Usually, the Globe is a fairly good Oscar crystal ball. However, this year, even if you give it a good shake, the Globe will probably be cloudy if you want to peer into Oscar’s future.
Two of the top contenders for Best Actor -- Daniel Day Lewis ("Lincoln") and Hugh Jackman ("Les Miserables") -- will not be competing against each other at the Golden Globes. The same is true of the top Best Actress contenders: Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook") and Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty").
The Globes split their lead acting awards into two different categories: Drama and Musical/Comedy. Day-Lewis and Chastain will compete in Lead Actor and Actress in a Drama, while Jackman and Lawrence will compete in the Musical/Comedy categories.
Oscar's Best Actor race has often been between the two contenders who won Golden Globes. In 2003, Sean Penn and Bill Murray duked it out for their performances in "Mystic River" and "Lost in Translation," respectively. Both won Golden Globes -- Penn in the Drama category, Murray in Musical/Comedy. Penn went on to take the Oscar.
Last year, this same scenario played out between George Clooney for "The Descendants" (Globe winner, best drama) and Jean Dujardin for "The Artist" (comedy/musical). Clooney was favored to win SAG next, but Dujardin took that prize, and eventually won the Oscar.
In 2010, Natalie Portman won the drama Globe for "Black Swan" while Annette Bening took the comedy category for "The Kids Are All Right." Although Bening was a sentimental favorite to win a long-overdue Oscar, Portman claimed both SAG and Academy Awards.
In 2007, Globe voters flipped their usual preference. Julie Christie won both the drama Globe and SAG trophy for "Away from Her," but at the Oscars she lost to Marion Cotillard, who previously won the Globe in the comedy/musical race for "La Vie en Rose."
On rare occasions, neither of the Globe champs wins that chunk of academy gold. In 2002, Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York") and Jack Nicholson ("About Schmidt") split the Globes for drama and comedy, respectively, but Adrien Brody ("The Pianist") pulled off a shockeroo on Oscar night.
There are no clear-cut rules. Sometimes – as in the cases of Clooney vs. Dujardin, Bullock vs. Streep, Portman vs. Bening, or Penn vs. Murray – SAG has been the deciding factor. Other times – as in the cases of Nicholson vs. Day-Lewis and Christie vs. Cotillard – it has not.
Currently, our experts have Day-Lewis ranked at number 1 to win with odds of 17/10, while Jackman ranks fourth with odds of 15/2. Lawrence leads the Best Actress pack with odds of 9/5, but Chastain is behind with odds of 9/2.
Day-Lewis may be hurt by the fact that he's already won two Oscars (for "My Left Foot" in 1989 and "There Will Be Blood" in 2007), while Jackman has never even been nominated.
In the past two years, the award for Best Actor has gone hand in hand with Best Picture (Colin Firth for "The King's Speech" and Dujardin for "The Artist"), so if "Lincoln" or "Les Miserables" win Best Picture, the coattails effect who help Day-Lewis or Jackman.
In the case of Lawrence and Chastain, the race is a bit thicker. Both are beautiful young ingénues on the rise in Hollywood, which fits the profile of The Babe Factor, which usually decides the Oscar champ. Both are previous nominees -- Lawrence for "Winter's Bone" in 2010, Chastain for "The Help" in 2011. And both are in strong Best Picture contenders. Unless either wins the lion's share of precursor awards, we won't know for sure who's in the lead until the envelope is opened.