When it comes to the awards season, we are invariably left with just two movies slugging it out against each other for the major honours. Last year, the main bout was The Hurt Locker vs Avatar. This year, if the Golden Globe nominations are an accurate measure, the antagonists will be The King's Speech (seven nominations) and The Social Network (six). It is the stuttering Brits against the Yankee nerds. The battle between them will only finally be resolved on Oscar night in February.
Though the many nods in the direction of The King's Speech and The Social Network were predictable, the Golden Globes has thrown a few curve balls. One of the main surprises is the strong showing for Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Tourist, which has received lukewarm reviews. Both its stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp (also mysteriously nominated for Alice in Wonderland), are up for awards.
Another mystery is the complete omission of the Coen brothers' majestic western, True Grit.
Perhaps the strangest oversight of all is in the Foreign Language category where Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods And Men (a Grand Prix winner in Cannes, a runaway box-office hit across Europe and a critics' favourite pretty much everywhere) has been snubbed.
The Hollywood Foreign Press used to be known for its willingness to take risks. This year, its selections do not seem daring or offbeat at all.