* Golden Globes take place after Oscar nominations this year
* Six films seen as Globe/Oscar front-runners
* Actor Daniel Day-Lewis seems only sure bet so far
LOS ANGELES, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Hollywood award season
moves into high gear this week as a slew of televised
nominations and award shows trip over one another in the race
for attention, kudos and one-upmanship.
With Oscar nominations on Thursday, the Golden Globes
ceremony in Beverly Hills on Sunday, and the annual People's
Choice and Critics Choice shows wedged in on Wednesday and
Thursday evenings, stars, pundits and fans have an embarrassment
of movie riches to savor.
The already busy awards schedule has taken on a new look
this year with Oscar nominations being announced before the
annual Golden Globes ceremony, instead of afterward.
"This is partially an attempt to blunt the impact of the
Globes on the part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences," Pete Hammond, awards columnist for entertainment
website Deadline.com, said of the earlier nominations date.
"I think the Academy gets very frustrated that by the time
you get to the Oscars in February, there have been so many
awards shows and speeches, some of the luster is taken off. This
is a way of stealing the attention back," Hammond told Reuters.
Six movies and a handful of actors are commanding the buzz
in this week's races, the results of which will narrow the field
for Oscar glory on Feb. 24.
"Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's controversial thriller
about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, Iran hostage
drama "Argo," epic musical "Les Miserables," presidential drama
"Lincoln," Quentin Tarantino's violent slavery Western "Django
Unchained" and quirky comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" are all
expected to get Oscar nominations on Thursday morning.
TOO CLOSE TO CALL - EXCEPT FOR DAY-LEWIS
All six films are also in the running to take home a Golden
Globe on Sunday in a race pundits call too close to call - in
all but one category.
The one sure bet is that British-born Daniel Day-Lewis will
win the Golden Globe for his quiet but powerful performance as
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln - and probably the Oscar next
month, awards watchers said.
The other categories are another matter.
"I can see the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA)
spreading the wealth around many different films for the Golden
Globes," said Dave Karger, chief movie correspondent at Fandango
and host of its "The Frontrunners" online show.
"If that happens, it speaks to how wide and even the field
is this year. There's not one or even two movies out in front,
but five or even six, and I can't recall a year like that."
"Lincoln" and "Argo" appear to be the Globe best drama
front-runners, but "Django Unchained," which won a surprise five
nominations from the HFPA, could prove an upset.
"'Django Unchained' is a real wild card. It remains to be
seen how much the Academy will love it," said Karger. "As far as
shock of night (on Sunday), there could be some big wins for
'Django,' but the safe money is on 'Lincoln.'"
GLOBES FIRST BIG TEST FOR BIN LADEN MOVIE
Sunday's Globes ceremony, and the Oscar nominations, will be
prove a test of the largely negative publicity surrounding the
torture scenes in "Zero Dark Thirty" and the possibly secret
sources used by the filmmakers to reconstruct the hunt for and
May 2011 killing of the al Qaeda leader.
"There is so much controversy around 'Zero Dark Thirty,'
it's hard to assess the impact of some of the negative publicity
its gotten after being denounced by U.S. senators. It will have
an early test to see how that goes this week," Hammond said.
Despite the furor in Washington, Jessica Chastain is widely
expected to earn an Oscar nomination, and take home the Golden
Globe, for best dramatic actress for her role as the determined
CIA agent credited with tracking down bin Laden.
Unlike the Academy Awards, the Globes have a separate
category for comedies or musicals, setting up a battle between
"Les Mis" and its stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, and
"Silver Linings Playbook" actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer
"If 'Les Mis' loses to 'Silver Linings Playbook' on Sunday,
that's a big wow! - the big musical lost to the little
independent comedy. Universal Pictures is counting on the Globes
to give 'Les Mis' momentum going forward to the Oscars," Hammond
Karger said the choices of the HFPA were "often a little
more oddball, sometimes a little artier" than those of the 6,000
members of the Academy who select the Oscar winners. That makes
the Globes harder to predict, and an often unreliable indicator
of future success at the Oscars.
"I think in a lot of categories at the Globes, people will
generally be surprised who wins, and unsure of who is going to
win," Karger said.
The People's Choice awards on Wednesday are voted on by fans
and tend to reward the stars of blockbuster movies like "The
Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" rather than films favored by
movie writers or Oscar voters.
"Lincoln" leads all nominations for the Critics Choice Movie
Awards, with a record 13 nods, ahead of "Les Miserables" with
11. Those awards are handed out on Thursday night by the
Broadcast Film Critics Association, which represents more than
270 U.S. television, radio and online critics.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Peter Cooney)