It's "Brokeback Mountain" — and a valley of disarray far below.
Nominations for the 63rd annual Golden Globe Awards confirmed that the love affair between two cowboys has become this year's critical sensation, as "Brokeback Mountain" collected a leading seven Golden Globe nominations, including best dramatic motion picture.
But Tuesday's selections by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. — an 86-member group with a checkered reputation but an indisputably influential position in Hollywood's ever-escalating awards race — did little to identify other favorites in what is turning into an unusually wide-open awards season battle.
Because they nominate movies in two (sometimes strangely) defined categories — dramas, and musicals or comedies — Golden Globe voters announce nearly double the movie nominations as do Oscar voters. Yet even with two Golden Globe categories, several films that industry prognosticators had considered to be Oscar front-runners barely registered.
Steven Spielberg was nominated for directing "Munich," but the film was not among contenders for best dramatic motion picture. Similarly, Peter Jackson also was named in the director race, but his "King Kong" did not make it into the best dramatic motion picture race.
"Munich" ended up with only one other nomination, for screenplay, as did "King Kong," which was nominated for original score, even though composer James Newton Howard had just six weeks to create and record the soundtrack after original composer Howard Shore had a falling out with Jackson.
"Memoirs of a Geisha," which was banking on end-of-the-year awards attention to boost its commercial prospects, collected but two nominations, one going to Ziyi Zhang for best dramatic actress and another to John Williams for score.
Universal Pictures hoped it could spark some Oscar momentum for "Cinderella Man," which came and went in June and was recently re-released in theaters. But Golden Globe voters omitted the boxing tale from the best dramatic picture, instead awarding "Cinderella Man" nominations for best dramatic actor (Russell Crowe) and supporting actor (Paul Giamatti).
"I was very surprised," Giamatti said. "Shocked in fact."
"Capote," one of the year's best-reviewed movies, also was not nominated for best dramatic movie, although star Philip Seymour Hoffman was named in the best dramatic actor race.
Often considered an accurate indicator of Academy Award nominations, the Globes do not always presage the eventual Oscar winners. Last year, for example, the HFPA gave its top movie prizes to "The Aviator" and "Sideways." The best picture Oscar, however, went to "Million Dollar Baby."
In addition to being selected for best dramatic motion picture consideration, "Brokeback Mountain," which has dominated awards handed out by top film critics organizations, was nominated for best director for Ang Lee, best dramatic actor for Heath Ledger, best screenplay, best supporting actress, best song and best original score. The only slight: "Brokeback Mountain" costar Jake Gyllenhaal was not nominated for best supporting actor.
"If we knew what love is, we would have stopped telling love stories 2,000 years ago," Lee said in an interview after the nominations were announced. "Entertainment is just a small way we try to understand it."
"The Squid and the Whale," a harrowing account of a family's divorce, was placed in the musical or comedy competition, and was nominated for best picture. It is up against "Mrs. Henderson Presents," a World War II story about a burlesque theater; the Jane Austen adaptation "Pride & Prejudice"; a movie version of the musical "The Producers"; and the Johnny Cash biography "Walk the Line."
Nominated for best dramatic movie, in addition to "Brokeback Mountain," were the Edward R. Murrow story "Good Night, and Good Luck"; Woody Allen's murder drama "Match Point"; the crime thriller "A History of Violence"; and the spy drama "The Constant Gardener."
"We are very thrilled," said Rachel Weisz, costar of "The Constant Gardener." "It was an August movie and you never know if you will be remembered, but it seemed to have been. I think it is an important film."
Joining Crowe, Ledger and Hoffman in the best dramatic actor category were "Hustle & Flow's" Terrence Howard and "Good Night, and Good Luck's" David Strathairn.
Nominated alongside Zhang for best dramatic actress were Maria Bello for "A History of Violence," Felicity Huffman for "Transamerica," Gwyneth Paltrow for "Proof" and Charlize Theron for "North Country."
Because there are so few Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. journalists voting for the Golden Globes, there often are ties that yield six — rather than five — nominations in a given category, which happened this year in four categories, including the directing and comedy or musical actor races.
The six best comedy or musical actor nominees were "The Matador's" Pierce Brosnan, "The Squid and the Whale's" Jeff Daniels, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's" Johnny Depp, "Breakfast on Pluto's" Cillian Murphy, "Walk the Line's" Joaquin Phoenix and Nathan Lane from "The Producers."
The musical or comedy actress nominees were Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents," Keira Knightley for "Pride & Prejudice," Laura Linney for "The Squid and the Whale," Sarah Jessica Parker in "The Family Stone" and Reese Witherspoon for "Walk the Line."
Competing against Lee, Spielberg and Jackson for best director (among the categories not bifurcated between dramas and comedies) were "Match Point's" Allen, "Good Night, and Good Luck's" George Clooney and "The Constant Gardener's" Fernando Meirelles.
Clooney received three nominations in all, including one for best supporting actor for his work in "Syriana." He will face Matt Dillon from "Crash," Will Ferrell in "The Producers," Bob Hoskins in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and Giamatti for "Cinderella Man."
The nominees for best supporting actress were "Match Point's" Scarlett Johansson, "North Country's" Frances McDormand, "The Constant Gardener's" Weisz, "Brokeback Mountain's" Michelle Williams and Shirley MacLaine for "In Her Shoes."
The HFPA voters have largely succeeded in overcoming their reputation for celebrating mediocre or arcane movies and performances and accepting potentially vote-swaying handouts. USA Films famously sent each Globe voter a $295 Coach watchto promote Sharon Stone's work in 1999's "The Muse"; the watches were returned.
This year, Variety reported that Globe voters received a free DVD player as part of the promotion for Chris Rock's television series "Everybody Hates Chris." Globe voters, who later returned the players, nominated the sitcom for best musical or comedy television series.
Among other eyebrow-raising nominations this year was a selection for best song for "Christmas in Love" from an obscure Italian movie of the same name.
The Globes will be presented in Beverly Hill on Jan. 16 in a ceremony to be broadcast on NBC.
Times staff writers Susan King and Rachel Abramowitz contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times