Golden Globes movie nominations: “Up in the Air” leads the way

I’ll start with the facts on the Golden Globe movie nominations, which came out this morning, and move on to just a bit of opining about the awards themselves later on. (Will Harris has his thoughts on who should win among the television Golden Globe nominees down below.)

As the above indicates, Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” collected the most nominations from the awards given annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation (HFPA) with six nods. Just behind it was most of the other films that are emerging as this year’s awards usual suspects. The Broadway musical adaptation from director Rob Marshall, “Nine,” got five nominations; “Avatar,” and “Inglourious Basterds” received four nominations each. Following with three nominations were “The Hurt Locker,” “Invictus” and “Precious,” as well as two names that are somewhat new to this year’s awards sweepstakes, Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” and the upcoming star driven comedy from Nancy Myers, “It’s Complicated.” (Thanks to Nikki Finke, or her inevitably long-suffering assistant, for providing not only a complete list of nominations, but also a convenient awards tally not only by film, but also by studio and TV network.)

Neither “A Single Man” nor “Invictus” made the cut for “Best Picture – Drama.” Meryl Streep and Matt Damon both got two acting nominations, with Streep competing against herself in the “Best Actress – Comedy” category for “Julie & Julia” and “It’s Complicated.”

One factor that somewhat complicates covering the Globes is that they separate dramas from comedies and musicals. This year, “Up in the Air,” which bills itself as a “dramatic comedy” but which a lot of people seem to see as simply a mature and relatively low-key comedy with topical overtones, was nominated in the drama category. This prompted the AP (via MSNBC) to opine that the nomination in that category could give it more “weight” for the Oscars. I have to say that, while it’s so wrong in some many ways, there may be some truth to that and getting the meme out that the film is more drama than comedy might help Oscar voters to nominate it.

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To further mess with our heads, another film that is said to mix laughter with more serious aspects, “A Serious Man,” got a nomination for actor Michael Stuhlbarg in the comedy category. Also, Robert Downey, Jr. was nominated for the upcoming Guy Ritchie action-mystery fest, “Sherlock Holmes,” in the comedy category — which may or may not be fitting, though the film does seem to be is playing up the humorous potential of the Holmes myth.

A couple of modest surprises. “District 9” was nominated for Best Screenplay; nice to see genre picks getting their props. Also, it’s a law now that Christoph Waltz must be nominated for his A+ villainy in “Inglourious Basterds,” but missing was newcomer Christian McKay, whose universally gushed-over performance in “Me and Orson Welles” seems to have been shaping up to be Waltz’s possibly only real competition for the Supporting Actor Oscar. Not enough star power for the Globes, I guess. The Golden Globes has never been the tidiest of awards, that’s for sure. Nor are they known for being the most, well, merit-based.

Indeed, while La Finke is making with the invective as usual, she may have a point about the awards not registering very high on the integrity scale. I personally don’t take any awards all that terribly seriously — they are really only an aggregation of opinion, and so their value kind of depends on the thoughtfulness of the voters. Moreover, even where people might actually know their fields fairly well, their choices are often distorted by various outside factors such as visibility/name recognition, personal popularity, career achievement for non-career achievement awards, and what movies they actually got to see.

Still, the Globes may be a special case. In 1982, Pia Zadora, a young singer and former child actress and star of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” with a very wealthy husband and a promotional campaign to match, won “New Star of the Year.” The award was purportedly on the basis of her soon-to-be Razzie-winning performance in a movie called “Butterfly.” Ms. Zadora has done a better job of living down the embarrassment than the Globes ever have.

Fittingly, then, the award show itself has always been a looser, more booze-infused, affair that many argue is therefore more entertaining than the Oscars. Eugene Hernandez is clearly correct in stating that the Globes “favor star wattage.”

Sandra Bullock in Nevetheless, Anne Thompson makes a few interesting observations about possible Oscar tea leaves here. Where I can’t agree with her, however, is that she finds it a “shocker” that Sandra Bullock scored two acting nominations, one for “The Blind Side” on the drama side and one for “The Proposal” on the comedy side. She seems surprised that Bullock got even one nomination and skeptical that her “Blind Side” performance has a major shot at an Oscar nomination. My hunch is that Bullock is a shoe-in for an Academy nomination for the feel-good sports drama (nominating “The Proposal” for anything would be very unusual). The Academy likes to acknowledge somewhat populist sleeper hits and it also loves to honor actors who rise above their usual meh-to-okayness with a really special performance that’s better than just okay.

I call this the “Kim Basinger in ‘L.A. Confidential’ phenomenon.” I’d say that not only is it extremely likely that Sandra Bullock will get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but that her prospects for winning are actually very good. I mean, the Academy can give Meryl Streep a reasonable award just about any year they want for as long as she decides to make movies, but how many chances are they going to have to give one to Sandra Bullock?

  

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