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Posted at 1:44 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Golden Globes 2011: Predicting the lead acting winners

By Jen Chaney

Natalie Portman, eyeing a potential win on Golden Globe Sunday. (Fox Searchlight)

Yesterday I laid out my Golden Globe Award predictions in the screenplay, directing and supporting actor categories.

Today we move on to the lead actor and actress categories in both the drama and musical/comedy categories. Will James Franco beat Colin Firth on Sunday night? Does any actress stand a chance against Natalie Portman's performance in "Black Swan"? Can Johnny Depp in "Alice in Wonderland" prevail over ... um ... Johnny Depp in "The Tourist"?

Technically I don't have the real answers. But that certainly didn't stop me from making the following educated guesses. And it shouldn't stop you either; polls that allow readers to make their own predictions follow this latest round of prognostication.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Comedy or Musical

Your nominees are:

Johnny Depp -- "Alice in Wonderland"
Johnny Depp -- "The Tourist"
Paul Giamatti -- "Barney's Version"
Jake Gyllenhaal -- "Love and Other Drugs"
Kevin Spacey -- "Casino Jack"

Your winner will be: Johnny Depp for "Alice in Wonderland." Why? Because the Hollywood Foreign Press loves Depp, enough to nominate the guy twice in a movie year that wasn't even one of his strongest. (For those keeping score, he's been nominated for eight previous Globes and won once, for "Sweeney Todd.") The voters would look silly rewarding his performance in the less-than-well-received "Tourist," but less so for praising his off-kilter work in one of the year's biggest blockbusters. Of course, there's a chance that a Gyllenhaal or Giamatti (who, honestly, probably is the most deserving nominee in this category) could become a surprise winner. But when in doubt at the Golden Globes, always go Depp.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Comedy or Musical

Your nominees are:

Annette Bening -- "The Kids Are All Right"
Anne Hathaway -- "Love and Other Drugs"
Angelina Jolie -- "The Tourist"
Julianne Moore -- "The Kids Are All Right"
Emma Stone -- "Easy A"

And your winner will be: Annette Bening. Bening has a decent shot at an Oscar nomination this year, assuming that fellow prognosticators and online buzz can be believed. That isn't necessarily the case for the other four actresses recognized here. And almost without fail, whoever wins here goes on to earn an Academy Award nod and, in some cases, even win the Oscar. This seems like Bening's to lose.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Drama

Your nominees are:

Jesse Eisenberg -- "The Social Network"
Colin Firth -- "The King's Speech"
James Franco -- "127 Hours"
Ryan Gosling -- "Blue Valentine"
Mark Wahlberg -- "The Fighter"

And your winner will be: Colin Firth. Like the supporting actress race, this is a somewhat difficult one to call. Eisenberg could be a dark horse, but ultimately, I think the winner comes down to Firth vs. Franco. A strong case could be made for either one.

Both delivered excellent performances as men trying to overcome seemingly insurmountable, albeit vastly different obstacles. Franco won his first major award at the Golden Globes, when the Foreign Press honored his TV-movie role as James Dean back in 2002. This would provide a nice opportunity to demonstrate how much he's grown as an actor since then. But I have to go with Firth, a respected British actor who has never won a Globe and tackles an awards-season-ready role in "Speech" with admirable restraint and reserve.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -- Drama

Your nominees are:

Halle Berry -- "Frankie and Alice"
Nicole Kidman -- "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence -- "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman -- "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams -- "Blue Valentine"

And your winner will be: Natalie Portman. I don't mean to imply that the other ladies in this category are not deserving. They certainly are. But if Portman doesn't win on Sunday night, the shock may cause me to sprout feathers and turn into a psychotic-yet-elegant bird.

Now it's your turn to play the prediction game via these handy and terribly scientific online polls. Also, don't forget to return to Celebritology tomorrow for my predictions in the best picture and TV show categories.

Related coverage: Golden Globe predictions in the screenplay, directing and supporting actor categories

By Jen Chaney  | January 13, 2011; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  Awards Season, Movies  | Tags:  Golden Globes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Big Love' returns to TV on the worst night ever
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Most of these categories clearly demonstrate why the Golden Globes are a JOKE.

The comedy/musical actor category features a performance in a movie that was niether funny nor a musical (The Tourist) and a movie that hasn't even officially been released in North America ("Barney's Version," which is set for limited release tomorrow), thus not even eligible for the Oscars. I'd have to go for Jake Gyllenhaal just on principle because it was the only performance that would be nominated in a similar Oscar category.

Annette Bening will win the actress comedy/musical trophy that has yet another performance nominated from a film that is neither funny or a musical. Secretly I'd like to see Emma Stone win, because she's been completely overlooked for most of her career to date, but Bening wins in one of the biggest locks of the night.

Similarly, I'd like to see James Franco win for his riviting portrayal in "127 Hours," but there's no doubt that the Globes will honor Colin Firth for his solid performance. If Jeff Bridges were actually nominated in this category like he should have been, this would be a real competition.

The biggest lock of the night goes to Natalie Portman. The other actresses nominated in this category don't need to worry about writing speeches, and can get sloshed without having to worry about embarrassing themselves on stage.

Posted by: Russtinator | January 13, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Minor quibble: "Barney's Version" has been playing in Toronto* since Christmas Eve, I think.

*For you Lizards in Toronto, Ohio (pop. 5676), who are reading this and wondering, "WTF?", I meant the other Toronto - Ontario.

Posted by: byoolin1 | January 13, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: addjian16 | January 13, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Depp needs a bath. Portman (or Jennifer Lawrence from Winter's Born- excellent as well) are the best in drama. But portman's in every sceen and works hard.
Annette is very good and Furth has it tied up, soo..will not touch the boring male for comedy: nothing there.

Posted by: crrobin | January 15, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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