Golden Globes 2023: Elvis battles Avatar sequel for top honours as awards season kicks off in Hollywood

Elvis and Avatar
Baz Luhrmann's flashy Elvis biopic is taking on the blue aliens of Avatar. Photo credit: Supplied

The flashy Elvis biopic and sci-fi blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water battle for the top honor at the Golden Globes on Wednesday when stars return to a ceremony trying to rebuild its reputation after scandals.

The Golden Globes will be back on US television after celebrities and broadcaster NBC abandoned the 2022 show because of ethical lapses at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that hands out the awards.

A larger and more diverse membership and other changes by the HFPA convinced many of the biggest movie and TV stars to support this year's ceremony, which provides publicity for winners and nominees and often boosts their chances at the Oscars.

Big names expected to walk the red carpet include Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis, directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, and Elvis star Austin Butler, a favorite for a best actor trophy.

"I think we're going to see Elvis win and Austin Butler win," said Chris Beachum, managing editor of awards website Gold Derby. Golden Globes voters "have proven time and time again that they love spectacles and they love musicals."

Elvis is in the running for top drama film against The Way of Water, the long-awaited Avatar sequel that is lighting up movie box offices; Steven Spielberg's coming-of-age film The Fabelmans and Tar, starring Cate Blanchett as a conniving orchestra conductor.

Top Gun: Maverick also is in the mix, though its chances were likely hurt by star Tom Cruise returning his Globe statues in protest in 2021, Beachum said.

Cruise was reacting to a Los Angeles Times investigation that revealed the HFPA had no Black journalists in its ranks and accused members of soliciting favours from celebrities and movie studios. He is not expected to attend the show.

The Banshees of Inisherin, which has more nominations than any other movie, is seen as the leading contender for best comedy or musical film.

Comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the three-hour ceremony, while Eddie Murphy will receive a lifetime achievement honor. Director Quentin Tarantino and actor Jamie Lee Curtis are listed among presenters.

Actor Sean Penn also will introduce a video message from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.

In TV categories, Abbott Elementary racked up the most nominations and is considered a leader for best comedy.

Roughly 200 journalists and others from the international film industry voted on this year's Globes. Among those voters, nearly 52% are racially and ethnically diverse, including 10% who are Black, according to the HFPA.

- Reuters