Oscar race wide open after Globe nominations

Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:02pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Once upon a time in Hollywood, Golden Globe voters helped narrow the list of contenders for Oscars but when the dust cleared from Thursday's Globe nominations, the opposite seemed to hold true.

Best film drama nods for dark tales "Revolutionary Road" and "The Reader" over "Milk," which has drawn strong reviews and early praise for its story of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk, surprised many industry watchers and added tension to the race for the world's top film honors, the Oscars.

"This is one of those weird years. I think the Globes does everything to muddy the picture and nothing to clear it up," said Pete Hammond, veteran Oscar watcher and critic for Web site Hollywood.com.

Also competing for best film drama at January's Golden Globes will be "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," about a man who ages backward, "Frost/Nixon," which recounts the interviews of former U.S. president Richard Nixon by British TV host David Frost and "Slumdog Millionaire," the tale of an Indian boy competing for love and money on a TV game show.

The Golden Globe Awards, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in January, are a major awards show, and the media spotlight they bring can give films momentum in the race for Oscars, which are given out in February by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In the 2003-2004 award season, for instance, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" came out of the Golden Globe awards with four wins, including best film drama, and went on to win 11 Oscars, including best film.

But none of this year's top movie contenders seems to have the strong base of voters needed to bolster an Oscar campaign, said David Poland, founder of blog site Moviecitynews.com.

"What we are seeing this year, in general, is that there is not a huge amount of passion about any of these movies. The LA and New York critics are going in different directions, and the Globes have gone in an odder direction," he said.   Continued...

<p>Actual Oscar statuettes to be presented during the 80th Annual Academy Awards sit in a display case in Hollywood, February 22, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>