As a precursor to the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes -- handed out by a group of around 90 foreign journalists working in Hollywood -- have always been imperfect with a history of weird winners and even stranger nominations.

But over the years, coming as it does during the voting by Academy members, it has emerged as a great platform for films and actors seeking Oscar recognition. This year, though, the Globe nominations seem to fall largely in line with the emerging Oscar picture: the top nominees are pretty well set and the chances for dark horses are rapidly shrinking.

Alone among the major pre-Oscar awards, the Golden Globes split the best picture category into drama and comedy/musical so there is more of a chance for an offbeat comedy to slip in as a nominee. Which probably explains how "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," a decent enough film seen by very few people, got three nominations including one for best comedy/musical.

But both fields were dominated by sure-bet Oscar nominees: "Argo," "Lincoln," "Life of Pi" and "Zero Dark Thirty" for drama and "Les Miserables," and "Silver Linings Playbook" for best comedy/musical. "Moonrise Kingdom," also a good bet for a best picture nom in the Oscar race, was another nominee in the comedy/musical field.

The film getting the biggest boost was Quentin Tarantino's violent western "Django Unchained." It was very late in screening for critics and Academy voters and had been noticeably absent from early awards. But it got five nominations: best drama, best director, best screenplay and two for best supporting actor (Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz). "Django Unchained" looks to be a real player in the Oscar race.

Also getting a nudge from the Globe voters was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which got nominations for best comedy/musical and best actress (Judi Dench). "Hotel," a surprise hit in the late spring, had not been part of the Oscar conversation until it suddenly got some serious love in the SAG nominations. Now, it looks like a possible dark horse for at least some noms.

Among the actors nominated, the one getting the biggest bump was probably Nicole Kidman for "The Paperboy." She came out of nowhere to get a SAG nomination for best supporting actress and got one from the Globes as well.

Helen Mirren, a late player in the best actress field, got another shove with a nomination for her role in "Hitchcock." She also got a SAG nomination, giving her real momentum.

There were some films and acting Oscar hopefuls that could have used a boost and didn't get one. "The Impossible" and "Flight" didn't make the cut for best drama although they were up against a tough field. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" got no love, not even for its nine-year-old star Quvenzhane Wallis.

Michael Haneke's "Amour" got a best foreign film nomination but nothing in the major categories, not even for the highly-praised performance by 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva who had been expected to get a best actress nomination in the Globes. (Rachel Weisz unexpectedly sneaked into the field for her performance in "The Deep Blue Sea.")

For all things Oscar and more, follow Charlie McCollum at Twitter.com/charlie_mccollu.