Jon Hamm, Julianna Margulies

Could dead men turn the tables on ad men this year at the Golden Globes? You never know with those quirky Globes voters, who in years past have given cult shows like The X-Files and Party of Five best-drama honors.

If Mad Men wins again, and it is the deserving front-runner, it will be the fourth in a row for AMC's signature drama. And while AMC's late-fall zombie sensation The Walking Dead could be a spoiler, there's more fresh competition in the best drama category from HBO stunner Boardwalk Empire and CBS' stellar The Good Wife. (Showtime's Dexter rounds out the category.)

The competition is especially fierce in the drama actor race, where the lineup is exactly the same as at the SAG Awards later this month. Last year's winner, Dexter's Michael C. Hall, defends his title against two-time champ Hugh Laurie, Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston — finally being invited to the Globes party after three consecutive Emmy wins — Boardwalk's Steve Buscemi and Mad Men's Jon Hamm, who won a Globe the year the ceremony was scrapped for the writers' strike. My vote's for Hamm for his emotionally harrowing arc last season, but I won't be surprised if the Globe goes to Buscemi.

I'm also rooting for Hamm's co-star Elisabeth Moss to take the drama actress prize. Who went through more change last season than Peggy Olson? But she's up against last year's winner, Julianna Margulies, and last year's surprise Emmy recipient Kyra Sedgwick. Dark horse? Sons of Anarchy's ferocious Katey Sagal. Odd duck? Piper Perabo of USA's lightweight Covert Affairs.

In comedy, it's good to see a traditional sitcom hit like The Big Bang Theory in the running, but the contest for best comedy will once again be between Glee and Modern Family. Last year the Globe went to Glee, still the most nominated show (with five). But Modern Family deserves it more this year for sustained excellence and warm hilarity.

For comedy lead acting, Big Bang's Jim Parsons has earned the right to put a Globe alongside his Emmy — but can he beat three-time winner Alec Baldwin? In the comedy actress race, three distinguished Showtime leading ladies are battling it out — Toni Collette (last year's winner), Edie Falco and Laura Linney — and my money's on Nurse Jackie's Falco this time.

The supporting categories are still the usual mishmash of drama, comedy and movie/mini performers — how to choose? — but I'm thinking Kelly Macdonald's luminous work in Boardwalk has the best chance to upset Glee's Jane Lynch, while Glee's Chris Colfer and Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet face off, with the uproarious Stonestreet having the edge.

HBO's dominance in the movies/minis category is threatened this year by Sundance's acclaimed import Carlos, but it's hard to imagine anything beating the Emmy-winning triumverate of The Pacific, Claire Danes (for Temple Grandin) and Al Pacino (as Dr. Kevorkian in You Don't Know Jack). Some things just feel unstoppable.

The Golden Globe Awards air Sunday at 8/7c on NBC.

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