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January 12, 2014

Golden kickoff: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler return as hosts of 71st annual Golden Globe awards

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler return as hosts of 71st annual Golden Globe awards

Each awards show during Awards Season offers something a little different.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are fun and casual (and often drunken). The People's Choice Awards give movies like “The Hunger Games” their day in the sun. And the Academy Awards, which puts the period at the end of the season, are the elite.

Second to the Oscars, my favorite awards show is the Golden Globe Awards, which kicks off red-carpet season 7 p.m. tonight on NBC.

The show always seems to strike the perfect balance between Hollywood glam and not taking itself too seriously. You will often see celebrities milling about and mingling, sipping champagne and laughing at the (usually) hilarious hosts, with this year featuring the return of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

The duo led the broadcast to 19.7 million viewers last year, which was a significant bump for the Globes.

It's too early for me to make predictions for winners; I'll save that for my annual Oscars feature. But here are the facts on this year's list of Golden Globe nominees.

Leading the nominations

Heaping seven nominations on both the con-artist melodrama "American Hustle" and the grimly historical "12 Years a Slave," the Golden Globes nominations set up a showdown of contrasts: comedy and drama, light and dark, white and black.

The two films were validated as Academy Awards front-runners, refining what had been a scattered awards season in a year many consider encouragingly plentiful of worthy movies.

The differences between the two top-nominees are vast. While David O. Russell's fictionalized caper "American Hustle" takes a playful, exaggerated approach to an already outlandish story (the FBI's scandal-uncovering Abscam investigation in the disco 1970s), Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," based on Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, is unflinching in its portrait of Southern slavery — a subject Hollywood has seldom depicted rigorously or truthfully.

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