BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Hollywood A-list stars paraded along the red carpet into the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday ahead of one of the entertainment industry's biggest parties with "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network" in a close race for the top honor, best film drama.
"King's Speech" heads into the glitzy awards ceremony as the most nominated movie with seven nods overall, including best drama. But it faces stiff competition from critics' darling "The Social Network," the Facebook film that has swept many early honors in Hollywood's awards season and comes into the Golden Globes with six nominations.
Three others hope to deliver their own knockout punch and win best drama including boxing movie "The Fighter," which had six nominations, ballet movie "Black Swan" and thriller "Inception."
The Golden Globe Awards, which are given out by the nearly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are one of the major Hollywood awards shows leading to the film industry's most-prized honors, the Oscars, which are given away by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Annually, movie fans tune in to the televised ceremony because early awards show often provide tips as to which movies, actors and actresses might take home Oscars.
The top stars turn out in their finest gowns, dripping in jewels, for the event that is often billed as Hollywood's biggest party.
Early arrivals included "Tron: Legacy" film star Olivia Wilde wearing a stunning sequined Marchesa gown and "Boardwalk Empire" TV star Steve Buscemi arrived in his limousine.
Later in the evening, a parade of glamorous stars are expected to be on hand, like "Black Swan" best dramatic actress nominee Natalie Portman and Annette Bening, a best comedic actress nominee for family comedy "The Kids Are All Right."
This year's party began with a sobering lawsuit filed last week in which a former publicist for the HFPA sued for $2 million, claiming members engaged in "payola" activities such as taking lavish gifts from studios in exchange for nominations.
HFPA President Philip Berk told Reuters the suit was little more than "the outpouring of a disgruntled, former employee."
Party atmosphere or not, the show must go on -- as the saying goes -- and on Sunday the red carpet had been rolled out as usual for the stars.
Unlike the Oscars, Golden Globe voters also pick best movies in a separate category for comedies or musicals, but pundits say only two nominees in that category have the critical success and the fans to compete closely for an Oscar -- lesbian family comedy "The Kids Are All Right" and fantasy "Alice in Wonderland."
The other three are critically panned "Burlesque," box office flop "The Tourist," and action movie "Red."
The race for best actress in a drama is a close one between front-runner Portman portraying a young ballerina in "The Black Swan," Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother in "The Rabbit Hole" and Michelle Williams in relationship drama "Blue Valentine." Also included in the category are newcomer Jennifer Lawrence for "Winter's Bone" and Halle Berry in "Frankie and Alice."
Best drama film actor pits Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network," against oddsmaker favorite Colin Firth as stammering British King George VI in "The King's Speech." The other nominees are Mark Wahlberg in "The Fighter," James Franco for "127 Hours" and Ryan Gosling in "Blue Valentine."
Golden Globe voters also give out honors in television categories. Competing for best TV drama are a few veteran shows such as "Dexter," "Mad Men" and "The Good Wife," as well as newcomers "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Walking Dead."
The best comedy race features six nominees: "Glee," "30 Rock," "The Big Bang Theory," "Modern Family," "The Big C" and "Nurse Jackie."
The Golden Globe Awards are televised live in the United States on the NBC network beginning at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST (0100 GMT on Monday).
Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Stacey Joyce