Golden Globes nominations: Snubs and surprises

LOS ANGELES (MCT) – The Golden Globes have a long and often amusing reputation for nomination-morning howlers. But when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. unveiled its 2014 nominees Thursday morning, there was no "Tourist," no "Burlesque," no "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" - partly owing to so many comedies of actual distinction in the running, such as multiple nominees "American Hustle" and "Nebraska."
Dec 12, 2013
Zoe Saldana, from left, Aziz Ansari and Olivia Wilde laugh as they announce nominations for the Golden Globe Awards on Dec. 12, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

LOS ANGELES (MCT) – The Golden Globes have a long and often amusing reputation for nomination-morning howlers. But when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. unveiled its 2014 nominees Thursday morning, there was no "Tourist," no "Burlesque," no "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" - partly owing to so many comedies of actual distinction in the running, such as multiple nominees "American Hustle" and "Nebraska."

Yet that didn't mean the snubs and surprises, the jaw-droppers and the head-scratchers, weren't there. Here are six of the biggest:

– Not taking it to the Banks: "Saving Mr. Banks," John Lee Hancock's look at how Walt Disney cajoled a reluctant P.L. Travers to turn "Mary Poppins" into a movie, has been a favorite since it premiered at AFI Fest last month and screened around town, particularly with the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences. Many forecasters are pegging it for a best picture Oscar nomination. But when the HFPA weighed in with its best picture-drama nominations Thursday, "Banks" wasn't on the list. Was there fatigue for movies about Hollywood? Like the Oscars, the Globes gave a best picture prize to "Argo" last year and "The Artist" the year before. The HFPA didn't seem interested in doing it again.

– “The Butler" will not serve: Harvey Weinstein and the HFPA often fit hand in glove. And "Lee Daniels The Butler' is a big Harvey bet this season. But after scoring with three major Screen Actors Guild Award nominations Wednesday, "The Butler" ended up with exactly zero Thursday. That includes a shutout for the former Queen of Daytime. Which brings us to ...

– Living their best life? Oprah Winfrey, who of course returned to acting after a 15-year hiatus with a supporting turn in "The Butler," would seem tailor-made for the Golden Globes telecast. She brings star power in spades. And after her SAG Award nomination, it would hardly have been a stretch to give her a supporting actress nod. Instead, the HFPA went with long-shot Sally Hawkins as the drifter sister in "Blue Jasmine." Which brings us to ...

– Cool Brittannia: Many of the major surprises had this in common: a British theme. Steve Coogan for his screenplay of "Philomena." Hawkins for supporting actress in "Blue Jasmine." Kate Winslet in the actress category for her previously little-discussed turn in "Labor Day." "Rush," written by Brit fave Peter Morgan and in part about British Formula One legend James Hunt, for best picture-drama (maybe the biggest surprise of the morning). Idris Elba for best actor in "Mandela." The HFPA likes Brits. And perhaps for good reason – they form the international award group's second-largest voting bloc.

– “Frances Ha" is no joke: The HFPA is often believed to overlook worthy performances in smaller movies, particularly if they're from lesser-known stars who don't fizz up the red carpet. Julie Delpy and Greta Gerwig fit that profile – they gave two of the most acclaimed performances of the year as women grappling with maturity, relationships and other real-life issues. But they and their movies – "Before Midnight" and "Frances Ha," respectively – don't scream big ratings and attention. Yet the HFPA rewarded them just the same, giving each a slot on the best actress in a comedy / musical category, and over better-known stars of "The Heat" and others. In a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times, Delpy called it "not expected at all," while Gerwig was truly floored. 'My publicist called me at 5-something," she said, "and I didn't know it was today, so I thought it was the pharmacy was calling to tell me that my MedCo insurance didn't go through."

– The joy of laughter and forgetting: Yes, dissecting the HFPA's rationale can be as confounding as the Obamacare website. But the designation of "Her" as a comedy _ a big nominee, incidentally, with spots in actor, screenplay and best picture-comedy / musical – is a particularly glaring case. There are a couple of comedic moments, but a melancholy tone and a later-in-the-21st-century story of love gained and lost ain't exactly "Blazing Saddles." Did whimsy get confused with humor? Or did the Globes just want to open up a dramatic slot? Perhaps in the future we will understand.

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