Could ‘Into the Woods’ upset ‘Birdman’ at musical-mad Golden Globes?

With whopping 2/11 odds, “Birdman” is the overwhelming favorite to win the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy Picture, but are we underestimating “Into the Woods” (ranked third with 20/1 odds)? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association often can’t resist a musical.

Will Golden Globes frontrunner Emily Blunt (‘Into the Woods’) contend at Oscars too?

The Globes often like to establish themselves as one of the pivotal first stops on the awards campaign trail, so it’s usually safe to bet on the films and performances that look the strongest for Oscars. That certainly benefits “Birdman,” which ranks second in our current Oscar odds for Best Picture, right behind “Boyhood,” which competes in the separate Globes race for dramas. And “Birdman” has more nominations than any other film, comedy or drama.

So it should be a slam dunk, right?

Possibly, but we’d do well to remember that Globes voters are suckers for musicals. They nominate tuners for Best Picture even when they’ve taken a beating from critics, like “The Phantom of the Opera” (2004), “Mamma Mia!” (2008), “Nine” (2009), and “Burlesque” (2010).

But if a musical is well received, as “Into the Woods” has been, then watch out, because they often win, even against films that turn out to be bigger Oscar players.

James Lapine on adapting Broadway musical ‘Into the Woods’ for big screen [Podcast]

In 1996, the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Evita” won Best Musical/Comedy Picture. Two of its rivals, “Fargo” and “Jerry Maguire,” ended up with Oscar nominations for Best Picture, but the academy snubbed “Evita” in the top race. Its star, Madonna, won Best Musical/Comedy Actress, but while she was also snubbed by the academy, her Globes rival, Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) became Oscar’s Best Actress winner.

The Globes picked a musical again in 2001: “Moulin Rouge.” It faced “Gosford Park” at the Globes, but even though both films earned Oscar bids for Best Picture, “Gosford” may have had more overall support from the academy, since it also earned nominations for writing and directing; “Moulin” didn’t.

Another musical won the very next year: “Chicago.” But that wasn’t an anomaly. It went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars too.

“Dreamgirls” won the Golden Globe in 2006. It was expected to be a major player at the Oscars as well, but the academy thought differently, leaving it out of their Best Picture lineup. However, its Globes rival “Little Miss Sunshine” did make the cut in the Oscars’ top race.

“Sweeney Todd” suffered a similar fate in 2007, winning the Golden Globe but passed over at the Oscars in favor of its indie-comedy Globes rival “Juno.”

Most recently, “Les Miserables” trumped “Silver Linings Playbook” at the Globes, but both were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

“Into the Woods,” like “Sweeney Todd,” is based on a musical by beloved composer Stephen Sondheim. It’s also a hit, as of this writing earning more than $90 million at the domestic box office since opening on Christmas. It has also scored a respectable 69 on Metacritic and 71% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes – not nearly as high as “Birdman’s” scores, but as good as or better than some of the Globes’ past musical champs, including “Les Mis.”

Do you think “Into the Woods” will pull off an upset? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions, or click here to predict the rest of this year’s Globe races, as well as the SAG Awards, Critics’ Choice, Oscars, and more.

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