NEW YORK — The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is known for what you could call a certain quirkiness in its selection process. Any group that would see fit to nominate Patch Adams and The Tourist for best picture certainly marches to its own beat.
But in the nominations announced on Thursday, the Golden Globes didn’t throw too many wrinkles into the awards season horse race leading up to the Academy Awards (which has had its own questionable choices in the past). Still, in parsing the nominations, there were some intriguing surprises as well as some inevitable questions, most notably: Salmon fishing where?
Yemen. The answer is Yemen. Yes, Lasse Hallstrom’s romantic comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen reeled in three unlikely nominations: best picture, comedy or musical; Emily Blunt for best actress, comedy or musical; and Ewan McGregor for best actor, comedy or musical. The film, which had a small run in theatres in the spring, is about an eccentric Yemeni sheik (Amr Waked) who turns to a British salmon expert (McGregor) to bring thousands of salmon to his country. Most critics didn’t bite.
The acclaimed, low-budget Beasts of the Southern Wild has generally been seen as a plucky underdog in the awards season, but the film and its young star, Quvenzhane Wallis, yielded no nominations from the Globes. Instead, the Globes — which tend to favour more seasoned stars — followed the lead of the New York Film Critics Circle, nominating Rachel Weisz for best actress for the little-seen The Deep Blue Sea.
The HFPA responded strongly to Quentin Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western-style slavery epic Django Unchained, giving it five nominations: best picture, drama; best director (Tarantino); best screenplay (Tarantino); and two for best supporting actor (Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio). Though the academy may be more divided on the film, Django could be emerging similarly to Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, which landed eight Oscar nominations.
Ang Lee’s 3-D fantasy adventure Life of Pi also fared well, with nominations for best picture (drama), best director (Lee) and best score (Mychael Danna). Tarantino and Lee likely squeezed out directors David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables). Hooper, who directed the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, seemed a particularly likely nominee, but the HFPA didn’t go crazy for the musical, which might have also yielded more supporting actor nominations.
Blockbusters did not find their way into the mix, as the Globes stayed clear of popular and somewhat acclaimed movies like Skyfall, Looper, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. Perhaps that’s no great shock, but Skyfall (which got a nomination for best song) could have also slid in with Javier Bardem’s supporting role as an effete Bond villain.
By separating best picture and lead actor nominations between drama and comedy, the Globes — and this is one of the best things about them — give comedy the attention most film awards shirk. That suggested, Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 might have been assured some notice, but it went empty handed. Instead, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continued an upswing with nominations for best picture and best actress in a comedy (Judi Dench). That followed the film on Wednesday landing a best ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild.
Also gaining momentum was Nicole Kidman, who was nominated for her supporting performance in Lee Daniels’ fevered Southern melodrama The Paperboy. (She was also nominated for the HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn.). Kidman, whose character famously pees on a jelly fish-stung Zac Efron in the film, also received an unexpected nomination from the Screen Actors Guild.
Robert De Niro’s latest comedic turn as a football-obsessed father in Silver Linings Playbook didn’t garner a nomination. Matthew McConaughey, whose year included lauded performances in Bernie and Magic Mike, also escaped notice — a result fans surely considered definitely not alright, alright, alright.