'Button,' 'Frost/Nixon,' 'Doubt' each grab 5 Globe nominations

Friday, December 12, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Academy Awards picture cleared up a bit Thursday as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" led the Golden Globe nominations with five apiece.

The Oscar fate of the year's biggest film, "The Dark Knight," remains uncertain, though, with the Batman blockbuster earning only a single nomination, supporting actor for Heath Ledger.

"Benjamin Button" and "Frost/Nixon" earned Globe nominations for best drama, along with "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road" and "Slumdog Millionare."

Brad Pitt was among dramatic-actor nominees for his role in "Benjamin Button," as was Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon." The others were Leonardo DiCaprio for the domestic drama "Revolutionary Road," Sean Penn for the Harvey Milk saga "Milk" and Mickey Rourke for the sports-comeback tale "The Wrestler."

"Revolutionary Road" reunited DiCaprio with his "Titanic" co-star Kate Winslet, who had two nominations, best actress for "Revolutionary Road" and supporting actress for "The Reader."

Joining Winslet among dramatic-actress nominees were Anne Hathaway for "Rachel Getting Married," Angelina Jolie for "Changeling," Meryl Streep for "Doubt" and Kristin Scott Thomas for "I've Loved You So Long."

The Globes traditionally help sort out the potential Oscar field, particularly in years when no solid favorites to win have emerged.

"The Dark Knight" initially had been viewed as a major contender for Ledger and in technical categories, but its buzz for best picture, director Christopher Nolan and other top prizes swelled as the season wore on. While the Globes generally overlooked it, it remains a critics' choice as one of the year's best.

The Globes are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of about 90 reporters for overseas outlets. Oscar nominees are selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a collection of about 6,000 filmmakers, actors and other industry professionals.

"The Dark Knight" has something to impress every voting branch of the academy: heroic themes, soaring drama, splashy visuals and action, grand dialogue and terrific performances, led by Ledger's remarkable reinvention of Batman foe the Joker.

Oscar nominations come on the one-year anniversary of Ledger's death last January from an accidental prescription-drug overdose.

"This nomination is deeply appreciated and is not lost on those of us who continue to love and miss him," said father Kim Ledger in a statement on behalf of the actor's immediate family. "We are so proud that our boy's work is being recognized in this way."

Other nominees were gushing about Ledger's performance, too. Terrence Howard, who helped announce Globe nominees, said he thinks Ledger will win the Globe and Oscar.

"I remember while Heath was still with us, there was incredible talk," said Colin Farrell, a musical or comedy acting nominee for "In Bruges." "It's not just recognition in a posthumous sense, not just the frenzy surrounding the circumstances of his death. That nomination makes sense and was incredibly expected and highly anticipated."

Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. were nominated as supporting actor for "Tropic Thunder." Each played odd roles: Cruise was nearly unrecognizable as a psychotic movie mogul in a bald cap, beard and fat suit, and Downey played a white actor who undergoes a skin-tinting procedure to play a black man.

The Harvey Milk film biography "Milk" had been near the top of awards watchers' lists but only grabbed an acting nomination for Penn. And one of the year's biggest comedy hits, "Sex and the City," was shut out completely.

Clint Eastwood had two music nominations for his "Changeling" score and for co-writing the title song for "Gran Torino," part of which he also sang. But he missed out on directing nominations for both films and for an acting slot in "Gran Torino."

The animated hits "WALL-E" and "Bolt" had two nominations apiece, for best animated picture and best song, the "WALL-E" tune co-written by Peter Gabriel and the "Bolt" song co-written by Miley Cyrus, who also lent her voice to one of the film's lead characters.

Besides her "Doubt" nomination, Streep picked up another for musical or comedy actress for the hit "Mamma Mia!", which also is competing for best picture in that category. The other contenders for best musical or comedy are smaller movies: "Burn After Reading," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "In Bruges" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

"Happy-Go-Lucky" star Sally Hawkins capped a big week of Hollywood honors with a Globe nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy. Over the previous two days, Hawkins was chosen as the year's best film actress by both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle.

Hawkins was riding in a taxi in London when she got the Globe news in a cell-phone text from her mother.

Playing an eternal optimist whose upbeat outlook is put to the test, Hawkins was the latest relatively unknown British actress to rise to Hollywood awards status courtesy of filmmaker Mike Leigh. His past films, "Secrets & Lies" and "Vera Drake," earned Oscar nominations for his stars.

"It's not a hugely budgeted movie, it's not plot-driven or an action movie or a big blockbuster," Hawkins said. "He's interested in character, in character actors. It just makes it even more special that it comes from a tiny, tiny place in the world."

As for her Oscar chances: "That still feels a million miles away," Hawkins said.

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