Lessons learned from Golden Globe nominations

  • Article by: GLENN WHIPP , Los Angeles Times
  • Updated: December 16, 2012 - 4:17 PM

Gripe all you want about the practices of the 90-odd (and we do mean odd) members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and their annual Bizarro World slate of Golden Globe nominations. We get it.

But deep down, we admit we harbor affection for this crazy uncle of the awards season and its ability to look beyond the same-old/same-old in ways that frequently irritate, yes, but also occasionally make us smile with appreciation.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

There are snubs, and then there are snubs. And Robert De Niro not being nominated for his supporting turn as the father in "Silver Linings Playbook," arguably his best acting work in more than a decade, ranks as the type of head-scratcher that, given the HFPA, implies there were other factors in play.

First, De Niro couldn't attend the all-important HFPA press conference for the film. And then, too, remember that De Niro firebombed Globes voters two years ago while accepting the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award. Consider this De Niro's penance.

2. With humor, rueful works better than raunchy.

When you think back to the year's great comedies, do you remember how much fun you had watching "Ted" and "21 Jump Street"? Or do you remember the side-splitting antics of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"? (Yes. It was a rhetorical question.)

The Globes are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press and, for this savvy bunch of jet-setters, broad, raunchy humor, the kind that we unwashed Americans adore, simply does not translate.

Hence, the nominations for "Marigold" and the bittersweet "Salmon Fishing in Yemen."

3. The director race remains a bloodbath, and the Globe noms did little to change that.

The Globes have separate categories for drama and comedy/musical, but for director and screenplay, it's boiled down to a group of five.

This year, Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln"), Ben Affleck ("Argo"), Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi") and Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained") made the cut, sidelining the likes of Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables") and David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook").

HFPA voters traditionally favor the dramatic side here, so the exclusion of Hooper and Russell doesn't cripple their Oscar chances. One of them is likely to join the group at the expense of Tarantino, whose ultra-violent epic about slavery won't play well with older academy members.

4. And the lead actress race? That remains unsettled, too.

We knew little Quvenzhane Wallis wasn't going to win a SAG nomination Wednesday since her film, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," was deemed ineligible.

But a snub from HFPA certainly doesn't help her or the movie, which was conspicuously absent from picture and screenplay categories, too. New York Film Critics winner Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea"), Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") and Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock") joined Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") and Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone") in drama.

5. Like you and me, Globe voters have their favorites.

Like, say, Maggie Smith playing her patented, smart-tongued grumpster in "Quartet" and "Downton Abbey."

Or Nicole Kidman winning her ninth and 10th Globe nominations for the widely despised "Hemingway & Gellhorn" and the deranged, sweaty melodrama "The Paperboy."

Or Meryl Streep vacuuming up her 27th Golden Globe nomination for "Hope Springs," a nod that elicited a groan or two from the media throng when it was announced, even though she delivers more nuanced work there than she did in "The Iron Lady" last year.

But then, "The Iron Lady" had a benefactor even more well versed than Streep in awards-season currents: Harvey Weinstein. His presence loomed large, with Weinstein Co. movies -- "Silver Linings Playbook," "Django Unchained," "The Master," "Quartet" and foreign film nominees "The Intouchables" and "Kon-Tiki" -- pulling in a leading 15 nominations.

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