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Expect the Unexpected: 5 Things to Watch for at the Golden Globes

Sunday's awards broadcast, with first-time host Jimmy Fallon, is poised to stoke the Hollywood buzz machine.

The Golden Globe Awards arrive on NBC Sunday night with host Jimmy Fallon to kick off the major awards season. Here are five things to watch for at what tends to be a loose and unpredictable affair:

Jimmy Fallon Makes His Mark

Seven years after Ricky Gervais poked the Globes back to life with his barbs, Fallon presumably will bring his gentler, more celebrity-friendly style to the broadcast. Fallon might not pack the pointed wit of four-time host Gervais or the one-two punch of the 2013 to 2015 Globes duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but look for him to use his trademark charm to wheedle laughs out of both the stars in the crowd and the folks at home.

Last year the Golden Globes red carpet was about sheer panels on dresses and lots of white, but 2016 will be all about color and bling. Tune in to catch it all.

It's unclear whether any tweaks are on tap for the relatively staid format. The "Tonight Show" star, though, is no doubt eager to put his own imprint on the Globes, which come seven weeks before his late night rival Jimmy Kimmel tackles the Academy Awards.

Hollywood Politics

Fallon isn't known for political humor, but current events likely will permeate the Globes as Donald Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration looms. It's all but inevitable that some winners will use the stage to weigh in on the next president, who is far from a Hollywood favorite. Leonardo DiCaprio’s impassioned plea last year to protect “indigenous lands from corporate interests” could be a harbinger of what’s to come Sunday.

Whether politically tinged speeches spark buzz or turn off the segments of home audience – or both – is anybody's guess (much like the course of the next four years).

O.J. – and TV – Run Away With the Show

The Globes are widely seen as the pre-Oscars, but this could be the year that the small screen overshadows the big screen. Television is coming off another strong year, with "Westworld," "Stranger Things" and "This is Us" among the breakout shows. Look for the excellent “The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” miniseries to rule multiple categories, as it did at the Emmys.

Oscar Betting Tips

Yes, television might dominate the night. But the Globes still are poised to set the Oscar predictions race into high gear, with critical favorites "Moonlight" and “Manchester by the Sea” up for big awards.

Globes winners for best drama or best musical/comedy matched subsequent Academy Award Best Picture picks three out of the most recent five years. Still, who can tell in a year where the ultra-violent anti-hero superhero flick "Deadpool" made the Globes' best musical/comedy category.

Expect the Unexpected 

From the bizarre "Deadpool" nod to Pia Zadora's infamous 1982 “new star of the year” win for "Butterfly" to Gervais' awkward (and censored) encounter last year with feuding partner Mel Gibson, the Globes toss its share of knuckleballs. 

But that's the fun of the Golden Globes: Keep the crowd off-balance and give them plenty to talk about, long after the final award.

Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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