gibson or fashionista Tom Ford – our money is still on Barry Jenkins.
SHOULD WIN: Jenkins. Full stop.
ROBBED: Greatest living American directors Martin Scorsese and Joel and Ethan Coen released incredible, thoughtful, near-impeccable movies in 2016. 'Nuff said.
Best Actor, Movie (Drama)
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
WILL WIN: There's been a lot of buzz around Affleck's devastating performance in Manchester by the Sea, naturally. But given he was shafted on the director end, bona fide superstar Denzel Washington is likely to grab the globe in this category for Fences.
SHOULD WIN: And we're fine with that.
ROBBED: Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger did not save over a hundred lives in a river for Tom Hanks' award-bait role in Sully to go unacknowledged, people. And you know, Andrew Garfield was in Silence, too…
Best Actor, Movie (Comedy)
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
WILL WIN: His star wattage and ability to sell old-school Hollywood glamor seems all but certain to net Ryan Gosling the Globe.
SHOULD WIN: Colin Farrell carried The Lobster, but listen: If you're going to nominate Ryan Reynolds as the full-face-mask-wearing super-antihero Deadpool, you'd best be prepared to go all the way.
ROBBED: Speaking of old-school Hollywood: The fact that award-season favorites Josh Brolin and George Clooney aren't here for the Coen brothers' Hail, Caesar! is a crime.
Best Actress, Movie (Drama)
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
WILL WIN: Natalie Portman wowed us in Black Swan and Closer; this time she does it in a black veil in Camelot. With no competition from Emma Stone in this category (which may be a problem when the Oscars roll around), she's a lock here.
SHOULD WIN: Loving's Ruth Negga should be more of a sure shot at snagging the top spot.
ROBBED: Nocturnal Animals didn't net a nominations for Amy Adams (though she pulled one for Arrival); it's arguably the better role. Meanwhile, Taraji P. Henson was double-snubbed both in her TV vehicle Empire and, for this category, her big-screen role in Hidden Figures. Finally, the inclusion of Ana Taylor-Joy in The Witch would rightfully make waves in a world where horror got the recognition it deserved.
Best Actress, Movie (Comedy)
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don't Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
WILL WIN: In a contest between ingenues and veterans, we see the highest-profile movie making the difference – so look for an Emma Stone victory.
SHOULD WIN: Considering the competition, who either have countless chances ahead of them or myriad wins behind them, Annette Bening is the one to beat.
ROBBED: Two can play at this game, HFPA: Morena Baccarin for Deadpool!
Best Supporting Actor (Movie)
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
WILL WIN: This is Mahershala Ali's year. It's possible the HFPA will swerve to established star Jeff Bridges, but we're going with the favorite.
SHOULD WIN: Ali is the favorite for a reason.
ROBBED: Michael Shannon is a national treasure in his profession – and he was in Nocturnal Animals too, Golden Globes.
Best Supporting Actress, Movie
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
WILL WIN: It feels like a toss-up between Michelle Williams for her devastating turn in Manchester (especially that last scene), and Fences' Viola Davis. However: Ms. Davis was overlooked for her previously nominated TV work on How to Get Away With Murder ... and that, along with her stellar work in August Wilson's landmark play, may make her the likely victor.
SHOULD WIN: No problem whatsoever with Davis grabbing the globe, though Harris in Moonlight deserves the spotlight as well.
ROBBED: Laura Linney in Nocturnal Animals seems like an oversight, frankly.
Best TV Series (Drama)
Game of Thrones
This Is Us
WILL WIN: The Globes' TV patterns are difficult to predict, but it's rare to award a series with its first trophy deep into its run. So while it's possible that Game of Thrones' historic "Battle of the Bastards" season could snag an outlier win, our money is on the HFPA giving the nod to rookie (and network) domestic drama This Is Us.
SHOULD WIN: With enough Emmy gold under its belt to ransom the Iron Throne itself, and deservedly so, Game of Thrones' epic recent run easily defeats the competition.
ROBBED: Where do we begin? The Affair, The Americans, Better Call Saul, Empire, Halt and Catch Fire, Horace and Pete, House of Cards, Mr. Robot, Narcos – all of these past nominees or worthy applicants got the cold shoulder. Of the group, Mr. Robot arguably had the boldest and best season.
Best TV Series (Comedy)
Mozart in the Jungle
WILL WIN: The Globes' TV priorities are nigh impossible to predict – remember last year's Mozart in the Jungle win? – but even so, our guess is that breakout freshman comedy Atlanta gets the gold.
SHOULD WIN: There's effectively nothing else on TV like Atlanta. Donald Glover and company win this one fair and square.
ROBBED: Better Things, Broad City, Fleabag, Girls, Jane the Virgin, Lady Dynamite, Orange Is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – a lot of funny women did a lot of funny stuff and got the shaft for it. And oh yeah, Silicon Valley too.
Best TV Miniseries
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
WILL WIN: The Juice is loose, and he has a lock on this category. Rightfully so: The People v. O.J Simpson is the crowning achievement of creator Ryan Murphy's long and weird career, to date, and this 10-episode series did justice to the countless complex sociopolitical issues the titular trial raised. It also featured a full house of career-best performances.
SHOULD WIN: O.J. will have the run of his life.
ROBBED: The absence of fan-favorite sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror is striking, particularly in light of the rapturous response to its romantic "San Junipero" episode.
Best Actor, TV (Drama)
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath
WILL WIN: Honestly, who the hell knows with this category. The Globes' nomination period is off-kilter enough that the previous winner in this category is Jon Hamm in Mad Men, a show that feels like it went off the air five years ago. In that light we're giving the gold to newcomer Billy Bob Thornton for Goliath's first season, figuring the veterans will split the vote.
SHOULD WIN: Both Rhys and Odenkirk put in powerful performances, but Malek is sui generis as Mr. Robot's leading man; his combo of wild eyes and flat affect deserve recognition.
ROBBED: Previous nominee Wagner Moura's turn as Pablo Escobar in Narcos didn't even make the cut this year. Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington from Game of Thrones? No-shows as well.
Best Actor, TV (Comedy)
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
WILL WIN: Donald Glover should take this one home, as much for his role in creating Atlanta as starring in it.
SHOULD WIN: We'll give this one to Glover, firmly establishing himself as a television creative force to be reckoned with outside the orbits of Tina Fey and Dan Harmon.
ROBBED: Call us sentimental, but we remain welded to Bruce Campbell's role in Ash vs. Evil Dead like his chainsaw hand to his arm.
Best Actress, TV (Drama)
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
WILL WIN: It's difficult to see the HFPA resisting the gravitational pull of Winona Ryder's star power as Stranger Things' griever-in-chief. The Winonaissance begins here.
SHOULD WIN: Keri Russell's best season on The Americans was last year, but she remained riveting; meanwhile, Evan Rachel Wood did yeoman's work with her Westworld character. Both would be worthy wins.
ROBBED: Once again, where to begin? The Affair's Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney provided the most sensitive depictions of marriage and infidelity on TV. Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday killed it in Mr. Robot's second-season depiction of urban despair. Scandal wouldn't exist without Kerry Washington; ditto How to Get Away With Murder and Viola Davis. Emilia Clarke and Sophie Turner's work on Game of Thrones is iconic. Finally, there's the force of nature known as Taraji P. Henson's Cookie Lyon on Empire. WTF, Globes?
Best Actress, TV (Comedy)
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
WILL WIN: With six, count 'em, six nominees instead of the usual five, the competition here is stiffer than anywhere else on the award slate. That said, we see Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker making a comeback.
SHOULD WIN: We said the competition was stiff, didn't we? Veep is unthinkable without Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who by now has established herself as the most prominent woman in TV comedy since Lucille Ball; meanwhile, Issa Rae and Rachel Bloom are their respective shows.
ROBBED: Hey, remember that Gilmore Girls comeback? We bet Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham do. Globes voters, however, didn't.
Best Supporting Actor
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
WILL WIN: Sterling K. Brown was the beating human heart of The People v. O.J. Simpson. John Travolta was its beating inhuman heart – a performance that would win an award at the Alien Golden Globe's for Outstanding Performance as a Human by a Xenomporph. We're going to throw caution to the solar winds and give the nod to his bizarro Robert Shapiro with his superior star power in mind.
SHOULD WIN: Brown's work as Christopher Darden did as much to cement his real-world analogue's fundamental humanity as Sarah Paulson's Marcia Clark, and that's before his starring role on This Is Us gave him additional clout. He's still a possibility for an outright win, but he deserves the gold regardless.
ROBBED: With drama, comedy, miniseries, and TV movies all eligible for this category, it's a free-for-all, but David Schwimmer's revelatory Robert "Uncle Juice?" Kardashian in The People v. O.J. Simpson has our vote. Runners-up: The gutwrenching portrayals of mental illness by Steve Buscemi in Horace and Pete and Michael McKean in Better Call Saul.
Best Supporting Actress, TV
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld
WILL WIN: When it comes to the Globes' unpredictable TV nomination track record, this is really where the shit hits the fan. Lena Headey gets Game of Thrones' sole acting nomination; Thandie Newton joins Evan Rachel Wood for Westworld while Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright get bupkiss; two This Is Us performers get the nod. Mass hysteria, people! We're giving this one to Lena Headey just for that finale alone.
SHOULD WIN: Out of this crew we'll give the gold to Headey, who has more than earned her spot on the golden throne.
ROBBED: With every TV category tossed into the mix, Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones, Jeannie Berlin in The Night Of, and Laurie Metcalf in Horace and Pete would all get a Globe in a just world.
Best Actor, Miniseries or TV Movie
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
John Turturro, The Night Of
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
WILL WIN: A standout in basically any cast he's ever been in, from Crimson Tide to Criminal Intent, Courtney B. Vance got the role of a lifetime as Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O.J. and absolutely killed it. Voters will have noticed.
SHOULD WIN: All due respect to Riz Ahmed's understated work in The Night Of, but Vance nailed every nuance of a very complex real-world figure. The Globe is his.
ROBBED: As Detective Box, Bill Camp was the third member of The Night Of's unholy trinity – and frankly made the biggest impact of the bunch. He should be up here.
Best Actress, Miniseries or TV Movie
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation
WILL WIN: We're willing to hear arguments that a performance other than Sarah Paulson's public-perception-altering turn as misogynistically maligned O.J. prosecutor Marcia Clark deserves to win. But we'll say up front that you're about as likely to convince us as Clark herself was to convince the jury of the Juice's guilt after the glove didn't fit.
SHOULD WIN: Shout-outs to Riley Keough's star turn in TGE and Kerry Washington's part in a very different kind of Washington scandal – but the globe belongs to Paulson.
ROBBED: Regina King's American Crime role was every bit the equal of Huffman's, and at any rate she deserves a make-good for her stellar work on The Leftovers, which took the year off.