Predicting the Golden Globe Best Drama Film Winner

Even the most devoted aficionados of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association must admit that a Golden Globe Awards pool doesn't hold much of a candle to the game of Oscar predictions... but that doesn't mean you can't sharpen your skills on the whetstone that is the January ceremony in order to enter your inevitable Academy gambling ring in tip top shape. So what's the best way to guess the big winners at the Golden Globes? Getting a sense of the HFPA's proclivities sure doesn't hurt.

Let's take this year's Best Motion Picture - Drama category, for example. This year, we have five nominated films: Richard Linklater's coming-of-age story Boyhood, about all American boy Mason and his wonderfully unremarkable family; the slow, bleak, and foreboding drama Foxcatcher, which draws the animals out from inside Channing Tatum and Steve Carell; the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring The Imitation Game, a biopic about code-breaking genius Alan Turing who was persecuted by his home country of Great Britain for his homosexuality; Selma, Ava DuVernay's biting illustration of Martin Luther King's civil rights marches through 1965 Alabama; and the disease- and domestic affairs-focused story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything.

Kudos to you if you already have your winner jotted down, influenced by awards buzz or gut alone. But based on the principal characteristics of each of these films, and on the categorical habits of the Golden Globes, what should we expect to see taking home the trophy on Sunday?

Boyhood

The 12-years-in-the-making film — the ambling story of an average American boy growing up alongside his average American family at the dawn of the 20th century — is a top tier favorite to win the Best Picture Oscar. But how will it fare at the Golden Globes?

Of the 63 films to thus far win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama...

...13 have been stories about families (American Beauty, The Descendants, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, East of Eden, The Exorcist, The Godfather, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Lion in Winter, On Golden Pond, Ordinary People, Rain Man, Sense and Sensibility, Terms of Endearment),...three have been coming-of-age stories (Forrest Gump, The Last Emperor, Slumdog Millionaire),...and only one has been set in Texas (Terms of Endearment).

Foxcatcher

Despite heated anticipation prior to release, Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher — which stars Steve Carell as psychologically unbalanced millionaire John E. du Pont and Channing Tatum as his protegee/obsession, Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz — has not exactly been a favorite of critics and fans. But does that necessarily mean it'll be D.O.A. come Globes time? ...Well, according to these numbers, probably.

Of the 63 films to thus far win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama...

...only one has been about sports (Rocky),...and only one has taken place in Pennsylvania (again, Rocky).

The Imitation Game

While a more or less well-received entity, the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game — which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the logistical genius who used his code-breaking skills to help the English army trounce the Nazis in World War II, only to be later persecuted by his own government due to his homosexuality — has received its share of flack for glossing over Britain's ultimate betrayal of this tragically wronged hero. Could this affront cost it a Globe?

Of the 63 films to thus far win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama...

...13 have taken place during a time of war (Argo, Atonement, Avatar, Born on the Fourth of July, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Cardinal, Doctor Zhivago, Forrest Gump, The Guns of Navarone, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List), with three of those being World War II (The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone, Saving Private Ryan),...nine have been set in England (Anne of the Thousand Days, Atonement, Becket, The English Patient, The Hours, The Lion in Winter, A Man for All Seasons, Sense and Sensibility, Titanic),...four have been portraits of geniuses (Amadeus, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind, The Social Network),...and only one has focused on gay characters (Brokeback Mountain).

Selma

Despite an oddly quiet lead-up of anticipation, the holiday season release Selma — a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights marches through Alabama in 1965 — has turned up a beacon of universal celebration. But will this guarantee it awards favor?

Of the 63 films to thus far win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama...

...seven have offered illustrations of discrimination (12 Years a Slave, Ben-Hur, Brokeback Mountain, The Cardinal, In the Heat of the Night, Schindler's List, Slumdog Millionaire),...five have been stories in which race has been a principal theme (12 Years a Slave, The Cardinal, Dances with Wolves, The Defiant Ones, In the Heat of the Night),...and three have been stories about domestic American history (12 Years a Slave, Dances with Wolves, and Forrest Gump).

The Theory of Everything

Finally, The Theory of Everything: a film that has been lauded for its lead performance — Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking, the renowned astrophysics genius stricken with complete paralysis following a diagnosis with ALS — but criticized for neglecting to focus on Hawking's monumental scientific work. Does it have a chance at the trophy?

Of the 63 films to thus far win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama...

...12 have focused on the theme of marriage (American Beauty, Anne of the Thousand Days, Brokeback Mountain, The Cardinal, The Descendants, Kramer vs. Kramer, A Man for All Seasons, On Golden Pond, Ordinary People, Rocky, Sense and Sensibility, Terms of Endearment),...11 have involved some kind of disease or disability in a major way (The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind, The Descendants, The English Patient, Forrest Gump, The Hours, Love Story, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Rain Man, Scent of a Woman, Terms of Endearment),...nine have been set in England (Anne of the Thousand Days, Atonement, Becket, The English Patient, The Hours, The Lion in Winter, A Man for All Seasons, Sense and Sensibility, Titanic),...and four have been portraits of geniuses (Amadeus, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind, The Social Network).

Final scores

So what does this tell us?

The Theory of Everything: 36The Imitation Game: 30Boyhood: 17Selma: 15Foxcatcher: 2 (although, let me remind everyone, that both of those points are because of Rocky)

If we're to relegate the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to a plateau of predictability, we might be seeing The Theory of Everything get its (arguably undeserved) award this year, with The Imitation Game as second most likely. But could we see a break from routine with a win for Selma or Boyhood? I certainly hope so.

Images: Universal Pictures (2); IFC Films; Sony Pictures Classics; The Weinstein Company; Paramount Pictures