"Django Unchained."
TWC "Django Unchained."

The Golden Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, 90 veteran film writers and broadcasters who cover Hollywood for their overseas outlets. They live a cushy life; their offices are piled high with screeners, coffee table tie-in books, soundtracks and swag. They are feted and jetted to junkets. The studios and indies and awards handlers throw them parties, wine and dine them, give them press conferences and round table and one-on-one interviews. Many members of the HFPA have been doing this a long time; many of them believe that they are friends with the stars who charm them, year in, year out. (Full list of film nominations is here.)

OK, some are hard-working journalists who occasionally ask tough questions. They see the films and vote for the movies and stars they like best. They throw a gala awards night --no question, the best in town, as glittering sylphs skitter on high heels through the halls of the Beverly Hilton Hotel from party to party--and want to make sure that their guest list is dazzling. Advantage: Leonardo DiCaprio over "Django Unchained" costar Christoph Waltz in the best supporting actor race, even if Waltz gets the German vote. And SAG "Silver Linings" nominee Robert De Niro, who dissed the HFPA last time he accepted an award, has not been invited back. On the other hand, Globe fave Nicole Kidman scored two 2013 nominations, for both "The Paperboy" and HBO's "Hemingway and Gellhorn." While she has three Oscar nominations and one win thus far, the HFPA has nominated her ten times.

Harvey Weinstein plays the Globes like a violin. TWC's "Django Unchained," "Quartet," and "The Master" all scored better with the HFPA than with SAG--the Weinsteins landed 15 Globe nominations over six films. Even as a comedy contender here, "Silver Linings Playbook" remains the Weinstein's strongest Oscar candidate--but David O. Russell did not land a best director Globe nod. "Django Unchained"'s five Globe nominations gave a much-needed boost for the film, which was neglected by critics groups and shut out by SAG (which may be partly a deadline issue--the movie hit the awards circuit late and screeners weren't ready).

With both comedy/musical and drama categories--yielding ten picture and actor/actress nominees--the Globes cover more ground than the Oscars.  Truth is, the SAG vote is more reflective of where the all-important actors are in this race than HFPA. Is SAG and Globe nominee Nicole Kidman really a player for her gutsy no-holds-barred performance in "The Paperboy"? The Academy actors could go there, but the movie, with a Metacritic score of 45, isn't a strong contender.

The Globes confer more winning momentum on their nominees heading--finally--into the Oscar corridor. Those who are omitted don't get the extra push. The Globes do not reflect any more than the critics groups what Academy members are thinking. Many Oscar voters haven't made a dent yet in their screener piles. But they are gaining a sense of what they need to see first and must not miss. True, the Academy voters in this phase are also being courted with lunches and dinners and access to talent via Q & As and parties. But once the nominations are announced on January 10 that stops.

So what do the Globes teach us? On the must-see list and sure to gain multiple nominations are frontrunners "Lincoln," which has dominated every awards sector to date and led the Globes pack with seven nominations, "Argo," with five nominations, "Life of Pi," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Les Miserables," and "Silver Linings Playbook." Coming up on the outside are "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Moonrise Kingdom," "The Master" and "Django Unchained." ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," shut out by SAG and the Globes, is looking like a very long shot for the Oscars.)

The Globes best director list of only five includes Quentin Tarantino and not "Silver Linings"' David O. Russell or "Les Mis"'s Tom Hooper (the Globes are a popularity contest; both of these men are prickly at best). The Academy list is more likely to contain one of the two, and not Tarantino. He and Russell may have to settle for writing noms. It is statistically unlikely that without a Globe director nomination, "Les Miserables" gets to an Oscar picture win. "Crash" and "Driving Miss Daisy" are the two exceptions that prove the rule. 

On the dramatic side, Jessica Chastain is a lock for an Oscar slot, while SAG nominees Marion Cotillard (Globe foreign nominee "Rust and Bone"), Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock") and Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") are far from sure things. And New York Film Critics Circle winner Rachel Weisz is still in the hunt even without a SAG nom. Globe comedy nominee Jennifer Lawrence will grab a slot, and Emmanuelle Riva, the star of Globe foreign film nominee "Amour," may still be in play. Notably absent is "Anna Karenina" star Keira Knightley, whose best hope, having been snubbed by SAG, was a Globes nod.