When Hollywood gathers for the 72nd annual Golden Globes on Sunday night, real-world events may loom over what's usually one of the industry's most carefree and rollicking evenings.
The three-hour ceremony, which NBC will televise live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, beginning at 8 p.m. EST, comes on the heels of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. It also follows Hollywood's own international incident over provocative parody: the hacking attack against Sony Pictures prompted by the North Korea farce "The Interview."
Yet Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can be counted on to exercise their right to free speech in the duo's third year in a row hosting. The night's Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, George Clooney, was also one of the movie industry's loudest voices clamoring for the release of "The Interview" after it was temporarily canceled because of terrorist threats.
How much Hollywood is ready to laugh about the hacking scandal will be one of the night's story lines to watch, along with the stream of awards and their sometimes tipsy speeches.
With a leading seven nominations, including best picture, comedy or musical, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's backstage romp "Birdman" will rival Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making "Boyhood" (five nods) and the Alan Turing World War II thriller "The Imitation Game" (also five nominations) for the night's dominant award-winner.
Thus far, Hollywood's award season has generally gone in favor of the critical darling "Boyhood," but the season has featured a diverse bunch of candidates, albeit ones lacking major box-office draws. The civil rights drama "Selma," the Stephen Hawking tale "The Theory of Everything" and Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" are also heavily in the mix.
Led by Fey and Poehler, the Globes have been on a terrific upswing in recent years. Last year's awards drew 20.9 million viewers, the most since 2004. As the only major awards show to honor both movies and TV, the Globes have also benefited from television's rise.
This year, AMC's "Fargo" leads with five nominations, including best TV miniseries or movie. Hit HBO shows ("Game of Thrones," "Girls") will vie with Netflix entries ("House of Cards," "Orange Is the New Black"), Amazon upstarts ("Transparent") and network standbys ("The Good Wife") for top TV honors.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of mostly freelance journalists that puts on the Globes, has lately cleaned up its reputation for idiosyncratic choices and awards swayed by celebrity. Last year, the HFPA chose the eventual Academy Awards best-picture winner, "12 Years a Slave," as best drama and "American Hustle" as best comedy.