Hollywood hits the red carpet Sunday for the 71st annual Golden Globes, with a packed cast of A-list nominees vying to win the first major honors of Tinseltown's annual awards season.
Harrowing saga 12 Years a Slave and crime caper American Hustle are likely frontrunners at the Globes,
which -- unlike the season-closing Oscars in March -- are split between dramas and musical/comedy films.
The race for glory features the strongest field in years, with other contenders including 3D space drama Gravity, Somali piracy tale Captain Phillips, and Martin Scorsese's scandal epic The Wolf of Wall Street.
On the small screen -- increasingly important as big-screen stars and money migrate to television -- Netflix's pioneering House of Cards could win more gold, as could cult hit Breaking Bad, after its finale in September.
Comedy stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Globes for a second year, while a string of nominees including Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio and Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence will be among those handing out prizes.
Going into Sunday night's show in Beverly Hills, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle have the most nominations with seven nods each, followed by five for black and white road movie Nebraska.
Both frontrunners garnered nods for their main actors, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, and Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Lawrence for American Hustle.
Captain Phillips starring Hanks in the true story of a US cargo ship attacked by Somali hijackers, and Gravity, with Bullock as an astronaut abandoned in space with George Clooney, won four nods apiece.
In the drama race, 12 Years a Slave, based on a real story of a free black man abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s, is up against Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena and Rush.
Nominated for best drama actor are Ejiofor, Hanks, Idris Elba for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club and Robert Redford for All Is Lost.
A trio of British actresses are vying for the drama award -- Emma Thompson in Saving Mr Banks, Judi Dench for Philomena and Kate Winslet for Labor Day -- along with Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Bullock.
For best musical or comedy film the shortlist is American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street starring DiCaprio.
Best musical or comedy actor nominees include DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix for Her and Meryl Streep for August: Osage County, as well as the American Hustle cast members.
Best director nominees are Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, David O. Russell for American Hustle, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips and Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave.
On the foreign film front, sexually explicit Cannes-winning French movie Blue is the Warmest Color is up against Iran's The Past, Italy's The Great Beauty, Denmark's The Hunt and animated Japanese film The Wind Rises.
On the television side, fans of Breaking Bad will be hoping it can beat rival nominees Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, House of Cards and Masters of Sex.
The Globes are run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), and voted on by barely 80 journalists -- in contrast to the Oscars, chosen by 6,000 members of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave have had a series of boosts in recent weeks, winning nominations from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
In the last 10 years, all but one of the winners of the DGA's top prize went on to win the best director Oscar.
12 Years a Slave also topped nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, announced last month.
Nominations for the Oscars will be announced next Thursday, January 16. The Academy Awards will be held on March 2.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.