This field is considered wide open, especially since the HFPA has admitted as many as seven titles to its top categories in the recent past.
Classic precursor: ’89 winner “Driving Miss Daisy,” except the guy winning the cranky Southern biddy’s heart is young, white and murders her.
If not the big one: With 18 nominations and seven wins, Shirley MacLaine could easily slip into the supporting category.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Classic precursor: Oldsters gain new lease on life in magical overseas setting, a la ’92 nominee “Enchanted April.”
If not the big one: Maggie Smith is outstanding as cranky bigot who learns brotherhood.
Classic precursor: To find another Globe nominee taking late-middle-age romance quite so seriously, you have to go back to 1960’s “The Grass Is Greener.”
If not the big one: Would anyone be surprised if Meryl Streep racked up nomination #27, in comedy field?
“Hyde Park on Hudson”
Classic precursor: Picks up where ’60 nominee “Sunrise at Campobello” leaves off, concentrating on FDR’s ebullience and minimizing the portrait’s warts.
If not the big one: Bill Murray should garner a lot of votes.
Classic precursor: ’04 nominee “The Phantom of the Opera” was another cinemadaptation of a world-famous, Paris-set, through-sung musical smash.
If not the big one: As Jean Valjean, popular Hugh Jackman could bring it home.
Classic precursor: Together with ’97 nominee “The Full Monty,” pretty much covers men’s motivations for stripping for pay.
If not the big one: His amusing turn jump-started Matthew McConaughey’s career resurgence.
Classic precursor: ’03 nominee “Big Fish”: similar twee magical realism; similar late-inning emotional shift.
If not the big one: Bruce Willis plays against type in puppydog supporting role.
“Not Fade Away”
Classic precursor: “The Commitments,” ’91 nominee celebrating the joys and sorrows of garage band-dom.
If not the big one: Any original soundtrack songs would have a good chance.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Classic precursor: Teens under major psychological stress, reminiscent of ’61 drama nominee “Splendor in the Grass.”
If not the big one: Emma Watson is a foreign press fave, if they can agree on whether she’s supporting or lead.
Classic precursor: Verdi rejuvenates seniors as much as the swimming pool in ’87 nominee “Cocoon.”
If not the big one: Pauline Collins is heartbreaking in supporting role.
“Rock of Ages”
Classic precursor: Covers the same ’70s milieu as ’98 nominee “Still Crazy,” albeit in the U.S. and more cartoony.
If not the big one: The overseas journalists don’t stop believing in Tom Cruise (three wins; four additional noms), so there may be supporting love for his louche, lanky Stacee Jaxx.
Classic precursor: Like ’02 nominee “Adaptation,” a whimsical whatsit centering on a writer’s fevered imagination.
If not the big one: Scripter-thesp Zoe Kazan could be the perennial “new face” in the lead actress category.
Classic precursor: Cheerful gorefest from Martin McDonagh, auteur of ’08 cheerful gorefest nominee “In Bruges.”
If not the big one: McDonagh’s screenplay.
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Classic precursor: ’60 winner “The Apartment”: Troubled boy meets troubled girl, and somehow everything works out all right.
If not the big one: Acknowledgment of Russell’s smart, quotable screenplay would be the silver lining.
“This Is 40”
Classic precursor: Wrestles with relationship issues similar to those in ’81 nominee “The Four Seasons.”
If not the big one: Paul Rudd is overdue, and if the role offers the chance for some conspicuous thesping he could bag a nomination at last.