Globes are nice, but Oscars are true gold of Hollywood awards

Tuesday, December 13th 2005, 5:44 pm
By: News On 6

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Everyone in Hollywood says the Golden Globes are an honor in their own right. But for film contenders, they're just another trophy if they don't lead to an Academy Award.

Tuesday's Globe nominations solidified the Oscar field. The cowboys-in-love drama ``Brokeback Mountain'' led with seven nominations, including best picture and honors for lead actor Heath Ledger, supporting actress Michelle Williams and director Ang Lee.

Smaller movies also grabbed the other four best dramatic picture nominations: George Clooney's Edward R. Murrow tale ``Good Night, and Good Luck''; Woody Allen's infidelity drama ``Match Point''; David Cronenberg's ``A History of Violence,'' about a family menaced by mobsters; and Fernando Meirelles' ``The Constant Gardener,'' a thriller about a diplomat investigating his wife's murder.

Although higher-profile films like ``Syriana,'' ``Memoirs of a Geisha,'' Steven Spielberg's ``Munich'' and Peter Jackson's ``King Kong'' were overlooked in the best-picture race, big-studio fare can't be counted out come Oscar nomination day on Jan. 31., said Tom O'Neil, who runs, an awards Web site.

``King Kong,'' which opens Wednesday, has a chance to become a ``Titanic''-style critical and commercial juggernaut that sweeps to Oscar victory, especially since many in Hollywood count on that film to salvage a dismal year at the box office, O'Neil said.

``The Globes embraced our gay cowboys but spurned our American macho monkey, who may come back big time at the Oscars,'' O'Neil said. ``It could be the movie that saves Hollywood, and you can't underestimate the importance of the `Kong' legacy in American pop culture.''

Since they are chosen by a comparatively small group of about 90 entertainment reporters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globe nominations often recognize a less mainstream field than the Oscars, which are awarded by 5,800 actors, filmmakers and other Hollywood professionals.

Two years ago, the Golden Globes correctly predicted Oscar winners in all key categories, including Jackson's best-picture champ ``The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'' and actors Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Tim Robbins and Renee Zellweger.

Yet a year ago, the Globes missed the mark, picking ``The Aviator'' as best picture, an honor that went to ``Million Dollar Baby'' at the Oscars. Jamie Foxx and Hilary Swank won lead-acting Globes and went on to earn Oscars, but Globe voters chose Clive Owen and Natalie Portman of ``Closer'' for the supporting-actor honors, while Oscars went to Morgan Freeman for ``Million Dollar Baby'' and Cate Blanchett for ``The Aviator.''

Still, the Globes positioned ``Brokeback Mountain'' as a frontrunner, though the critical favorite has an uphill trail for the Oscars, where a gay-themed film has never won top honors. The Globes will be presented Jan. 16, five days before Oscar balloting closes.

Chosen as 2005's best film by critics groups in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, ``Brokeback Mountain'' stars Ledger as a husband and father carrying on a secret affair with an old sheepherding companion (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Lee, who won the best-director Golden Globe for ``Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,'' said he does not worry the gay subject matter will turn off audiences or Oscar voters. But he said he does hesitate to call it a movie about gay cowboys because ``it sounds a little funny to me in its connotation, like we're doing `Blazing Saddles.'

``That's what's bothering me, because it's a serious love story,'' Lee said. ``Given the Western macho aura ... the more difficult, the more love is hindered, the more grand the love is.''

Joining Lee as Globe directing nominees were Allen for ``Match Point,'' Clooney for ``Good Night, and Good Luck,'' Jackson for ``King Kong,'' Meirelles for ``The Constant Gardener'' and Spielberg for ``Munich.''

Clooney, who also earned a supporting-actor nomination for ``Syriana,'' said he takes the honors as they come and does not look ahead to the Oscars.

``I don't really know anything about that game. I'm new to it,'' said Clooney, who shared the Venice Film Festival's screenplay prize for ``Good Night, and Good Luck.'' ``What I really do is look at each one of these awards as icing on the cake. You start looking ahead, you don't really get to celebrate the things that are fun to celebrate.''

Felicity Huffman received two nominations _ best dramatic actress in a film for her role as a man preparing for sex-change surgery in ``Transamerica'' and best actress in a TV musical or comedy for ``Desperate Housewives.'' Her TV co-stars Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria also were nominated, and the ABC show earned a best TV comedy bid.

The Globes have a separate category for musical or comedy films. Nominated were the theater tale ``Mrs. Henderson Presents,'' the Jane Austen costume pageant ``Pride & Prejudice,'' the Broadway musical ``The Producers,'' the divorce story ``The Squid and the Whale'' and the Johnny Cash film biography ``Walk the Line.''

Along with Ledger, dramatic lead actor contenders included three performers playing real-life figures: Russell Crowe as Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock in ``Cinderella Man,'' Philip Seymour Hoffman as author Truman Capote in ``Capote,'' and David Strathairn as newsman Murrow in ``Good Night, and Good Luck.'' The fifth nominee was Terrence Howard as a hard-luck pimp-turned-rapper in ``Hustle & Flow.''

Besides Huffman, dramatic actress nominees were Ziyi Zhang as a poor girl who rises to queen bee in ``Memoirs of a Geisha,'' Maria Bello as a wife learning painful secrets about her husband in ``A History of Violence,'' Gwyneth Paltrow as the daughter of an unstable math genius in ``Proof'' and Charlize Theron as a woman leading a sexual harassment lawsuit in ``North Country.''

Actors shy away from looking ahead to their Oscar prospects, though Nathan Lane concedes he may have a tougher road for the musical comedy ``The Producers,'' since academy voters tend to favor meaty dramatic roles over comic performances.

Lane, who earned a Globe nomination for best musical or comedy actor for his role as a Broadway producer trying to con investors by staging a sure flop, was willing to make a tongue-in-cheek prediction about the best-actor outcome at the Oscars on March 5:

``I believe they've already shipped the Oscar to Philip Seymour Hoffman's house just to cut down on time at the ceremony.''