Los Angeles: The Golden Globes -- long known as Hollywood´s favorite party, but rocked by recent scandals -- will attempt to stage a celebrity-filled comeback Tuesday, as films from Steven Spielberg´s "The Fabelmans" to "Top Gun" and "Avatar" sequels compete for top honors.
The Globes traditionally play a key role in kick-starting the movie awards season, but were taken off air last year amid controversy over ethical lapses and a lack of diversity in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organizes the Beverly Hills gala.
This year, following efforts to reform the HFPA -- which previously had no Black members -- NBC will broadcast the 80th Golden Globe Awards on a one-off basis, and invitations have been dispatched to Tinseltown´s brightest stars.
A-listers expected in the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton include Spielberg, whose semi-autobiographical film is the favorite to win best drama, and Eddie Murphy, who will receive a career achievement award.
Comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the ceremony, and Quentin Tarantino is among the night´s presenters.
But many top nominees have not yet confirmed their attendance, and Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond expects this year´s Globes to be "different" from the glitzy, hard-partying, champagne-soaked bashes seen before Covid and industry boycotts interrupted the merrymaking.
"They are going to be muted. There´s no after-parties to go to. There´s none of that. They´re not spending big bucks, the studios, on all of this," Hammond told AFP.
Those who walk the red carpet will be peppered with questions from journalists like "Do you feel comfortable being here?" and "Are you satisfied they´ve made all the changes?" he predicted.
"It´s not going to be exclusively ´What are you wearing?´"
Spielberg, Cruise, Cameron
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes movie awards are split between "drama" and "comedy or musical" categories.
On the drama side, "The Fabelmans" is up against last year´s two biggest box office hits -- the blockbuster sequel "Top Gun: Maverick" starring Tom Cruise, and James Cameron´s "Avatar: The Way of Water."
"Tar," set in the cutthroat world of classical music, and rock-and-roll biopic "Elvis" could also spring surprises.
Their respective stars -- Cate Blanchett, who plays a ruthless conductor, and Austin Butler, stepping into Presley´s blue suede shoes -- are frontrunners for drama acting prizes.
But "The Whale" nominee Brendan Fraser, who alleges he was once sexually assaulted by a former HFPA president, has ruled out attending Tuesday´s gala.
Cruise, a producer on "Top Gun: Maverick," is also unlikely to attend, after he returned his three Globes to the HFPA in 2021 in protest at its behavior.
"The Banshees of Inisherin" holds the most overall nominations at this year´s Globes, with eight, and is a favorite to win best comedy, as well as best comedy actor for Colin Farrell.
The movie about a shattered friendship on a remote Irish island will contend with surreal, multiverse-hopping sci-fi film "Everything Everywhere All At Once," which is seeking acting prizes for Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan.
In years past, success at the Globes was a potential bellwether for films hoping to win Oscars, and served as a valuable marketing tool.
Indeed, Academy voters will begin casting ballots for Oscar nominations on Thursday, just days after the Globes gala.
But recent controversies have muddied the waters.
The addition of more than 100 new, more racially diverse Globes voters, who are not full HFPA members, has made it even harder to predict who the enigmatic group of foreign journalists will reward.
While movie billboards and commercials boasting of Globes nominations have returned after last year´s notable absence, few nominees have publicly thanked the HFPA.
According to Hammond, some in the industry privately yearn for the old Globes to return because the show is an important "cog in the wheel of awards season" which has "been around Hollywood for 80 years."
"You can´t buy tradition," he said.
But rows over diversity, alleged corruption and lack of professionalism have "lessened" the Globes´ sheen when it comes to influencing the Oscars, Hammond said.
"When every (Globes) story talks about the scandal... it doesn´t make it as credible, I think, to the Oscar voters," he said.
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