BEVERLY HILLS, Calif (REUTERS/AFP) - The beautiful, the powerful and the merely talented of Hollywood gather on Sunday for the Golden Globe Awards, the high-wattage launch to the film industry awards season that culminates in Oscars.
While a Golden Globe lacks the prestige of an Academy Award - the industry's highest honor - the party put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association can be a rowdy affair, especially in the hands of third-time hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.
Hanging over the room will be the hacking at Sony Pictures , which had the town atwitter after leaked emails revealed embarrassing tidbits about some of Hollywood's biggest names - likely fodder for the comedic pair to poke fun.
"When an entertainment story becomes a national and an international news story, you can't ignore it and they won't,"said Dave Karger, chief correspondent and awards expert at Fandango.
Sony Pictures Chief Executive Michael Lynton, who will be absent, said in an interview that he is a "a bit of a homebody and my sticking my head above the parapet is not normal for me".
A film that satirises show business, Birdman, leads all nominees with seven nods and is the favourite to win best comedy/musical film. Star Michael Keaton, embodying the comeback in film and real life, could win best comedy/musical actor.
Sunday will be a major test for a small film that has endeared critics, Boyhood, the favourite to win the more coveted best drama Globe. A bold endeavour made over 12 years with the same actors tells the simple tale of a boy growing up.
Two biopics are also vying for attention: The Imitation Game, about a heroic World War Two codebreaker persecuted for being homosexual, and the portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, a 1960s drama that resonates in the current debate over race.
Eddie Redmayne has an edge on best drama actor as physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
In the best musical or comedy category, Birdman's rivals include Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, Disney's dark musical fairytale romp Into the Woods, Pride and St Vincent.
Barely 48 hours before the curtain goes up for the 72nd Globes ceremony, a website glitch appeared to suggest that Selma and Into the Woods could be set for best film honours. The films were briefly posted on the
Globes website as winning the best drama and best musical/comedy film awards, before the captions were taken down, according to industry journal Variety. A spokesman said the films were chosen "randomly" from nominees' lists as Web technicians fine-tuned the website ahead of the show, and that the captions should not have been live.
On the small screen, Fargo took the most nominations with five. In the television categories, critics see a free-for-all. Victories for either House of Cards for best drama series and Orange is the New Black for best comedy would be sweet for online streaming giant Netflix as it battles the traditional broadcast and cable networks.
Unlike the Oscars, which are voted on by some 6,000 industry members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Globes are selected by fewer than 100 journalists from the 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). But a Globes win can still provide a huge boost for an Oscars campaign. Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday. The Academy Awards will then be held on February 22.
Actor and director George Clooney will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.