Despite getting Ricky Gervais back as host, the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards weren't as exciting as they've been in years past. "Tonight you get Britain's biggest comedian hosting the world's second biggest awards show on America's third biggest network. Sorry, it's fourth. For any of you don't know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem," Gervais joked at the start. So why do so many people (16.8 million by the most recent estimates) watch the Globes?

Aside from the red carpet and the jokes and watching Hollywood stars as they get drunk and try not to humiliate themselves, there's one big reason: the Globes tell you who the frontrunners are for the Oscars. As in any year, the Golden Globes have the power to really shake up the Oscar pool, even if nomination ballots have already been mailed in. Let's proceed through some of the main categories so we can see who's locked in — and who still has an uphill climb.

Best Picture

The Globes divide Best Picture into Drama and Comedy. Historically, the movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars is a drama — not a comedy. But this year could be different, with The Artist having won Best Picture at the Critics Choice Movie Awards (CCMAs) and now Best Picture Comedy at the Globes. Will it beat the Best Drama winner, The Descendants? Or will another film like Hugo or War Horse squeak by? Basically, it being in the comedy category, the Golden Globe win bodes very well for The Artist, which is light-hearted but not a laugh-out-loud comedy in the typical sense. The Descendants really needed a boost to stay in the race for the win, and got it last night. But The Artist is still the favorite.


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Best Actress

Last night's win for Meryl Streep was expected, but it may have been a slim victory over The Help's Viola Davis, who won the CCMA award last week. The thing to remember is that Streep wins Golden Globes more often than she does Oscars, and there's also last night's Best Actress in a Comedy winner, Michelle Williams, on the horizon. Regardless, it's a good sign for Streep and a not-so-good sign for Davis, but look to the SAGs to tell us who's really the frontrunner. If Streep wins the SAG, expect her to win her third Oscar — her first in nearly 30 years — in February.

Best Actor

George Clooney is a lock. If Brad Pitt somehow nabs the SAG award, he'll be giving Clooney a run for his money. But expect Clooney to win both. It's possible that last night's winner for Best Actor in a Comedy, The Artist's Jean Dujardin, could be edging closer to the award, but the odds are still on Clooney.

Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress

Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer, keep polishing up those acceptance speeches! Chances are, with wins at both the CCMAs and the Golden Globes, you're going to be going home with two more trophies — the SAG and then finally the Oscar. Should either of these two stars lose the SAG, then look out: you'll probably lose the Oscar, too. Everything depends on the SAG at this point, but signs are good for both Plummer and Spencer.

Best Screenplay

The Golden Globes complicate their forecasting stats by combining Original and Adapted Screenplay awards into just one award, Best Screenplay, which went last night to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. That's an original screenplay, and Allen is definitely the frontrunner for that award. Voters have shown that they won't give it to The Artist, which has essentially zero dialogue, and Bridesmaids is too unconventional an Oscar contender to bet on. The Adapted Screenplay race, meanwhile, comes down to three films: Hugo, Moneyball and The Descendants. Right now, with its Best Picture Golden Globe, The Descendants is getting closer to this award, which Moneyball scribe Aaron Sorkin won last year for The Social Network. It's also tempting not to count War Horse out completely, which could come from behind and start picking up more buzz. Right now, though, former winner in this category Alexander Payne (Sideways) can expect his second Oscar.

Best Director

It took Martin Scorsese seven nominations and nearly 30 years to win his first Best Director Oscar, for The Departed, in 2007. He won the Globe last night, in a surprise victory, for Hugo. Will he keep the momentum building? It's hard to say, with The Artist's Michel Hazanivicius and The Descendants' Payne both eying the award and picking up critics circle awards, it could be anyone's Oscar.

Read more here:

George Clooney Cracks Everyone Up

Meryl Streep, 'The Descendants' Take Top Honors At Golden Globes

Early Predictions: Who Will Be Nominated For Oscars?

Jennifer Lawrence To Announce Oscar Nominations

For Your Consideration: How To Improve The Best Picture Race

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