The Oscar contest for best picture had been shaping up as a head-to-head fight between the plucky British drama "The King's Speech" and David Fincher's "The Social Network," but Tuesday's Golden Globes nominations may have brought a third contender into the ring: David O. Russell's "The Fighter."
Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., who vote on the annual awards, bestowed the most nominations -- seven -- on the indie film about King George VI's stutter, including in the categories of best drama, director, lead actor in a drama (Colin Firth) and supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush).
"It's incredibly good-natured in its appeal," said director Tom Hooper, who received the news in Melbourne, Australia, at 2:30 a.m. local time. "I've traveled all over the world with the movie and it makes people everywhere laugh. It makes people cry. There's something universal about it."
But "The Social Network," which in recent days has been recognized as 2010's best picture by several key critics groups, is giving good chase, scoring six nominations, including for director Fincher and actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield.
"The Fighter" too earned six nominations, as it seems to be following a trajectory akin to the movie's come-from-behind plot. It received the most actor nods of any film -- for Mark Wahlberg's performance as Boston-area middleweight fighter Micky Ward, Christian Bale's portrayal of his troubled brother, Melissa Leo as the clan matriarch and Amy Adams as Ward's girlfriend.
"I feel like we were kind of an underdog for a while," said Russell, who nabbed a director slot too. "But Micky [Ward] is a late starter too. He would go six or seven rounds before he really got going."
The HFPA filled out the best drama category with recognition for Christopher Nolan's "Inception" and "Black Swan," which each walked away with four nominations, including director. That could boost the Oscar prospects for both films, which had been slightly less well-received by critics than "King's Speech" and "Social Network."
Conspicuously absent from the consideration was Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit," which was shut out completely. The western, opening in theaters next week, has generated excellent buzz from early screenings and the Coens are often a favorite with Oscar voters. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck's "The Town" received only one nomination, for Jeremy Renner's supporting role as an unhinged bank robber, even though the film has had wide appeal and has performed strongly at the box office, factors Golden Globes voters often seem to take into account. (Both films earned numerous Critics Choice Awards nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. on Monday)
In the comedy/musical category, "The Kids Are All Right" scored a best picture nomination, as well as two actress slots for stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. (The film also was nominated for screenplay for director Lisa Cholodenko and her co-writer, Stuart Blumberg.)
Otherwise, though, the comedy/musical categories consisted of an odd mixture of films, several of which either didn't naturally fit or were so badly reviewed by critics that they seemed to stand little chance of recognition. Two Johnny Depp films, "Alice in Wonderland," and "The Tourist," were nominated for best comedy or musical, and he himself received two actor nominations -- one for each film.
With no comedic film dominating the box office and the cultural conversation as "The Hangover" did last year, the HFPA perhaps had less to choose from. The European-set "Tourist," which received some of the worst reviews of any movie in the last three months, scored surprisingly well with the 81 members of the HFPA. It earned three nominations, with Angelina Jolie scoring a nod for her role as the mysterious temptress.
Also surprising was the fact that both Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal received nominations for their performances in "Love and Other Drugs," yet the Ed Zwick film was not nominated for best picture in the comedy/musical category. Instead, the members went with the Christina Aguilera-starrer "Burlesque" which was skewered by critics. James L. Brooks' upcoming romantic comedy, "How Do You Know," was shut out of the category.
"When I look over these Golden Globes nominations, I have kind of mixed feelings about some of them," said Michael Barker, co-chief of Sony Pictures Classics, which received nods for Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom," Paul Giamatti in "Barney's Version" and the animated film "The Illusionist." "Obviously, over the years, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. likes to get as many movie stars in the room as possible. That's certainly evident given this year's nominations."