LOS ANGELES- Steven Spielberg is hoping for Golden Globes glory for his political drama “Lincoln” on Sunday, as Hollywood hits the red carpet for its biggest pre-Oscars awards show.
The veteran director’s presidential biopic is nominated in seven categories, ahead of Ben Affleck’s Iran drama “Argo” and Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti Western tribute “Django Unchained,” both with five nods.
Taiwanese-American Ang Lee is also up for best movie with his sumptuous 3D adventure “Life of Pi,” as is Oscar-winning Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial Osama bin Laden manhunt movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”
US TV comedy favorites Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will co-host the Globes at the Beverly Hilton hotel, after three years of edgy British comic Ricky Gervais taking barbed shots at the assembled A-listers.
“Our job is to keep the evening going and make it fun. Not necessarily to break comedic ground or take people down a peg,” quipped Fey, famous for impersonating former US vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Spielberg’s film won a major boost just days before Sunday’s show, when it topped the nominations announced Thursday for the all-important Academy Awards next month, shortlisted in 12 Oscar categories.
“Lincoln” star Daniel Day-Lewis is favorite for best actor, against Denzel Washington for piloting “Flight” while drunk, Richard Gere for “Arbitrage,” John Hawkes for “The Sessions” and Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master.”
Best actress is slightly more open: Jessica Chastain is widely tipped for her role as a CIA agent relentlessly tracking bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty,” while France’s Marion Cotillard has drawn praise for for “Rust and Bone.”
But Britain’s Helen Mirren is also a strong contender as a cinema legend’s wife in “Hitchcock.” Also in the running are Naomi Watts for Indian Ocean tsunami drama “The Impossible” and Rachel Weisz for “The Deep Blue Sea.”
Other drama films tipped include Tom Hooper’s musical adaptation “Les Miserables,” dark rom-com “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” which tied for third place with four Globes nods.
The awards are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of less than 100 members seen as more celebrity-driven than the esteemed Academy of Motion and Picture Arts and Sciences, whose Oscars show is on February 24.
Reflecting the perhaps less high-brow taste of the HFPA, Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” which picked up 11 Oscar nominations, is running in only three Globes categories.
On the comedy and musical front, best film nominees are Indian-themed “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Les Miserables,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” starring Ewan McGregor.
Best comedy/music actor nods went to Jack Black for “Bernie,” “Hangover” star Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings,” Australian Hugh Jackman for “Les Mis,” McGregor for “Salmon Fishing” and Bill Murray for “Hyde Park on Hudson.”
Three British actresses are shortlisted for best comedy or musical turns: Emily Blunt for “Salmon Fishing,” Judi Dench for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and fellow veteran Maggie Smith for “Quartet.”
On the small screen, multiple award-winning British period drama “Downton Abbey” was nominated for best drama, against “Breaking Bad,” “Boardwalk Empire,” spy thriller series “Homeland” and “The Newsroom.”
The three-hour Globes telecast, beamed live around the world, starts at 5:00 pm Sunday (0100 GMT Monday).