LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A neo-noir romance and a sweeping historical look at a Sicilian village were among the foreign language films earning Golden Globe nominations on Tuesday, hoping to boost recognition in the United States.
The five nominees come from Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Chile, and only Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and Italy's Giuseppe Tornatore have seen previous films get nominated before. Both walked away winners.
Tornatore, who won in 1990 for his "Cinema Paradiso," is back this year with "Baaria," a film that looks at three generations in the life of a Sicilian family
Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," starring Penelope Cruz, fuses a neo-noir style with a sprawling tale of dangerous love. The director has earned foreign language nominations for five of his films in the past, and he won for "All About My Mother" and "Talk to Her."
"Although I've received nominations before and I've even won Golden Globes in the past, every new nomination comes to me as a big and pleasant surprise," he said in a statement.
While Almodovar is well-known and "Cinema Paradiso" proved to be a crowd pleaser in the United States, all the other nominated films come from directors who have never received a Golden Globe before and will be looking to boost the recognition of their work for U.S. audiences.
The Golden Globes, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are annually one of most-watched awards shows on TV, although 2009's program drew the second-lowest total viewers since 1995 with an audience of 14.6 million.
Still, filmmakers looking to the show as a platform from which to promote their films, either for box offices or DVD.
A third nominee, Germany's "The White Ribbon" by director Michael Haneke, tells about a village on the eve of World War One, where a series of strange accidents upsets the order. The film, which won the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival, foreshadows the fascism that would overtake Germany.
France's Jacques Audiard is up for an award for "A Prophet" ("Un Prophete") a drama about a prison inmate of Arab descent who rises through the ranks of a Corsican crime gang. It won the runner-up Grand Prix at Cannes this year.
"This nomination is, first of all, very moving for me," Audiard said in a statement. "It proves that a movie can travel, that we don't just make a film for one's own country, for our 'home,'" he said.
Also nominated is 30 year-old Chilean director Sebastian Silva's "The Maid," a film about a domestic who has worked for a family for a couple decades.
As she begins to suffer dizzy spells, the family hires extra help to lessen her load, but she resents the goodwill gesture and zealously tries to drive off each new domestic who enters the household.
The Golden Globe Awards will be given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on January 17. Last year's Golden Globe foreign language winner was the Israel's "Waltz with Bashir."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte