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Studio Films Resurface With 'Titanic' Surge

Golden Globes: Cameron's epic gets record eight nominations, followed by three big-production movies.

December 19, 1997|AMY WALLACE and ROBERT W. WELKOS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Studio films are on the rebound, judging by the Golden Globe nominees announced Thursday. "Titanic," James Cameron's epic about the sinking of the world's most famous ship, led the pack with a Globe record of eight nods, including best film drama, in the 55th annual awards nominations.

James L. Brooks' comedy "As Good as It Gets" placed second, with six nominations. "L.A. Confidential," Curtis Hanson's noir thriller that has been a critics' favorite, got five nods. "Amistad," Steven Spielberg's tale of a rebellion aboard a slave ship, got four.

Of the five films that garnered most recognition, only "Good Will Hunting"--which also received four nominations--was produced by an independent studio, Miramax.

The Golden Globes will be awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Jan. 18, in a gala ceremony telecast live on NBC. The Globes are commonly regarded as a bellwether for the Academy Awards, which are presented in March, but even the most lauded nominees were reluctant Thursday to look ahead to Oscar night.

"This is new game for me," said Cameron, whose $200-million film was nominated in every possible category except supporting actor. "My films, at least since 'Aliens,' have been nominated mostly in the technical categories. . . . To be embraced for directing and screenwriting has not happened [before], so I don't know what it means."

This year's nominations contrasted sharply with those of last year, when independent and foreign-made films made a strong showing. Also notable was the way the foreign press association spread the spoils around. In addition to the five top films, three films got three nominations, four films got two nods and 22 films got one nomination each.

Sigourney Weaver's best supporting actress nomination, for example, was the sole nomination for "The Ice Storm," Ang Lee's sober family drama set in the 1970s.

"This is an unexpected bonus. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea!" Weaver said, quoting a Three Dog Night song from the period.

Among actresses, Helen Hunt wowed the foreign press association most. Hunt, 34, was alone in receiving best actress nominations in two categories: movie musical/comedy ("As Good as It Gets") and television series musical/comedy ("Mad About You").

Among actors, multiple nominations went to Matt Damon, 27, who starred in and co-wrote "Good Will Hunting" with his childhood friend Ben Affleck. Reached on the set of John Dahl's "Rounders," Damon sounded shocked by the film's success: nominations for best drama, best screenplay, best actor-drama (Damon) and best supporting actor (Robin Williams).

Damon was especially grateful for the nod to Williams, he said, because without the A-list actor's commitment to the project, which had a estimated budget of $20 million, it might not have been made.

"Hopefully this will encourage other established actors to take chances like that," Damon said.

The nominations were so widely dispersed that Greg Kinnear, a best supporting actor nominee for his role as a gay artist in "As Good as It Gets," joked that Jill--the Brussels Griffon who played his dog in the film--had been overlooked.

"Jill was quite an actress," Kinnear said. "She walked onto the stage and sucked the oxygen out of the room. . . . That was the only glaring omission from the Globes."

The dog was not alone, however. Two A-list actor-directors--Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood--were passed over Thursday. Costner directed and starred in the upcoming "The Postman." Eastwood directed "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

"The Sweet Hereafter" and star Ian Holm were bypassed, as were Robert Duvall and his "The Apostle." Julie Christie and "Afterglow" came up empty-handed, as did Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, the stars of "Donnie Brasco," directed by Mike Newell.

Several up-and-coming actors received Globe nominations for the first time.

"I guess this is the year for the young generation," said 33-year-old Djimon Hounsou, a nominee in the best actor-drama category for his work in "Amistad." Hounsou said he was excited to receive a congratulatory phone call from the ambassador of Benin, his West African homeland.

"There is so much talk about it already over there [in Benin]," he said. "I'm feeling like an angel--flying high."

Joey Lauren Adams, a nominee for best actress-musical/comedy for her role in "Chasing Amy," was so sure she wasn't going to be nominated that she turned off her phone. Adams, 29, only learned of her error when her publicist sent someone to pound on her front door.

"My house is a mess and they're saying, 'All these TV crews are coming to interview you,' " she said, still jet-lagged from the film's Paris premiere. "I was like, 'Oh my God! I have Christmas shopping to do.' "

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