Hollywood heats up with Oscar nominations, Golden Globes ceremony

* 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

Lawrence.

"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

said.

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)

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