2009 Golden Globe Award Nominations: So much for the blockbusters

Frank Langella portrays Richard Nixon, left, and Michael Sheen portrays David Frost in "Frost/Nixon."  The film was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best motion picture drama. AP /Universal Pictures photo by Ralph Nelson.

Frank Langella portrays Richard Nixon, left, and Michael Sheen portrays David Frost in "Frost/Nixon," which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best motion picture drama. AP/Universal Pictures photo by Ralph Nelson.

All the talk that blockbusters may make a charge back onto the Oscar ballots has to be somewhat muted by the 2009 Golden Globe Award nominations.

Box office champs that seemed poised to muscle their way into contention this year were largely left off the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations list of finalists, that was once again dominated by arthouse fare from prestige studios such as Paramount Vantage and Fox Searchlight. They’re all probably fine films — we haven’t seen most of them in Central Kentucky, yet — but it is a safe, predictable and unimaginative list.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and Doubt topped the movie nominations with five nods each, while efforts such as Batman: The Dark Knight and Tropic Thunder just received one and two nominations respectively, all in the best supporting actor category: Tom Crusie and Robert Downey Jr. for Thunder and the late Heath Ledger for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Cruise’s self-effacing turn in the Ben Stiller comedy is a pleasant surprise.

Critically acclaimed "Wall-E" is a nominee for best animated feature.

Critically acclaimed "Wall-E" is a nominee for best animated feature. AP/Walt Disney photo.

Pixar’s Wall-E, which is winding up atop numerous critics’ Top 10 lists, did get a nod for best animated feature. There has been speculation that the environmentally conscious film about a dutiful robot left to clean up a trashed and vacant Earth may transcend the animated category come Oscar time and get a best picture nomination.

On TV, cable once again was dominant, claiming all but one of the shows in the drama category, Fox’s House being the lone broadcast representative. NBC’s 30 Rock and The Office were the two broadcast comedy representatives.

Last year’s Academy Awards were followed by widespread kvetching that a lack of box office draws contributed to some of Oscar’s lowest ratings ever. As 2008 progressed, hints started emanating from Hollywood that maybe this year’s Oscars would have a little more box office and star power — with films such as The Dark Knight receiving strong critical notices.

Dual best actress Golden Globe nominee Meryl Streep in "Mama Mia!" AP/Universal Pictures photo by Peter Mountain.

Dual best actress Golden Globe nominee Meryl Streep in "Mama Mia!." AP/Universal Pictures photo by Peter Mountain.

But the Golden Globes, often viewed as a harbinger of Oscar nominees, don’t seem to be interested in taking a populist route, electing to stay with the kind of films that have dominated awards seasons for the past decade.There is a little more star power in the acting awards with tabloid darlings Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button) and Angelina Jolie (Changeling) nominated for best acting performances in the drama category along with other marquee stars such as Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road), Sean Penn (Milk) and Meryl Streep, a dual nominee for best actress in a drama (Doubt) and comedy or musical (Mamma Mia!).

Absent from contention this year are Kentuckians George Clooney and Johnny Depp, who had become awards season mainstays the last few years. Clooney starred in Burn After Reading, which was nominated for best comedy or musical, but Frances McDormand was the only acting nominee from that film.

Absent from Central Kentucky, so far, are any of the best drama nominees. Slumdog Millionaire is currently slated to open Dec. 19 at the Kentucky Theatre, Benjamin Button is set for a Dec. 25 opening, and Revolutionary Road (with a supporting performance from Lexington’s own Michael Shannon) is Jan. 16, though all of those dates are subject to change. The other nominees, Frost/Nixon and The Reader, are currently in limited release. We’ll let you know here at Copious Notes blog and Twitter when opening dates for those and other nominees are announced for Lexington.

So, what do you think of the nominations? Does this look like a good field, or were you hoping for a few of those more populist films to get in the race? Are you OK with the migration of quality scripted drama and comedy series away from broadcast? Hit the comment tab and discuss.

Note: Movable Feast is having a benefit screening of Milk tonight at the Kentucky. It opens tomorrow.

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