The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves having fun with celebrities, especially while picking up the tab at their annual awards soiree, so the celebrities will speak to the reporters they usually shun.
This tiny group of film reporters — mostly unread in the U.S. — with enormous clout during movie awards season has been criticized in past years for nominating good party guests, if not the best cinematic achievers.
Luckily there's Up in the Air and its affable superstar George Clooney to build an invitation list upon. Up in the Air led all films with six nominations including best dramatic film and Clooney as best actor in a drama.
This year's nominations, announced Tuesday morning, are admirably short of that kind of fawning attention. The only guest at the Jan. 15 awards show whose credentials should be checked is Julia Roberts for her best comedy/musical actress nod for the underachieving and mostly forgotten Duplicity. But Julia's always so nice and toothy-smiley, and she doesn't drink much, so the tab will be cheaper than nominating Zooey Deschanel of (500) Days of Summer, who deserves it.
One obvious point of debate for awards watchers will be the omission of Invictus from the best drama finalists, although director Clint Eastwood, actors Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, and the screenplay were nominated.
Instead, the Globes gave the slot thought to be reserved for Invictus to another movie with an odd title, James Cameron's futuristic fantasy Avatar.
This year's Golden Globes take on a bit more importance as an Oscars predictor after the Academy Awards decided to expand its best picture finalists to 10 from five, as it has been for decades. The Globes always nominate 10 movies for best picture; five dramas and five comedies or musicals in separate categories.
Browsing this year's 10 Globes nominees, the list looks like a decent prediction of what the Oscars will do. Three nominees — Avatar, It's Complicated and (500) Days of Summer — aren't likely to make the Oscar short list. The latter two films are probably too fluffy and indie, respectively, to get that kind of academy support.
Avatar looks vulnerable for three reasons: Academy voters have proven they love Eastwood and his movies, they don't vote for sci-fi fantasy often in major categories, and Cameron's "king of the world" gloating after sweeping the awards with Titanic still sticks in a lot of craws.
Meryl Streep earned her 24th and 25th career Golden Globe nominations, both in the best musical/comedy actress category. Streep was nominated for playing super chef Julia Child in Julie & Julia and a divorced woman cheating with her ex-husband in It's Complicated.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/movies. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.