GOLDEN GLOBE voters did little to clear up a blurry awards picture in Hollywood on Thursday, giving films like “The Artist,” “The Help” and“ The Descendants” roughly the same number of nominations and snubbing some perceived Oscar front-runners.
The movie industry’s self-congratulatory season is typically well defined by now, with favorites firmly established and potential dark horses looming. But consensus has yet to form fully around any film this year, perhaps because an unusual number of top contenders are arriving late.
Leading the Globes nominations with six was “The Artist,” a black-and-white silent film from the French director Michel Hazanavicius. That film, backed by the awards maven Harvey Weinstein, got most of its nods in major categories, including best comedy. “This movie is a love letter to Hollywood, and it’s an indescribable joy to receive this news,” Mr. Hazanavicius said in an e-mail.
Two films were a whisker behind with five nominations each: “The Descendants,”Alexander Payne’s drama about a Hawaiian land baron and his splintered family, and “The Help,” about black maids in the 1960s and the white families they serve. Both were nominated for best drama, a category that also included “Moneyball,” “War Horse,” “The Ides of March” and “Hugo.” Hollywood, of course, paid just as much attention (or more) to the snubs.
Perhaps most notable was the complete shutout of an expected Oscar darling, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a post-Sept. 11 drama from the director Stephen Daldry and the producer Scott Rudin. This film, with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock among its stars, may have suffered from its direct look at the emotional impact of the terror attacks.
“Those who love it love it passionately, and those who resist it find it too tough as an emotional experience,” Mr. Rudin said in an e-mail on Thursday.
Steven Spielberg also got slapped, with his “War Horse,” a look at World War I through equine eyes, picking up only a pair of nominations — the same number of nominations that voters gave Madonna’s critically drubbed “W.E.”
Focus Features failed to get any nominations for“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,”while Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” got only a lone acknowledgment, for Leonardo DiCaprio as best actor.
On a happier side of the scale voters gave a somewhat puzzling boost to “The Ides of March,”George Clooney’s political drama; it had meager ticket sales and has so far been of minor note on the awards trail, but it walked away with four Globe nominations. The support of“Ides of March”by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 90-member group that gives out the Globes, presents an unusual twist: a group of foreign journalists buying into a picture about American politics that hasn’t fared so well with the home crowd.
Awards strategists noted that both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were invited back. Mr. Pitt was singled out as a best actor nominee for his baseball executive in “Moneyball,” which received four nods total. Not to leave him without a date at the ceremony, the organization nominated “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” which marks Ms. Jolie’s debut as a director, for best foreign film. The Globes are not taken seriously as artistic milestones and have a history of voting idiosyncrasies;“True Grit”got no Globe nominations last year, for instance, but went on to receive 10 nominations at the Academy Awards. The organization is still mocked for naming Pia Zadora new star of the year in 1981.
Studios also complain that the group tends to nominate based on star wattage instead of performance in an attempt to orchestrate a red-carpet spectacle. Madonna was the best example of that this year. Awards strategists also pointed to nominations for Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet as best actress for“Carnage.”Still, Hollywood picks over the Globes for clues about the Oscar race. The best picture Oscar has mirrored the Golden Globes’ choice for best drama or best comedy-musical about two-thirds of the time over the last two decades. The Globes as Oscar forecaster did not work last year, with “The Social Network” beating out “The King’s Speech,” which won the Academy Award for best picture.
Studios also rely on Globe nominations to fuel ticket sales and lift movies out of the year-end multiplex pile-up; this year pictures like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which received two nominations, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “War Horse” and “The Iron Lady” (starring Meryl Streep, who landed her 25th Globe nomination for the part) are among the films arriving around Christmas.
The nominations were announced shortly after 5 a.m. Pacific Time. A full list of nominees can be found here.
Regardless of the quirky nature of the Globes, nominees reacted with practiced graciousness.Glenn Close, nominated for best actress in a drama for her gender-bending role in “Albert Nobbs,” called the attention an “extraordinary honor”; that film also received nominations for best supporting actress (Janet McTeer) and original song (Ms. Close and Brian Byrne). “The whole ‘Albert Nobbs’ team is walking on air,” Ms. Close said.
Viggo Mortensen, nominated for best supporting actor for playing Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s “Dangerous Method,” said it was “a pleasant surprise,” but lamented that Mr. Cronenberg was overlooked in the directing category. In the comedy-musical category Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” was the standout nominee with four, including best director and best comedy. The other nominees for best comedy-musical were “50/50,” the true story of a man dealing with cancer; “Bridesmaids”and“My Week With Marilyn.”
While the movie awards receive most of the attention because of their proximity to the Oscar race, the Globes ceremony relies on television categories for much of its star power. Marquee names nominated for TV work this year include Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story”),Matt LeBlanc (“Episodes”) and, as usual,Tina Fey(“30 Rock”).
“Glee” fell off the nominations map — that Fox series got five nods last year and only one on Thursday — as HBO, always an outsize presence at the Globes, increased its stranglehold. That premium cable network received 18 nominations, the most of any TV company; Showtime was a distant second with eight.
About 17 million people watched the live Globes telecast last year, on par with the year before. By comparison, about 38 million people watched last year’s Oscar telecast.
The British comedian Ricky Gervais will return for the third year as host of the show, scheduled for Jan. 15 on NBC. Last year Mr. Gervais overshadowed the ceremony with a series of barbed remarks about celebrities in attendance, as well as the association itself. (On Thursday Aida Takla-O’Reilly, president of the association, referred to Mr. Gervais as “a naughty, naughty schoolboy.”)
But the real drama with the Globes continues to happen behind the scenes. Two lawsuits filed shortly before last January’s show have since blossomed into furious legal battles.
One case centers on what the foreign press association said was an attempt by Dick Clark Productions and its owner to hijack the ceremony by unilaterally negotiating a new agreement with NBC. Dick Clark Productions is once again staging the show, but its lawyers are prepping for a shootout with the association over the NBC contract at a trial that is set to begin on Jan. 24 in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
Juicier are a cluster of three suits in which Michael Russell, a former Globes publicist, and others claim that the press association is corrupt, pointing to the acceptance by some members of what the suit called “payola” from studios lobbying on behalf of certain actors and films.
The organization shot back with a suit charging Mr. Russell and associates with commandeering its charitable activities for their own benefit. Its latest amended complaint, filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court in late October, stretched to 591 pages, including exhibits.