A pair of true-life stories, one grimly serious and the other an amoral lark, dominated nominations for the 71st annual Golden Globes, announced Thursday morning.
Steve McQueen's slavery epic 12 Years a Slave and David O. Russell's con game American Hustle led all movies with seven nominations each. The Globes are traditionally an early barometer of — perhaps a direct influence on — Academy Award balloting, with the Oscar nomination process beginning Dec. 27.
12 Years a Slave earned Globes nominations for McQueen's direction, Chiwetel Ejiofor's lead portrayal of a wrongfully enslaved free man, and searing supporting performances by Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita N'yongo.
The Globes traditionally divide movies into two categories, drama and musical/comedy, with 12 Years a Slave joining Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena and Rush as 2013's best dramatic feature.
American Hustle, opening Dec. 20 in Tampa Bay theaters, leads the musical/comedy feature competition that also includes Alexander Payne's Nebraska (opening Friday). Also in the mix and opening locally later are Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (Dec. 25), the odd, futuristic romance Her (Jan. 10) and the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis (sometime in January).
Russell's direction and four American Hustle actors were nominated for Golden Globes: lead performers Christian Bale and Amy Adams as swindlers at the core of the Abscam scandal of the 1970s, plus Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in supporting roles.
Another movie getting a notable awards season boost Thursday is Nebraska with five nominations, including Bruce Dern's portrayal of a grouch believing he has won a sweepstakes fortune. Dern, 77, is joined among best actor nominees by Robert Redford, also 77, for the open-sea adventure All is Lost. Redford and Dern co-starred nearly 40 years ago in The Great Gatsby.
Thursday's most notable exclusions included Lee Daniels' The Butler, which recently earned seven Screen Actors Guild award nominations but came up empty with Globes voters. That snub even extended to Oprah Winfrey, whose performance and popularity seemed to give her an inside track. Also left out: Tom Hanks channeling Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, and Harrison Ford's turn in the true-life baseball drama 42.
The Golden Globes, selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, will be presented Jan. 12 in Beverly Hills, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The organization is composed of less than 100 mostly freelance journalists proud of hobnobbing with celebrities and throwing Hollywood's most champagne-soaked party for a national TV audience.
Steve Persall can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.