We asked more than two dozen "experts" who will triumph when Golden Globes are bestowed tonight (see their predictions here), but they based forecasts on whim, personal likes and dislikes, history, whatever — not real inside dish.
So let's add up all the spy reports we have on actual Golden Globe balloting. I've spoken to some of the 80 voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. So have lots of my industry pals and award consultants, who have shared their tattle with us. Pulling everything together, here's how the top races stack up.
"Avatar" will probably win best drama picture, although "Up in the Air" could pull off an upset. Ditto "Inglourious Basterds." "Avatar" director James Cameron will probably win best director too, but beware. At the Oscars, the same film usually wins best pic and helmer, but the opposite is true at the Globes. They like to spread the gold around.
I haven't heard much support for Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), but Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") and Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") have a shot. Bigelow is the curious stealth contender. We all underestimated her and "The Hurt Locker" at the Critics Choice Awards where they pulled off upsets. I don't think "The Hurt Locker" has enough support in the Globes' best-picture race, but Bigelow has a long-shot chance to claim the helmer's prize (40% of Globe voters are women – they might help). Only one woman has won this category -- Globe darling Barbra Streisand in 1983 for her directorial debut "Yentl."
Best drama actor is a close contest between George Clooney ("Up in the Air") and Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"). Voters usually like gritty, ham-bone, angst-packed performances (Mickey Rourke won for "The Wrestler" last year). That could help Bridges, who stumbles around, grumbling and drunk, for two hours in "Crazy Heart." But HFPA members utterly adore George Clooney, who's won twice in the past ("Syriana," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and will probably prevail again. If "Avatar" wins best picture, "Up in the Air" needs a consolation prize, so this is probably it. In terms of actual vote counts I've heard, Clooney has a slight edge.
In the battle for best comedy/musical actor, Daniel Day-Lewis will probably win even though he's one of the chief reasons that "Nine" flopped. (He was miscast or he played the role too smug and mean — take your pick.) But Globers adore musicals and superstars, so they may not be able to resist him here. Robert Downey Jr. ("Sherlock Holmes") has a good shot, but it's not the kind of pretentious, mugging role voters usually like. I've heard votes for both and can't predict the outcome.
Nobody has a clue about two races: best comedy/musical picture and best drama actress. They're a toss-up.
Musicals usually win best comedy/musical picture automatically, but the bad buzz on "Nine" (which many HFPA members actually liked, according to my snooping) could hurt. "The Hangover" seems like a logical alternative, but Globe voters usually shun frat-boyish laffers; they didn't even nominate "Knocked Up" or "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." "It's Complicated" is admired and packed with A-list stars, so that's why I think it'll win by default, but I'm not basing that prediction on actual votes I've heard cast for it within HFPA. Votes are all over the place in this race.
Ditto for best drama actress, which is a three-way smackdown among Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious").
Looks like Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") has the screenplay prize. "Avatar" probably has score. We don't know who's ahead in the song and foreign-film contests.
I've heard no spy reports on vote tallies in the TV races. Sorry!
Note: An earlier version of this item referred to Mo'Nique's absence from the HFPA press conference for "Precious" which she did attend.
Photos: "Avatar" (20th Century Fox), "Up in the Air" (Paramount), "Inglourious Basterds" (Weinstein Co.)