Early awards season favorites "The Martian" and "Carol" made forceful showings in the Golden Globes nominations, but late-breaking entrants "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Big Short" also came on strong.
In other words, if you were looking to the Globes nods to bring focus and clarity to this year's unusually wide-open race, you were out of luck.
But for those in Hollywood who got the early-morning call Thursday — which arrived on the heels of Wednesday's Screen Actors Guild nominations — the news was welcome, nonetheless.
"Oh, my God, it's crazy nice," said comedian Amy Schumer, who scored a nomination for actress in a comedy or musical for the romantic comedy "Trainwreck," which also earned a best picture nod. "I'm freaking out. I might not even take my Lexapro today."
The romantic drama "Carol" led the pack with five nominations, including drama and acting nods for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, while the financial crisis dramedy "The Big Short," the bloody western "The Revenant" and the quasi-biopic "Steve Jobs" followed with four nods each.
Globes nominations, which are made by a small group of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. rather than film industry professionals, are not considered reliable harbingers of future Oscar nods and have often included some out-of-left-field picks. But the nominations can lend some films and performances a sense of momentum as awards season gathers steam.
Several awards contenders that had been shut out from
Ridley's Scott's sci-fi film "The Martian" picked up nods for best picture in the comedy or musical category, for director Ridley Scott and for the film's star, Matt Damon. The gonzo big-budget action film "Mad Max: Fury Road," which many consider an awards-season dark horse, earned nominations for drama and for its director, George Miller.
The four nominations for "Steve Jobs" — which earned acting nods for Michael Fassbender, who played the tech icon, and for costar Kate Winslet, along with nominations for its screenplay and score, were notable considering the film's disappointing performance at the box office.
"I tried very, very hard not to pay too much attention to the buzz and who the front-runners were," Winslet said. "And this moment just feels fantastic. It's an unbelievably packed year in this category with some amazing women — and not just five, so many."
Will Smith earned an acting nomination for the NFL drama "Concussion," a performance that had not made the SAG Awards cut. But Johnny Depp, a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. with 10 Globes nominations over the years, failed to score a nod for his performance as the notorious mobster Whitey Bulger in "Black Mass."
David O. Russell's "Joy" — another SAG Awards shutout — earned nominations for motion picture in the comedy or musical category and for its star, Jennifer Lawrence. Alejandro G. Iñárritu's "The Revenant," which had received only a single SAG nod for star Leonardo DiCaprio, picked up a drama Globes nomination as well as nods for DiCaprio, Iñárritu and the film's score.
Quentin Tarantino's murderous western "Hateful Eight" received nominations for screenplay and supporting actress, for Jennifer Jason Leigh, but not for best picture. Leigh was tickled to be the only woman among Tarantino's eight hardscrabble outlaws and antiheroes.
"That is such an incredible group of men to be the only woman with," she said. "I felt immense joy with Quentin [Tarantino] and this group. Being handcuffed to Kurt Russell was fabulous."
Meanwhile, the awards-season train for director Adam McKay's "The Big Short" rolled on, with four Golden Globes nominations — including comedy or musical and acting nods for Steve Carell and Christian Bale — added to its two SAG nominations.
Alicia Vikander received two nominations, one for lead actress in a drama for "The Danish Girl" and another for supporting actress in a drama for "Ex Machina," while Saoirse Ronan scored a nod for the period drama "Brooklyn."
"It means a lot now," said Ronan, who was nominated for an Academy Award at age 13 for "Atonement." "When I was younger, it didn't really phase me that much. To be recognized now, when you've got more work, been working for more than half your life, it means a lot more."
Counterbalancing younger actors like Ronan and Vikander were a number of older veterans. Sylvester Stallone, who was snubbed from the SAG Awards nominations for his return to the role of Rocky Balboa in "Creed," proved a Globes contender — 39 years after his last Globes nod for the original "Rocky." Jane Fonda returned to the roster of Globe nominees after a three-decade absence, earning a supporting actress nomination for "Youth."
"There's the chronological issue [of age]; and chronologically, I could well be dead by now," Fonda said by phone. "I'm older than my father was when he died. But spiritually and energetically, I feel younger than when I was 20 and 30. It all has to do with attitude and how you see life — and that's the theme of the movie."
Widely considered a strong Oscar contender, the newsroom drama "Spotlight" earned a nomination for drama, but its cast was shut out, a sign that awards voters may consider it more of an ensemble piece than a showcase for any individual performers.
Paul Dano earned a nomination for his turn as young Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys singer biopic "Love & Mercy," but John Cusack — who played Wilson at a later stage in his life — failed to score a nod. "Honestly, I feel like we love Brian so much, if one of us doesn't get recognition, to let that be too much of a bad thing wouldn't be fair to the work we got to do and the experience we had," Dano said. "Naturally, I'd love to see everybody from the film get recognized. But I think it's only a good thing if anybody does."
It wouldn't be the Globes, of course, without a few surprises. Though there weren't any howlers on the level of past nominations for duds like "The Tourist," the nomination of Mark Ruffalo for the little-seen indie "Infinitely Polar Bear" rather than for his turn in "Spotlight" had some critics scratching their heads, while a nomination for Al Pacino's performance as an aging rock star in "Danny Collins" surprised many who hadn't had the film on their awards season radar.
Though the credibility of the Globes is often questioned, its status as one of the wildest and most unpredictable shows on the awards-season calendar remains secure. This year's ceremony, which will be held on Jan. 10 with the ever-offensive Ricky Gervais returning to hosting duties, will likely be no exception.
FOR THE RECORD
8:54 a.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the Golden Globes ceremony will be on Jan. 16.
"I met the Hollywood Foreign Press, and they're, like, the best," said Schumer, a first-time Globes nominee. "I was like, I could get down with these people. Let's go and get [drunk] together and have fun. I just hear these awards are so fun — and no one ever says anything is fun."
Times staff writers Amy Kaufman, Tre'vell Anderson and Deborah Vankin contributed to this report.