Silent movie "The Artist" painted a pretty picture at the Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, leading all movies with six nods overall including best film comedy or musical in the race to Hollywood's Oscars.
Following "The Artist" among top nominees for the key film awards were "The Descendants," starring George Clooney as a man struggling to keep his family together, and civil rights movie "The Help" with five nods each, including both in the key category of best film drama.
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Joining "Descendants" and "The Help" among the films vying for top drama director Martin Scorsese's 3D "Hugo" and Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," baseball movie "Moneyball" and Clooney's political film "The Ides of March."
"I see great versatility, there is a variety of subjects being brought up in a variety of formats," said Aida Takla-O'Reilly, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gives out the Golden Globe Awards.
The Golden Globes, which are voted upon by roughly 90 members of the HFPA, are among the most widely watched honors programs leading up to the Oscars in February.
But unlike the Oscars, Golden Globe movie nominations are grouped into two categories -- dramas and musicals or comedies -- where "The Artist" faces competition from director Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," cancer comedy "50/50," box office hit "Bridesmaids" and "My Week with Marilyn,' starring Michelle Williams in the role of screen siren Marilyn Monroe.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
"The Artist," an almost entirely silent movie shot in black-and-white and made in the same way as movies were before the "talkies," has captured the hearts of Hollywood award voters and critics this year with its tale of a silent-era star and his romance with a budding actress.
Along with best film musical or comedy, it earned nods for its star, French actor Jean Dujardin, supporting actress Berenice Bejo, director and writer Michel Hazanavicus and musical score, and the media exposure it will earn from being the top Golden Globes nominee should lure fans to box offices.
"The Descendants" and "The Help," similarly have wowed critics, and both films boosted their chances at Oscars by a strong showing at Thursday's Golden Globe nominees.
Along with best film drama, "Descendants" scored nominations for Clooney as best actor and Alexander Payne for directing and writing, among its honors. "The Help" earned several of its other nominations in acting categories including Viola Davis for best actress in a drama and Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain for supporting actress.
Joining Davis in the race for best dramatic actress are perennial favorite Meryl Streep portraying Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," Glenn Close playing a woman masquerading as a male butler in "Albert Nobbs," newcomer Rooney Mara for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Tilda Swinton in dark film, "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
In the race for best dramatic actor, Clooney will square off against Leonardo DiCaprio as FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar," Michael Fassbender portraying a sex addict in "Shame," Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" and Ryan Gosling for "The Ides of March."
In another key category, best director, Payne and Hazanavicius take on masters Scorsese ("Hugo") and Allen ("Midnight in Paris,") along with Clooney for political film "The Ides of March."
Foreign language film nominees were Angelina Jolie's Bosnian war movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey," Chinese movie "The Flowers of War," Belgian film "The Kid with a Bike," Iran's "A Separation," and Spanish movie "The Skin I Live In."
The Golden Globe Awards will be given out in a gala ceremony on Jan. 15, hosted by British comedian Ricky Gervais and telecast live on the NBC network.
Last year, Gervais ruffled many of the actors in the audience and members of the HFPA with some sarcastic jokes about the reputation of the awards show, but was invited back to emcee the event again this year.
HFPA president Takla-O'Reilly made light of last year's performance at the nominations on Thursday, calling Gervais a "naughty, naughty schoolboy."
(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sandra Maler)