BEVERLY HILLS, California (REUTERS) - Hollywood's awards season gets underway on Sunday with the Golden Globes, an often raucous party where the champagne flows along with pointed barbs and surprises.
Musical La La Land, black coming-of-age movie Moonlight and the grief drama Manchester by the Sea lead the nominations. But there is plenty of room for upsets on a night that will test the red carpet nerves of best actor front-runner Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, and the comeback potential of director Mel Gibson.
Gibson's visceral war drama Hacksaw Ridge is up for best drama and director awards, and marks his return to form a decade after a drunken, anti-Semitic rant that made the Oscar-winner a Hollywood outcast.
"There could be a big comeback moment that the Globes might want to present. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mel pick off the best director prize," said Pete Hammond, awards columnist for entertainment website Deadline.com.
"That would be right in line with what the Golden Globes have done in the past - honouring big names," Hammond said, recalling last year's surprise Globe award to Sylvester Stallone.
Jimmy Fallon hosts Sunday's three-hour spectacle, broadcast live on NBC television, in what is seen as a safer choice after seven years in the hands of acerbic Briton Ricky Gervais and the zinger-prone duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
The genial Fallon, who hosts NBC's late night The Tonight Show, says his brand of humour is more subtle.
"I'm hopefully going to book the people in this crowd the next week, so I'll be edgy, but it's all in good fun, and I know how far I can take it," Fallon told the Hollywood Reporter ahead of the ceremony.
The Golden Globes takes place as Donald Trump, who was opposed by most of the show business community, prepares to take office as the first US president with a career in reality TV.
"The whole night won't focus on that (Trump), but it will be a week before the inauguration, so it will be on everyone's mind. It's the first and maybe the last party that we'll have in 2017," quipped Fallon.
Viola Davis (Fences), Natalie Portman (Jackie) are widely expected to take home Golden Globes, while the revered Meryl Streep will get the annual lifetime achievement award.
Hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globes also hand out prizes for television and are often the first to honor new work, including drama series Mr Robot in 2016.
Presenters on Sunday include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Hamm, Sting, Ben Affleck, Felicity Jones, Amy Schumer and Carrie Underwood.