As much as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants to ignore the 68-year existence of the Golden Globes,  the venerable cinematic institution has seen the January awards stop grow in stature as a possible bellwether for the Oscars.  The winner's are not always the same, but in recent years the fields have been very similar.   After the movie nominations for the Globes were announced this  morning the HFPA have taken a step backward in gaining big brother's and Hollywood's respect.

This year's biggest head scratcher was the best picture - comedy or musical categories.  Besides the well deserved recognition for "The Kids Are All Right" and its stars (except for Mark Ruffalo), the other nominees, for the most part, were blatant attempts at celebrity envy.  Most expected the HFPA to bite on "Alice in Wonderland" and star Johnny Depp ($1 billion worldwide can't be wrong, right?), but to give Depp a second nomination for the negatively reviewed "Tourist," his co-star Angelina Jolie and the film itself was absurd.  To begin with, the picture is a dramatic thriller -- hardly a comedy -- and, moreover, a massive disappointment at the box office.  The HFPA confounded matters by also including "Red," which was a nice hit, but not a critical favorite and "Burlesque" which is the worst performing musical at the box office since "Across the Universe" and "Rent."  The group bypassed a slew of better received films such as "Made in Dagenham," "I Love You Phillip Morris," "Barney's Version" (while they still rewarded its star with a nod), "Casino Jack" (ditto), Tamara Drewe" and "Cyrus."  And if populist was the point, why not nominate "Easy A," "The Good Guys," or "Get Him to the Greek"?  Needles to say, it's time for the org to drop the comedy or musical category and try to gain some more respect.  The HFPA believes it differentiates itself from other shows by breaking films out by genre, but if the 90 or so members of the organization can't vote without embarrassing themselves they should go to a 10 picture system and a regular best actor and best actress rundown. 

The day's other big shocker was the org's complete disregard for "True Grit."  The Coen Bros. new adaptation of the Charles Portis' novel already made AFI's 10 films of 2010 list and the National Board of Review's top 11.  Somehow, not even Jeff Bridges -- who could easily challenge Colin Firth for an Oscar  this year -- received a nomination.  Word is Paramount knew they were facing a tough battle with this last week, but even they have to be shocked about Bridges.  In his place?  Mark Wahlberg in the studio's other contender, "The Fighter."  Listen, I've got tons of respect for Wahlberg for training so long for this role and doing everything possible as a producer to make sure it got made, but his performance is nowhere near as iconic or powerful Bridges. 

Some other quick thoughts…

"Social Network" and "The King's Speech" don't lose a beat
The "Speech" team happily snared the most nominations from "Network" -- something that might also occur with the Academy, but you won't hear much crying from the "Network" folks.  Jesse Eisenberg landed a much needed best actor nod and if he finds one on Thursday with SAG?  He's in.

"Inception" needs an acting breakthrough
If "Inception" is going to "surprise" as a best picture winner in February it has to get some more support from the acting branch.  The odds of winning the best picture Oscar without one acting nomination are extremely slim.  If it isn't going to come from DiCaprio (more on that later) the WB team better start pushing Marion Cotillard very, very hard for supporting actress (it doesn't hurt that she deserves it).  Why Cotillard couldn't find love from the HFPA this time around though is puzzling.

John Legend got royally [insert expletive here]
Really?  Legend's sweet original song from "Waiting For Superman" doesn't get a nomination, but both songs from "Burlesque" do?  We can understand one, but both?  'Nuff said about that...

Sony Classics is having a tough awards season

Besides a surprise nod for Paul Giamatti in the best actor - comedy or musical category for "Barney's Version," an expected animation nomination for "The Illusionist" and Jacki Weaver's supporting turn in "Animal Kingdom, the indie institution struck out on their biggest contender and best film of the year: "Another Year."  A best picture drama nod was always going to be tough, but not only did Leslie Manville not get into the best actress race, but Mike Leigh found no love in screenplay.  Considering the picture should be a top 10 list staple by many critics that's very odd indeed. And in an incredibly weak best picture - musical or comedy field, "Made in Dagenham" and its star Sally Hawkins (a previous Globe winner) couldn't find a nomination either.

Angelina Jolie should not attend this year's ceremony
We love us some Bradgelina, but Jolie should not attend the Globes this year for her "Tourist" nomination.  As much as she may want to support "Tourist" producer Graham King, this is not a performance she should be celebrating. Send a message to the HFPA Angie and stay home with Brad and the kids.

Kudos for not forgetting '127 Hours'
We'll give the HFPA this, they didn't forget Danny Boyle's latest masterpiece as "127 Hours" scored best actor, best screenplay and best score nods.  It couldn't crack the best picture race, but maybe it will convince some moviegoers it's not the terrifying experience it's been badly hyped up to be.  It's actually a pretty uplifting piece of work.

The HFPA really loved 'The Fighter'
Boy did they.  Not only did Wahlberg, Christian Bale and the picture get nods, but both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo cracked the best supporting actress field.  Another surprise was comeback kid David O. Russell scoring his first best director nomination from the org. 

'Rabbit Hole' needs some help from SAG

Things didn't look good for John Cameron Mitchell's drama before this morning, but landing only one expected nomination for Nicole Kidman in the best actress field had to be disappointing.  The drama will need some help from the SAG Awards on Thursday with either an ensemble nod or nominations for Dianne Wiest and/or Aaron Eckhart to keep the momentum going for a best picture slot.

No love for Leonardo DiCaprio
Is the HFPA's love affair with Leonardo DiCaprio over?  The foreign press have rarely turned down an opportunity to nominate the box office superstar over the years.  In fact, they have recognized him seven times previously and he's won once for "The Aviator."  This year, they could have nominated him for either "Inception" or "Shutter Island," but passed him over. Ouch.

As the largest voting block in the 5,000 member Academy, Thursday morning's SAG nominations will be the most accurate barometer of the Oscar campaign until the nominees are announced on Jan 21.  Look for complete coverage on HitFIx beginning at 6 AM PST, 9 AM EST. 

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