The Golden Globe battle for best drama actor is a slugfest pitting odds-on-favorite Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and George Clooney ("Up in the Air") against Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus") and Tobey Maguire ("Brothers").
Predicting the outcome is a head-scratcher. Most pundits are betting on Bridges or Clooney, which is probably right, but no one should wager too much on the Globes. They're predictably unpredictable. Sometimes voters like to take a surprising art-house turn, which would favor Firth now. Just like the Oscars, Globe voters are often suckers for famous actors who portray other famous people, which would benefit Freeman as Nelson Mandela. Maguire shouldn't be written off because he's done something impressive of late, crossing over from portraying a popcorn superhero like Spider-Man to doing an edgy role as a bedeviled ex-soldier in "Brothers."
Bridges and Clooney have all the buzz, though. In Bridges' favor is the fact that he's got the emotionally showy, gritty, brooding kind of role that often triumphs. Think of the last two champs: Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") and Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"). Bridges not only plays a boozer like Rourke's role, but a chap who really ties one on -- like Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas," for which he won the Globe as best drama actor of 1995.
However, voters adore Clooney. He's won twice — for "Syriana" and "O Brother, Where Are Thou?" His role has emotional gravitas too, as his character, a sly corporate cat, searches the friendly skies for love and a meaning to life. It probably helps that "Up in the Air" is a front-runner to win best drama picture. "Crazy Heart" isn't nominated.
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Left photo: A scene from "Up in the Air." Credit: Paramount
Right photo: A scene from "Crazy Heart." Credit: Fox Searchlight