Touted as an awards front-runner since early autumn, British director Steve McQueen finally garnered Golden Globes love Thursday for his searing depiction of antebellum plantation life in “12 Years a Slave.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. honored the visual artist-turned-feature filmmaker with a nomination in the motion picture director category alongside David O. Russell, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexander Payne and Paul Greengrass.
After directing two modestly budgeted indies (the prison drama “Hunger” and “Shame” in 2011), McQueen’s Globes nod arrives as his most prestigious awards recognition since landing a BAFTA for most promising newcomer in 2008.
Both “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” led all Globes balloting with seven nominations apiece.
Likewise, “American Hustle” writer-director Russell is no stranger to the Globes; he was nominated last year for the acerbic comedy-drama “Silver Linings Playbook” (for movie screenplay) and in 2011 for directing “The Fighter.” “Hustle,” the filmmaker’s ’70s-set crime drama, is loosely based on the FBI’s Abscam sting and features an ensemble cast including Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams.
Asked if he thought "American Hustle" resonated with HFPA voters because of its period trappings, Russell presented a counter narrative.
“I don’t think it’s the '70s,” he said. “My impression is they’re responding to the aliveness of the storytelling and the characters and the humanity of the film, the intensity and the rich humanity.”
On the heels of a seven-year filmmaking drought between the release of Payne’s 2004 wine dramedy “Sideways” and “The Descendants” in 2011, the Nebraska-born director and screenwriter landed a Globe nomination for direction for his father-son road-trip comedy-drama “Nebraska.”
“It’s an excellent year for film, and it’s really great to be part of this discussion,” Payne said.
He laughed when asked why his rather serious new movie was also nominated as best motion picture in the musical or comedy slot.
“Well, it’s got a karaoke scene. So it’s a musical,” said the director, who previously won a Golden Globe for the screenplay of 2003’s “About Schmidt.”
Until Cuarón’s outer-space thriller “Gravity” began sweeping up critics awards and breaking box-office records this year, the Mexican writer-director-producer was known primarily for being a kind of moviemaking shape-shifter -- for being nearly impossible to categorize.
Equally adept at working in Spanish and English, Cuarón was nominated for an original screenplay Oscar for his Mexican road romance “Y Tu Mamá También” and landed a BAFTA for producing the Mexican-Spanish fantasy film “Pan’s Labyrinth.” (In his second language, Cuarón directed the blockbuster “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and scored two additional Academy Award nominations for the London-set sci-fi drama he adapted for the screen, “Children of Men.”)
British journalist-turned-filmmaker Greengrass established his movie bona fides making tough-minded political dramas such as 2002’s “Bloody Sunday” and the Oscar-nominated “United 93.” But he catapulted onto Hollywood’s A-list directing the blockbuster Matt Damon-starring “Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.”
The movie responsible for Greengrass’ Globes nomination Thursday, the Tom Hanks hostage drama “Captain Phillips,” chronicles the harrowing real-life 2009 hijacking of an American freighter by Somali pirates -- a natural fit for the director, according to the film's producer, Scott Rudin.
“He’s a very political filmmaker,” said Rudin. “It’s a movie about globalization. And that globalization story is subsumed by a thriller -- by the tropes of a suspense film. It sort of uses 100% of what Paul has, and not every movie does that.”
Staff writers John Horn and Steven Zeitchik contributed reporting to this posting.
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