A still from 'A Star Is Born' film, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. (Warner Bros./-)
Hollywood's A-listers will hit the red carpet Sunday for the Golden Globes, the glitzy start to the entertainment industry's awards season, with popular music romance "A Star Is Born" the overwhelming favorite for top honors.
Even though Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" leads the nominations with six, it looks likely that "Star" -- and its power duo of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper -- will be the film that seizes the momentum ahead of next month's all-important Oscars.
"'A Star is Born' has everything going for it including box office and critical success," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at industry data firm ComScore, told AFP.
But he cautioned that the Globes -- which are handed out by the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association -- are notoriously unpredictable.
"That's what makes them so entertaining," he said. "This year's nominees across the major categories are all incredibly deserving so anything could happen."
This year, the Globes come at the start of voting for Oscar nominations, and while they are not a clear predictor of Academy Award success, they are a bellwether of momentum.
"There's almost always an element of surprise somewhere at the major award shows," says Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at boxoffice.com.
"'A Star Is Born' seems to be a favorite for best drama at the Globes, but it's hard to rule out an upset by a film like 'Black Panther' or possibly even 'BlacKkKlansman'."
If there is a sure bet on Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton, it is that Alfonso Cuaron's heartfelt "Roma," a cinematic ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, will take home honors for best foreign film. He is also up for best director.
"Cuaron is riding a huge wave of critical raves for 'Roma' and if there is any such thing as a frontrunner when it comes to the Globes, this is it," says Dergarabedian.
Competing against the Mexican filmmaker for the best director prize are Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman"), Peter Farrelly ("Green Book"), Adam McKay ("Vice") and Cooper, who made his debut behind the camera with "Star," directing himself.
For the experts polled by awards prediction website Gold Derby, "A Star Is Born" is a lock for best drama film, but Cuaron will take home top director honors.
Tight race for musical/comedy Globes
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes have parallel categories for dramas and musical/comedy films -- meaning two times the prizes, and a chance for Oscar voters to consider a wider range of performances.
Gaga could be a double winner, with nods for both best drama actress and best original song for the film's mega-hit, "Shallow."
Read also: List of key Golden Globe nominees
"A Star Is Born" recounts the tale of an aging rocker (Cooper) who discovers a struggling singer-songwriter (Gaga) and propels her to stardom, all while he is succumbing to hard drinking and his inner demons.
It's the fourth Hollywood version of the story, which originally hit theaters in 1937.
For best actor, Cooper is locked in a duel with Rami Malek, who portrays Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The field on the musical/comedy side is wider.
Beyond "Vice," top contenders include offbeat royal romp "The Favourite," civil rights dramedy "Green Book" and Disney sequel "Mary Poppins Returns."
Welsh actor Christian Bale, nearly unrecognizable as Cheney, is tipped to take home best actor honors, even as the film's mixed reviews have damaged its overall awards chances.
But he has stiff competition from Viggo Mortensen, who stars alongside Mahershala Ali in "Green Book" -- the story of a black classical pianist in 1960s America who hires an Italian-American bouncer as his driver for a tour of the racially divided South.
In the best musical/comedy actress race, Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Anne in "The Favourite" is up against Emily Blunt, who fills the shoes of Julie Andrews as the magical British nanny.
New faces in TV race
The Globes also honor the best in television -- it can feel a bit redundant after the Emmys in September, with many of the nominees mimicking the Television Academy field.
To wit, Emmy winner "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" topped the nominations with four.
But the Globes also look ahead at programs that aired too late for Emmys contention.
Dark HBO mini-series "Sharp Objects," Amazon drama "Homecoming" starring Julia Roberts, and Netflix comedy "The Kominsky Method" all earned nominations.
The 76th Golden Globes will begin at 5:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday) in Beverly Hills.
Hosting the gala will be actress Sandra Oh, who scored a nomination herself for acclaimed TV drama "Killing Eve," and comedian Andy Samberg.