“Vice,” a biopic about Dick Cheney starring Christian Bale as the former US vice president, on Thursday picked up the most Golden Globe nominations with six including best comedy film, as the race to the Oscars begins.
The announcements, which came a week before the influential Screen Actors Guild nominations, are the first major bellwether of momentum going into the Academy Awards, which take place in February.
“Vice” bucked some predictions, earning one more nomination than popular music romance reboot “A Star Is Born,” but both are now well placed for Tinseltown awards glory.
Tied with “Star” — a hit with both critics and at the box office, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper — at five nominations were bawdy royal tale “The Favourite” and offbeat civil rights dramedy “Green Book.”
Right behind them were Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white partner, and hotly-anticipated Disney sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Beyond its best comedy film nod, “Vice” — a searing look at George W. Bush’s powerful vice president — picked up a trio of acting nominations for a nearly unrecognizable Bale, co-star Amy Adams as his wife Lynne and Sam Rockwell as Bush.
Filmmaker Adam McKay picked up a pair of nominations for best director and screenplay.
Also winning double nominations were Cooper — for acting and directing in “Star” — and Lady Gaga, for acting and best original song (“Shallow”). But co-star Sam Elliott, who plays the brother of Cooper’s aging rocker, was snubbed.
Vying with “Star” for best drama film are “BlacKkKlansman,” Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
“Beale Street” — the latest film from Barry Jenkins, who directed the best picture Oscar-winning “Moonlight” — tells the story of a young black couple in love in 1970s Harlem, and the obstacles in their path, in an adaptation of a novel by James Baldwin.
Competing in the best musical/comedy film are “Vice,” “The Favourite,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Green Book” and summer rom-com success “Crazy Rich Asians.”
– A wealth of options –
Last year, Tinseltown was looking to turn the page on the Harvey Weinstein scandal that engulfed the world of showbiz.
This year, the focus is squarely on the films.
The Golden Globes feature separate awards for dramas and musicals/comedies — meaning more nominations, and a chance for Oscar voters to consider a wider range of performances before they get their ballots.
“A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” are competing in the drama categories, seeking to firmly establish their position before the Oscars, while “Vice” is — strangely — in the comedy race.
The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who vote on the winners, also have a tendency to honor the unexpected.
Willem Dafoe got a nod for best actor in a drama film for his portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in “At Eternity’s Gate.”
“Roma,” the latest from Alfonso Cuaron which is expected to be a major Oscar player, earned three nominations — best foreign film, best director and best screenplay.
A trio of actresses from “The Favourite” — the offbeat tale of royal deception and lust — each earned nods: Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as the women vying for her attentions.
“Olivia Colman delivers the most shocking screen turn that’s generating the most ‘serious’ buzz in Hollywood,” writes Tom O’Neil, the founder of awards analysis website Gold Derby. “Beware: The queen approaches!”
“Green Book,” an offbeat comedy about a black classical pianist in 1960s America who hires an Italian-American bouncer as his driver for a tour of the racially divided South earned nods for stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen.
– New faces in TV race –
The Globes also honor the best in television — it can feel a bit redundant after the Emmys in September, with many of the nominees mimicking the past Emmy field.
To wit, Emmy winner “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” topped the nominations with four.
But the Globes also can look ahead to programs that aired too late for Emmys contention.
Dark HBO mini-series “Sharp Objects,” Amazon drama “Homecoming” starring Julia Roberts, and Netflix comedy “The Kominsky Method” all earned nominations.
Thursday’s nominations were presented before dawn in California by actors Leslie Mann (“Welcome to Marwen”), Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Danai Gurira (“Black Panther”) and Christian Slater (“Mr Robot”).
The 76th Golden Globes take place on January 6 in Beverly Hills. The Oscar nominations come after the Globes this year, on January 22.
Hosting the Globes gala will be actress Sandra Oh, who scored a nomination herself for acclaimed TV drama “Killing Eve,” and comedian Andy Samberg.