(CNN) — Celebrities are making their way down the red carpet for Sunday's Golden Globes, shining in their beautiful finery.
Michelle Dockery of "Downton Abbey," Lupita Nyong'o of "12 Years a Slave" and Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" are among the stars who have already arrived for the awards at Beverly Hilton. (Nyong'o's flowing, bright red cape-like gown from Ralph Lauren was attracting a number of "aahs.") Their timing was right, too: Earlier this afternoon, a sprinkler malfunction dampened the red carpet, but officials cleaned it up and "the situation was quickly resolved," according to a press release.
As the countdown continues toward the awards, any number of questions are on Hollywood's collective mind.
Will best drama go to "12 Years a Slave" or "Gravity"? Will 77-year-old Robert Redford pick up a Globe for best actor in a drama -- his first Globe since winning new star of the year for 1965's "Inside Daisy Clover"? Will Steve McQueen ("12 Years") or Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity" ) or David O. Russell ("American Hustle") pick up the best director Globe? Will ...
Ah, forget it. The main question anyone wants to know is: How will Tina and Amy do?
That would be Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the hosts of this year's Hollywood Foreign Press Association shindig, who set a high bar for hosting after their job at last year's Golden Globes.
Fey and Poehler kept the audience -- both the one inside the Beverly Hilton and the worldwide television audience -- laughing with their jabs at nominees, previous host Ricky Gervais (who'd been criticized as mean-spirited) and the general loosey-goosey (alcoholic) spirit of the Globes, which prominently feature an open bar.
"Meryl Streep is not here tonight," said Poehler at one point. "She has the flu -- and I hear she's amazing in it."
Streep will probably be there tonight: She's nominated for best actress in a comedy or musical for her performance in "August: Osage County," which is her 28th nomination -- a Globe record by far. (She's won eight times, also a record.)
But the thing about the Globes is most of Hollywood tends to show up, drawn by the booze, the glamour, the publicity and the idea that a victory here may set the recipient on the road to that most coveted of Hollywood prizes, the Oscar.
As Goldderby.com awards expert Tom O'Neil observes, "The Golden Globe has often acted as a crystal ball revealing who'll sang Academy gold next and maybe even helping them to get it."
Funny how that works, considering that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association consists of about 100 entertainment journalists who sometimes have funny tastes. They were widely mocked after giving an award to Pia Zadora for new star of the year in the early '80s against competition that included Elizabeth McGovern and Kathleen Turner. (A little schmoozing by Zadora's producer husband, Meshulam Riklis, was said to have gone a long way.)
But in the ensuing years, the Globes have gotten to be a handy set of tea leaves, designating 17 of the past 20 best actor Oscar winners, for example. (It helps that the Globes give awards for dramas and comedy/musicals.)
The Globes also give out awards for television, though they tend to get less attention than the movie prizes. "Breaking Bad" and "House of Cards" are up for television drama; "Big Bang Theory," "Girls" and the new "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" are up for television comedy.
Still, all the awards will likely be forgotten by Tuesday (except for those trying to handicap the Oscars). Fey and Poehler, on the other hand, may dominate water-cooler chatter for days.
Let a million animated GIFs bloom.
The 71st annual Golden Globe Awards will air from the Beverly Hilton beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The show airs on NBC.