From ENTV: Deadline Hollywood
Pete Hammond’s 2012 Golden Globe Predictions

Although the track record for the Golden Globes matching the Best Picture Oscar has not been sterling in recent years, all eyes are on the glitzy, star-studded NBC awards show to give some semblance of order in the awards-season picture. Sunday’s night show didn’t really do that as it spread the winners around — just like every other contest seems to have done in this topsy-turvy year. The one thing it seems to have confirmed is that The Artist, the little French black-and-white silent film Harvey Weinstein acquired almost on a dare, is the one to beat all the way to the Academy Awards on February 26. Winning three of its six nominations — for Best Picture, Actor-Musical or Comedy, and Best Music Score — it led all comers, with only The Descendants being the only other multiple winner with two last-minute victories for Best Actor-Drama George Clooney and Best Picture-Drama.

At the Fox party afterward, Globe-winning producer Jim Burke told me it was like a surprise party where you had no idea you were gonna be surprised. He said the way the evening was going, it was a shock they came out on top in the end. Producer-writer-director Alexander Payne also told me he was very happy with the outcome although there is a long way to go until Oscar night. This definitely gives a shot in the arm to the Hawaiian-set comedy/drama, but it is by no means the only film set to challenge The Artist for Best Picture bragging rights at the Oscars.

Although The Help only was able to cash in one of its Globe nods — for Octavia Spencer, now the odds-on favorite for Best Supporting Actress — there is mounting evidence based on my Academy voter interviews that it could be a major multi-category contender at the Oscars. And also Hugo, which may have lost Best Picture-Drama at the Globes but won Best Director for Martin Scorsese and should not be counted out despite a less-than-glowing box office performance.

What the Globes and Thursday’s Critics Choice Movie Awards results, in addition to the split decisions among many critics groups, have proven is that this is a wide-open year. No sweep seems to be developing, and even  though The Artist would seem to be the favorite, anything is possible. Still, Harvey Weinstein was one happy camper tonight as his company was able to bring home Globes for not only the silent sensation but also Meryl Streep for Best Actress-Drama for The Iron Lady; Best  Actress-Comedy Or Musical for My Week With Marilyn’s Michelle Williams; and even Best Song for Madonna’s “Masterpiece,” from W.E. (the HFPA can’t resist Madonna), though it’s not eligible for an Oscar nom in the same category.

Apart from Streep, who is in a knock-down drag-out Best Actress Oscar contest with Williams and Critics’ Choice winner Viola Davis, the Globes did appear carry on the momentum of other frontrunners: Best Actor-Drama winner George Clooney for The Descendants, The Help’s Spencer and the seemingly unstoppable Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor for Beginners. The screenplay trophy to the absent Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris would also seem to be a major precursor to an inevitable Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Even rival Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, a big Allen fan, told me he expects that to be the case. As for Plummer, who is just rolling through this awards season, I was told he was still very nervous going into this Globes event tonight. But afterwards, when I talked to him, he was thrilled with the win. I don’t see how this veteran star loses the Oscar. He had some nice things to say in his acceptance speech. “What a wonderful welcome back to the home of King Kong and Rin Tin Tin and all our earliest fantasies,”  he warmly said while also thanking his canine co-star Cosmo. Between him and Uggie, it was a big night for Jack Russell terriers.

At the packed post -Globe Weinstein party at Trader Vic’s, Harvey was all smiles as he introduced me to his daughter and her friend. I reminded him that exactly one year ago, I was at his party asking what his King’s Speech Globe loss to The Social Network meant. He defiantly said it was only the beginning of a long awards season. The next week, King’s Speech stunned Social Network at the Producers Guild awards and the rest is history. On Sunday night, Weinstein was singing a different tune. “This is great,” he said. “This is a much better position to be in for me than last year at this time.”

The appearance on stage and on the red carpet of Uggie, the scene-stealing dog in The Artist, could only help the “awwwww” factor among Academy members in the audience and watching on TV — even though some rivals complained to me that letting the dog in the building was giving an unfair advantage to the film. C’est la vie, as they say in France.

As for the HFPA’s other awards, Best Foreign Language Film to Iran’s A Separation continues that terrific drama’s winning streak and makes it a seemingly inevitable Oscar winner too. Also, the award to Steven Spielberg’s first animated foray The Adventures Of Tintin might seem a surprising over favored Rango, but the latter is probably too American for the foreign group. Plus, they owed Spielberg having snubbed him for a Best Director nod and trying to make up for ignoring War Horse in the finals.

Sony was feeling like the underdog this year after it  came out of the Globes triumphant in 2011 with its final The Social Network win of the season. At least that’s the impression I got at their subdued after-party in the 8th-floor Starlight room. Perhaps they had it so high up in the hotel so they could jump? Not really. But they would love to be the upset this year at next week’s Producers Guild awards. I could tell Amy Pascal, Jeff Blake and Michael Lynton were a bit frustrated by the loss of Moneyball and to a lesser extent The Ides Of March. The eventual Oscar loss of Social Network still really stings, with one exec complaining, “the Academy is just too old to get it”. On the other hand, their The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is doing well now at the box office, and with guild nominations having been racked up among the PGA, DGA, WGA, ADG and ASC in the last couple of weeks, it gives the studio hope going forward.

As for the show itself, the consensus in the room was that Ricky Gervais was a great host but not nearly as daring or controversial as he was in his last two stints. Also, there wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm for the speeches at this one, particularly after Viola Davis knocked everyone out at the Critics Choice awards. Streep was charming in her own way but awkward. Spencer and Scorsese read a list. Clooney focused more on rival Brad Pitt than his own feelings. Most of the TV winners were drowned out by chattering in the ballroom. It should have been more memorable — Gervais should have been more forcefully comic and outrageous. Oh well.

Next Saturday’s PGA awards could be as important to the Oscar race as next Saturday’s South Carolina primary is to the run for the White House, where Mitt Romney could wrap things up for the Republican presidential nomination. If someone, — anyone — can stop The Artist we have a race. But if the latter sails to a win among those all-important and predictive guild’s members, it could be all over even before Oscar nominations are announced January 24.

More Golden Globes coverage:
GOLDEN GLOBES TV: Big Night For Freshmen, Pay Cable And 20th TV
Nikki Finke: Live-Snarking The Globes
Golden Globes Studio/Network Scorecard