‘The Artist’ and George Clooney rule the 2012 Golden Globes film nominations

The nominations for the 2012 Golden Globes are in, and, not surprisingly, one movie pops up more frequently than any others: Michel Hazanavicius’ heartfelt valentine to the silent era, “The Artist.”

The film gathered six nominations, including Best Comedy or Musical, while “The Help” and the George Clooney starrer “The Descendants” racked up five. Clooney was nominated for a landmark three awards, including a directing award for “The Ides of March.” Ryan Gosling, his co-star in that film, also picked up two nominations. 

This year’s Best Drama contenders are somewhat safe, predictable and populist. There’s the domestic dramedy (“The Descendants”), melodrama about intolerance (“The Help”), family-friendly fantasy (“Hugo”), political thriller (“The Ides of March”), topical drama (“Moneyball”) and old-fashioned Spielbergian war drama (“War Horse”).

The Best Comedy Or Musical section may actually prove a bit more interesting to some viewers. Battling it out against “The Artist” are “50/50,” fan favorite “Bridesmaids,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” and “My Week with Marilyn.”

2011’s “It” boys, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling both starred in multiple films this year and were both snubbed by SAG, and now they’ll compete against some established names for Best Actor in a Drama. Joining Fassbender (“Shame”) and Gosling (“The Ides of March”) are George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”), and “Moneyball” star Brad Pitt. 

To be nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama category, Glenn Close convincingly dressed like a man in “Albert Nobbs,” Rooney Mara got punked up for David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and Meryl Streep transformed into Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” Tilda Swinton (“We Need To Talk About Kevin”) and Viola Davis (“The Help”) round out the nominees.

Jodie Foster will compete with her “Carnage” co-star Kate Winslet against Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”), Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”), Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”) for Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Actress.

For Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical, the nominees are: “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin, Brendan Gleeson (“The Guard”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“50/50”), Ryan Gosling (this time for “Crazy Stupid Love”) and “Midnight in Paris'” Owen Wilson.

The supporting categories hold a few more surprises. On the male side, Kenneth Branagh was tapped for playing Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week with Marilyn,” Albert Brooks for his calm killer in “Drive,” Jonah Hill for his straightman turn in “Moneyball,” Viggo Mortensen as Freud in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” and award season favorite Christopher Plummer for “Beginners.”

Like yesterday’s SAG nominees, “The Help” landed two supporting female nominees, namely Octavia Spencer and 2011 “It” girl Jessica Chastain. The other ladies included Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”), Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) and Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”). “Bridesmaids” favorite Melissa McCarthy was not included.

The directing section is made up of veterans and newcomers, and even features a big name star-turned-director. Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”), George Clooney (“The Ides of March”), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”), Michel Hazanivicus (“The Artist”)  and Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”) will compete for Best Director of a Drama. Steven Spielberg, with both “Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse” out this month, was snubbed. 

Allen’s long been a favorite of the Globes, and his latest film “Midnight in Paris” could walk away with the Best Screenplay trophy, although there’s some stiff competition, with most of the nominated screenplays based on previously published work. “The Ides of March” boasts a script by star Clooney, with Grant Heslov and Beau Willamon, based on his play. “The Descendants” was adapted from the novel of the same name by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and director Alexander Payne. This is the first Payne film not co-written by Jim Taylor, although he co-produced. “Moneyball” was co-written by the dream team of Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) and Steve Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”).  Finally, the silent melodrama “The Artist.” written by director Hazanavicius, rounds out the nominees. 

Over in the Best Foreign Language Film section, Zhang Yimou’s WWII drama “Flowers of War” (starring Christian Bale) seems to be the one to beat, although the HFPA was able to sneak another big Hollywood star into the category; nominee “The Land of Blood and Honey” marks the directing debut of Angelina Jolie. Festival favorite Pedro Almodovar’s latest, “The Skin I Live In” (starring Antonio Banderas) should also put up a strong fight. The other nominees are The Dardennes Brothers’ Belgian drama “The Kid with A Bike” and Iran’s acclaimed “A Separation.”

Ludovic Bource’s score was crucial to the silent comedy and pathos of “The Artist,” and even incorporated a few strains of Bernard Herrmann’s “Vertigo” score to tap the nostalgia of voters in the Best Original Score category. Howard Shore’s score for Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” is likewise of the heartwarming variety. Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski was acknowledged for his music to Madonna’s “W.E.” Last year’s Oscar-winning duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”) once again seem to be awards favorites for their work on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but you certainly can’t count out the legendary John Williams for his “War Horse” score. 

And then there’s Madonna herself. The Material Girl directed the period romance “W.E.,” and also contributed the song “Masterpiece,” which could win the Best Original Song category. The other nominees are “Hello Hello” from the animated “Gnomeo and Juliet,” “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher,” “Lay My Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs” and “The Help’s” “The Living Proof.”

There’s isn’t much surprise to be found in the Best Animated Feature Film category, although it remains to be seen whether the Oscars will extend the same courtesy to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s mo-cap epic “The Adventures of Tintin.” The other nominees are “Arthur Christmas,” Pixar’s “Cars 2,” the “Shrek” spin-off “Puss in Boots” and the Johnny Depp-voiced western “Rango.” This was a crowded field this year, and it appears that the HFPA just couldn’t make room for “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Rio” or “Happy Feet Two.”

The 69th annual Golden Globes Awards nominations were announced by Gerard Butler, Woody Harrelson, Rashida Jones and Sofia Vergara early on Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Globes will air January 15 at 8 pm ET, with returning host Ricky Gervais. 

See the complete nominees list here. Read about the TV nominations here.

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