Offering the first major indication of where this year's Oscar-season winds may be blowing, the Golden Globe Award nominations announced Thursday delivered a series of surprises that portend an unpredictable race to come.
That said, when it comes to the Globes — which has a history of eyebrow-raising, out-of-left-field picks (remember "The Martian" as best comedy or musical?) — surprises are generally, well, not so surprising.
A number of movies that were expected to fare well, including Alfonso Cuarón's poetic, black-and-white "Roma," the gonzo period dramedy "The Favourite" and the Bradley Cooper-directed remake "A Star Is Born," made strong showings, cementing their spots as front-runners at this early stage of the awards derby.
But the nominations also included films like the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the Disney sequel "Mary Poppins Returns" that have been largely absent from the Oscar conversation thus far, while snubbing others, like the heist thriller "Widows" and the Neil Armstrong biopic "First Man," that had been considered serious contenders earlier this fall.
In perhaps the biggest surprise, director Adam McKay's upcoming Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" drew 6 nominations — the most of any film and a robust haul for a movie that is likely to be politically polarizing when it opens on Dec. 25. Along with a nod for best picture in the comedy or musical category, the film earned nominations for McKay in the directing and screenplay categories as well as for the performances of Christian Bale as Cheney, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.
"It was obviously an ambitious, challenging movie — it covers five, six decades of history," McKay told The Times after the nominations were announced. "These actors just went the whole nine yards and gave such passionate detailed performances, and I loved seeing so many of them acknowledged."
Hot on the heels of "Vice" — and tied with "The Favourite" and "A Star Is Born" in the overall tally — the racially tinged dramedy "Green Book" pulled in five nominations, including best picture in the comedy and musical category as well as nods for its screenplay, director Peter Farrelly, actor Viggo Mortensen and supporting actor Mahershala Ali. That strong vote of confidence could help sustain a film that has thus far underperformed at the box office.
"The thing that feels great about it is, a movie like this needs nominations for Mrs. Cornbluth in Duluth to find out about it," said Farrelly. "And that's important. I know people know about this movie in New York and L.A. and Chicago, but I want America to find out about it."
Granted, Globes nominations, which are made by a small group of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. rather than film industry professionals, are generally not considered reliable harbingers of future Oscar nods. But the nominations can lend some films and performances a sense of momentum as awards season gathers steam, while taking some wind out of the sails of others.
In the drama category, the nominees are "Black Panther," "BlacKkKlansman," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "A Star Is Born." Only the second superhero movie to earn a Golden Globe best picture nomination following "Deadpool," "Black Panther" could become the first comic-book movie to land in the best picture Oscar race.
Along with "Vice" and "Green Book," the other nominees for best motion picture in the comedy or musical category were "Crazy Rich Asians," "The Favourite" and "Mary Poppins Returns."
One of the year's most acclaimed films, "Roma" picked up three nods, for foreign language, screenplay and director. (Due to the rules of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., "Roma" was not eligible to be nominated for best picture in the drama category.)
For months, Oscar watchers have been predicting that the film will bring streaming giant Netflix its first best-picture Oscar nomination. At the same time, the film — which will be available via streaming on Dec. 14, just three weeks after opening in a handful of theaters — has found itself at the center of a debate over Netflix's place in the wider film ecosystem.
"I don't know if I have an answer to those questions because those are industry questions that are far away from the endeavor of filmmaking," Cuarón said. "Those questions relate more to business and media than actual filmmaking. All I can say from that standpoint is I just hope that all these models can come into a balance, because I believe that things can coexist."
Nominated for lead actor in a drama were Willem Dafoe ("At Eternity's Gate"), Lucas Hedges ("Boy Erased"), Rami Malek ("Bohemian Rhapsody"), John David Washington ("BlacKkKlansman") and Bradley Cooper ("A Star Is Born"), the last of whom also was nominated for best director along with Cuarón, Farrelly, McKay and Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman").
One of the most politically incendiary films in a year that has been dominated by politics, "BlacKkKlansman" pulled in four nominations, including the lead actor nod in the drama category for Washington, who plays a black Colorado police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.
"Whatever the critiques have been of the film or the praise has been of the film, the temperature of those have been the same: passionate," Washington said. "I've heard, 'I learned from "BlacKkKlansman." It feels like people seem to be moved to have somewhat uncomfortable conversations about race relations and changing the vernacular of hate in this country and finding some kind of common ground."
Among the acting nominees, all three principal stars of "The Favourite" earned nods — Olivia Colman as lead actress, and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in supporting — a testament to the rapport they share in Yorgos Lanthimos' gleefully nasty tale of royal court intrigue.
"Chemistry is a very difficult thing to put into words — there is something alchemical that happens," Weisz said. "If we could bottle it, we all would have, wouldn't we?"
Nominees for lead actress in a drama are Glenn Close ("The Wife"), Lady Gaga ("A Star Is Born"), Nicole Kidman ("Destroyer"), Melissa McCarthy ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?") and Rosamund Pike ("A Private War").
Among the nominees for lead actor in a comedy or musical are Bale, Mortensen, Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Mary Poppins Returns"), Robert Redford ("The Old Man & the Gun") and John C. Reilly ("Stan and Ollie").
In the supporting categories, actresses Stone, Weisz, Adams, Claire Foy ("First Man") and Regina King ("If Beale Street Could Talk") all scored nominations, as did actors Ali, Rockwell, Timothée Chalamet ("Beautiful Boy"), Adam Driver ("BlacKkKlansman") and Richard E. Grant ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?").
For some of the nominees — like Redford, who has earned six Golden Globe Awards and five nominations dating all the way back to 1966 — receiving the early-morning call may have felt somewhat old hat.
But for at least one — 15-year-old newcomer Elsie Fisher, who earned a nomination for lead actress in a musical or comedy for her turn as an awkward middle-schooler in "Eighth Grade" — hearing her name announced alongside Colman, "Crazy Rich Asians" star Constance Wu and veterans Charlize Theron ("Tully") and Emily Blunt ("Mary Poppins Returns") was a mind-blowing experience.
The Globes ceremony, which will air on NBC on Jan. 6 and be hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, has a reputation as the loosest — and booziest — telecast on the awards season calendar. Fisher said she isn't sure what to expect.
"I feel like such a fraud, but I've never really watched the award shows," she said. "I feel like being a 15-year-old at the Globes won't be too much of a problem. I've been at events where people are drinking alcohol, and no one's peer pressured me, like, 'Come on, get some of this wine!' "
Times staff writers Amy Kaufman, Sonaiya Kelley and Mark Olsen contributed to this report.