Golden Globe nominations tap 'Avatar' and 'Up' among others

Globes’ nominations offer a rough road map to the Oscars in March.

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    In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the character Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, right, and the character Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from, 'Avatar'.
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The 67th annual Golden Globe Award nominations for film and television are fresh off the press, but the rush to dissect their deeper meaning is in full bloom. Despite the nods for the small screen, most media watchers see the selections of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with fewer than 100 voting members, as the Ghosts of Awards Shows Future, primarily the Oscars. There are some surprises, mainly in the best film and acting categories, the biggest perhaps being the tap for James Cameron’s $230 million blockbuster, “Avatar,” for best drama.

The inclusion of a film widely regarded as a crowd-pleasing, special-effects-driven popcorn flick extravaganza is a startling sign that the effort is being taken seriously – for a good reason, says Matthew Belloni, managing editor of the trade publication, The Hollywood Reporter. “The Globes have a tradition of choosing movies that will move the industry forward,” he says, adding that the technological achievement in depicting a 3-D, deep-space environment is widely seen as setting new cinematic standards. On the downside, the absence of a nod for Clint Eastwood’s Nelson Mandela tribute, “Invictus,” was particularly surprising, given both the acting and directing nods to the film received for Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood, respectively. Other unexpected moments include the double nods for Sandra Bullock, one for drama (“The Blind Side”) and one for comedy (“The Proposal”).

But, says Paul Schneider, film and TV department chairman at Boston University, by and large these choices can be seen as a rough road map for the motion picture Academy statuettes, whose own list doesn’t come out till January.

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“I would expect many of the nominations, especially in the acting area to overlap with the Oscars,” he writes in an e-mail, pointing out that this year, for the first time, the Motion Picture Academy has expanded the list of contenders for best film to 10 candidates, up from five in previous years. He adds that while award shows have proliferated, the Golden Globes have gradually moved from being dismissed as a minor group of celebrity-happy junketeers, in the past five years or so, to being seen as a meaningful barometer of industry achievement.

The Globe nominations are an eclectic mix this year, says executive producer of Yahoo! Movies, Sean Phillips, carrying on their own tradition of tapping as many sides of the entertainment landscape as possible. For instance, he points out, the other deep-space hit of 2009, “Star Trek,” was a possibility for the list. “But,” he points out, “there’s room for only one big high-tech space adventure and that of course, went to ‘Avatar.’” He sees this inclusiveness as a virtue, going further to suggest the very awards shows that seem to draw increasing criticism as they proliferate across the TV landscape, as a useful distraction – particularly in hard times. “Knock them if you like, but I don’t see anything wrong in honoring the best of human art and craft in an industry that for many, can take years to produce a single work. Look at James Cameron,” he adds, whose work on “Avatar” began nearly 15 years ago.

Here are the nominations for the Best Motion Picture – Drama:

“Avatar”

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

“Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire”

Up in the Air

And nominations for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

The Informant!

“Nine”

Sherlock Holmes

(500) Days Of Summer

A Serious Man

For a full list of nominations, go to www.goldenglobes.org

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