By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 07, 2018 at 12:39 PM

The upcoming Oscar race is gearing up to be one of the most wide open contests in years. The increased diversity amongst the Academy means the old rules and assumptions may no longer apply (just ask "La La Land"). Critics groups threw their prizes around everywhere, while around five films right now have solid arguments for why they could come away with Best Picture. 

But as the first awards show of the season, Sunday's Golden Globes will provide ... absolutely no help in clearing any of this up.

This is the part where I remind everyone that while awards shows don't mean anything, the Golden Globes REALLY don't mean anything. Even if you forget the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's reputation as desperate celebrity hunters who just like being in the same room with famous people (and votes accordingly), no one in the group is an actual member of the Academy – and therefore none of these people vote for the Oscars. 

But while the trophies themselves are hollow, a win Sunday night still means buzz. It means a narrative of success, trying out speeches that potential voters might respond to, and the media talking about your movie or performance – or not talking about it if you're left off the stage. Most importantly, though, it's a chance to watch beautiful people in fancy clothes get hammered together in the same room while laughing, crying and making fun of one another. So it's "The Bachelor" but with better performers, golden paperweights instead of roses and the HFPA instead of a boring guy. 

Before they hand out the actual awards, though, let's make some guesses about who's going home a winner Sunday night. 

Best Picture - Drama

  • "Call Me By Your Name"
  • "Dunkirk"
  • "The Post"
  • "The Shape of Water"
  • "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Spielberg's "The Post" would be the most political and timely choice, "Three Billboards" is reportedly a favorite among many voters and "Dunkirk," as supposedly an Oscar frontrunner ever since it hit theaters in July, could really use an actual win one of these days to prove it. They're all possible winners, but I'll go with "The Shape Water," which clearly spoke to the HFPA, scoring the most nominations with seven – though the epic action spectacle of "Dunkirk" could get it the win it's been waiting for. This is the group, after all, that gave its best picture to "Avatar" back in 2011. 

Best Actor - Drama

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, "Phantom Thread"
  • Denzel Washington, "Roman J. Israel, Esq."
  • Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour"
  • Timothee Chalamet, "Call Me By Your Name"
  • Tom Hanks, "The Post"

The momentum is all on Timothy Chalamet's side, as the young actor – who also appeared in "Lady Bird"; talk about a good year – claimed a large majority of the critics' trophies on the way to awards season. The Golden Globes pride themselves on anointing stars, and not only are people slightly recoiling from the predictable choice of Gary Oldman – one that's been supposedly a lock since LAST YEAR's awards season – but the veteran actor's had some words for the HFPA in the recent past. I'll still pick Oldman since that kind of big, actorly, transformative performance is traditionally a winner, but no jaws should hit the floor if Chalamet claims the trophy instead. 

Best Actress - Drama

  • Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
  • Jessica Chastain, "Molly's Game"
  • Meryl Streep, "The Post"
  • Michelle Williams, "All the Money in the World"
  • Sally Hawkins, "The Shape of Water"

Hawkins' touching, heart-rending, mostly mute performance in "The Shape Water" is a key part of why that gorgeous oddity works so well, and Meryl ... well, is Meryl, so obviously she's in contention (and for a performance that, according to critics, actually earns the praise this time). But in a ridiculously wide open year like this, I think the HFPA will spread a lot of the love around – and there's few better places to throw some love at "Three Billboards" than with its powerhouse lead performer, Frances McDormand. What do you think about that, Frances?

Thought you'd be excited!

Best Picture - Musical or Comedy

  • "Get Out"
  • "I, Tonya"
  • "Lady Bird"
  • "The Disaster Artist"
  • "The Greatest Showman"

The "Get Out" for Best Picture train is running at full steam, but I think the Golden Globes still go for "Lady Bird" here – especially because, between the two, only one of them is ACTUALLY a comedy. 

Best Actor - Musical or Comedy

  • Ansel Elgort, "Baby Driver"
  • Daniel Kaluuya, "Get Out"
  • Hugh Jackman, "The Greatest Showman"
  • James Franco, "The Disaster Artist"
  • Steve Carell, "Battle of the Sexes"

Once again, the HFPA's king-making aspirations might point them toward Daniel Kaluuya, who's really gathering steam to snag a Best Actor nomination for the Oscars later this month – and who's also just plain really great in "Get Out." Plus, it's the last remaining place to throw Jordan Peele's instant classic thriller an award (maybe you should've nominated him for director then, HMM!?).

Still, Franco's take on the greatest terrible director of all time, Tommy Wiseau, is too spot-on and infectious to ignore. Plus, it's a movie about a creative person's passion – and those always speak well to awards season voters. And lest we forget, "Get Out" came out almost a year ago, while Franco's performance is fresh in minds now. At some point, will time catch up with Peele's horror hit?

Best Actress - Musical or Comedy

  • Emma Stone, "Battle of the Sexes"
  • Helen Mirren, "The Leisure Seeker"
  • Judi Dench, "Victoria & Abdul"
  • Margot Robbie, "I, Tonya"
  • Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird"

First of all, Helen Mirren in "The Leisure Seeker," what are you doing here? I know we all had a good laugh about the "All the Money in the World" nominations, but that is actually the goofiest, Golden Globe-iest nomination of the bunch. But that will just be trivia, however, because she has no chance; it's a two-person race between Robbie and Ronan. The former is fantastically fierce in "I, Tonya," but people love "Lady Bird," and Ronan is a huge part of making the film sing. Plus, there's a general feeling that she's finally due for a win, a weird sentiment considering the actress isn't even old enough to rent a car. 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Armie Hammer, "Call Me By Your Name"
  • Christopher Plummer, "All the Money in the World"
  • Richard Jenkins, "The Shape of Water"
  • Sam Rockwell, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
  • Willem Dafoe, "The Florida Project"

The Golden Globes love their stars – but what happens when there are no real stars nominated? Rockwell and Dafoe are the Oscar front-runners, but I see the Golden Globes mixing things up, wanting to set a narrative in motion and going with Christopher Plummer for his pinch-hitting performance in "All the Money in the World." Not only will Plummer win the award but he'll also earn the land-speed record for fastest time between being cast in a movie to winning awards for said movie. 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Allison Janney, "I, Tonya"
  • Hong Chau, "Downsizing"
  • Laurie Metcalf, "Lady Bird"
  • Mary J. Blige, "Mudbound"
  • Octavia Spencer, "The Shape of Water"

In another low star-wattage category, I could see the HFPA going for a big statement, giving the award to Blige, not only the biggest name of the bunch but also a sign of accepting Netflix movies into the club. But I also wonder if enough people have actually watched "Mudbound" – and how many considered it a movie since they were just streaming it while sitting on their couch. Plus, I think the love will be very real for "Lady Bird" Sunday night, so I'll go with Sheldon's mom from "The Big Bang Theory" as my (deserved) winner. 

Best Director

  • Christopher Nolan, "Dunkirk"
  • Guillermo del Toro, "The Shape of Water"
  • Martin McDonagh, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
  • Ridley Scott, "All the Money in the World"
  • Steven Spielberg, "The Post"

I see this coming down to Nolan and del Toro, and since the former's been shy about campaigning for his movie, I'll say the visually mesmerizing "The Shape of Water" gets the win. 

Best Screenplay

  • "Lady Bird"
  • "Molly's Game"
  • "The Post"
  • "The Shape of Water"
  • "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

McDonagh may have been nominated for director, but his bitter screenplay is really where the spotlight shines in "Three Billboards." Sorkin's flashy dialogue – and flashier name – may sneak in for a win, but I'll bet the HFPA throws some extra love here to the testy drama. 

Best Animated Film

  • "Coco"
  • "Ferdinand"
  • "Loving Vincent"
  • "The Boss Baby"
  • "The Breadwinner"

I'll pick "Coco," but considering Angelina Jolie is a producer on "The Breadwinner," anything could happen. Just ask "The Tourist."

Best Foreign Film

  • "A Fantastic Woman"
  • "First They Killed My Father"
  • "In the Fade"
  • "Loveless"
  • "The Square"

See above. The Jolie-directed Khmer Rogue drama would give the HFPA a chance to get a star on stage in a category where they normally can't. Plus, the Oscar frontrunner, "The Square," might be too prickly for the the voters, so mark down "First They Killed My Father" for the win. Because nothing says foreign film like a movie directed by a L.A.-born Hollywood royalty!

Best Score

  • "Dunkirk"
  • "Phantom Thread"
  • "The Post"
  • "The Shape of Water"
  • "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

OK, at some point, "Dunkirk" has to win SOMETHING, right? The constantly ticking score carries a lot of weight in the war movie, after all, and Hans Zimmer is as close to a rock star as the world of music scores has (my apologies to "Phantom Thread" composer and literal rock star Jonny Greenwood). 

Best Song

  • "Remember Me" from "Coco"
  • "Home" from "Ferdinand"
  • "Mighty River" from "Mudbound"
  • "This Is Me" from "The Greatest Showman"
  • "The Star" from "The Star"

The HFPA loves its stars – and what better way to get stars on stage than awarding "The Star" from "The Star," sung by Mariah Carey?! The only problem: What the hell is the "The Star"? And while we're on the topic of stars, how the hell is Taylor Swift and Zayn's song from "Fifty Shades Darker" not here? Come on, HFPA, tripping up on the job here. 

If Blige doesn't win Best Supporting Actress, "Mighty River" would give the voters their chance to get the R&B icon on the stage. But I think "Remember Me" from "Coco" is too memorable (ha!) and too essential to the actual movie to leave off the stage.

Follow @aManAboutFilm on Twitter Sunday night starting at 7 p.m. as pop culture editor and film critic Matt Mueller live-tweets the Golden Globes! And tune in Facebook afterwards as Matt talks the winners and losers on FB Live!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.