BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Far-out fantasy and ripped-from-the-headlines reality are in the running at Sunday night's Golden Globes, Hollywood's first major film honors that will help sort out the Academy Awards picture.
Contenders for best drama include two wildly make-believe adventures, the science-fiction spectacle "Avatar" and the war story "Inglourious Basterds," which rewrites the end of World War II with a gleefully vengeful bloodbath at a movie premiere.
Also competing are timely dramas of the war on terror ("The Hurt Locker") and economic hard times ("Up in the Air"), along with the grim but inspiring "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire," about a Harlem teen struggling to lift herself out of an abyss of illiteracy, abuse and neglect.
With stars sharing dinner and drinks, the Globes traditionally are a loose and relaxed affair compared to the courtly Oscars. Celebrities sometimes are caught more in reality-show mode — Jack Nicholson once mooned the crowd for a laugh, and Christine Lahti had to rush from the restroom to collect her Globe for the TV drama "Chicago Hope."
Also unlike other Hollywood film honors, the Globes feature categories for musicals and comedies along with dramas. Nominated for best musical or comedy are the Vegas bachelor romp "The Hangover," the Julia Child tale "Julie & Julia," the musical "Nine" and the romances "(500) Days of Summer" and "It's Complicated."
Among acting nominees are Meryl Streep for both "Julie & Julia" and "It's Complicated," Sandra Bullock for both "The Blind Side" and "The Proposal" and Matt Damon for both "The Informant!" and "Invictus."
Others include George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus," Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz for "Nine," Robert Downey Jr. for "Sherlock Holmes" and Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique for "Precious."
Martin Scorsese, who won the best-director Globe three years ago for "The Departed," is receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.
Sunday's winners could get a last-minute boost for the Oscars, whose nominations balloting closes Saturday. Oscar nominations come out Feb. 2, with the awards following on March 7.
Last year's big Globe winner, "Slumdog Millionaire," went on to dominate the Oscars.
The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets. The show airs live on NBC.