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A-listers, lighter fare make the cut

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Madonna get nods.

December 16, 2011|Nicole Sperling
  • Golden Globes: The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. once again confirmed its affection for celebrities.
Golden Globes: The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. once again confirmed… (Weinstein Co. / Columbia…)

With a raft of Golden Globe nominations Thursday for A-list stars like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Madonna in a range of categories, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. once again confirmed its affection for celebrities, leaving some of the year's darker and more challenging films and performances off its list.

Instead, it was largely lighter, more accessible fare like "The Descendants," "The Artist" and "The Help" that got multiple nods one day after the Screen Actors Guild showered the same trio of movies with nominations.

Barry Adelman of Dick Clark Productions, the production company behind the annual glitz-fest, made no bones about what's key to the show: star wattage. "This isn't a show you're going to want to miss -- Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender -- all age groups -- men and women -- the icons and the newcomers all in one mix."

The return of controversial host Ricky Gervais, who was invited back despite ruffling feathers with outrageous jabs at the expense of the HFPA and many of the nominees with his turn at the podium last year, is likely to bolster interest in the Jan. 15 ceremony, which will be broadcast on NBC.

For now, at least, the emphasis is on the nominees and what the selections mean in an awards-season race that has remained stubbornly unpredictable. The black-and-white ode to silent cinema, "The Artist," was the biggest winner of the morning, scoring six nominations for the Globes' 69th annual awards show, including best picture, comedy or musical, lead actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius.

Alexander Payne's Clooney-led father-daughter drama "The Descendants" and the civil rights-era story of black maids in the South "The Help," from writer-director Tate Taylor, scored five nominations each; the two films will face off for the best picture drama prize.

"You have this ensemble piece of ordinary women doing extraordinary things," said Taylor of the film's appeal. "People are looking for inspiration right now and are responding to it much more than [a story] about grand people doing grand things."

The Golden Globes, which divides the best picture nominations between comedy and drama, also selected Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," the baseball drama "Moneyball" and Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" in the drama category, as well as a second Clooney film, "The Ides of March."

The political drama adapted from the play "Farragut North" has been little seen in other awards season contests, but it received four nominations from the HFPA, among them for Ryan Gosling's lead actor performance, Clooney's direction of the film and Clooney's screenplay, which he co-wrote with Grant Heslov. (Clooney was also nominated for lead actor for his work in "Descendants.")

In addition to "Artist," the best picture comedy or musical race includes "Bridesmaids," "My Week With Marilyn," "50/50" and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris." Allen was nominated for the film's script, and he'll be competing in the director category against Clooney, Hazanavicius, Payne and Scorsese.

Perhaps what is more telling in a year in which the awards-season picture is murkier than normal is the omission of certain prominent films from the nominations roster. The HFPA's 81 voting members ignored the critically acclaimed British spy drama "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," an adaptation of the John le Carre novel featuring Gary Oldman, the well-pedigreed literary adaptation "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," from director Stephen Daldry and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."

Their absence from the nominations list could spell trouble in terms of awards-season momentum heading into January's Oscar nominations; then again, the HFPA gave no nominations last year to the Coen brothers' western "True Grit," a film that went on to collect 10 Academy Award noms.

The HFPA has a reputation for unconventional choices, and it again lived up to that mantle, handing out two nominations to Madonna's directorial effort "W.E." and a foreign-language film nomination to Jolie's feature directorial debut, "In the Land of Blood and Honey." Gosling also received a second lead actor nomination in the comedy category for his turn in the summer's "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

In that race, he'll compete against "The Artist's" Dujardin, Brendan Gleeson for "The Guard," Joseph Gordon-Levitt for his role as a cancer patient in "50/50" and Owen Wilson for "Midnight in Paris." In the best dramatic actor race, Gosling and Clooney will go up against Pitt for the baseball drama "Moneyball," Leonardo DiCaprio for Clint Eastwood's biopic "J. Edgar" and Michael Fassbender for his performance as a sex addict in the NC-17-rated drama "Shame."

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" star Rooney Mara will compete in the lead dramatic actress category with a slew of veterans: Glenn Close for "Albert Nobbs," Viola Davis for "The Help," Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady" and Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

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