Category arguments add to drama of Golden Globe nominations

Agreement has been hard to come by in Hollywood's awards season, even when it comes to who's in the hunt for what.

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The Golden Globe nominations, which will be announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in Beverly Hills, California, on Thursday morning, are at the centre of the drama surrounding the categorization of this year's movies and actors. Delineating drama and comedy (or musical) is a task unique to the Golden Globes, which honour films and lead performances for both. But this year, what roles qualify as lead or supporting parts is also stirring debate.

The disagreements are making for some peculiarities in a season considered unusually wide open. A day after receiving supporting actress nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, for example, Rooney Mara ("Carol") and Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl") will be considered for a best actress Globes nod. The HFPA ruled that both are co-leads, vetoing the submissions of each film's campaign strategists.

The decision was applauded by some, who noted the considerable screen-time of each. (Mara's actually surpasses that of her co-star, Cate Blanchett.) More questionable, though, was the HFPA's decision to consider David O. Russell's "Joy" and Ridley Scott's "The Martian" comedies.

Such a route is considered slightly easier going for those movies. "The Martian," a box-office hit and a possible Oscar favourite, stands a better chance of winning best picture at the Globes as a comedy than as a drama, where the field includes Tom McCarthy's acclaimed Boston Globe drama "Spotlight," Todd Haynes' '50s romance "Carol" and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's frontier epic "The Revenant."

"The Martian" is first and foremost a sci-fi adventure, but it's at least peppered throughout with humour from Drew Goddard's script. "Joy," is no sure nominee, even in comedy, but it's in the more awkward position of not really containing any comedy. Though its director David O. Russell has usually blended melodrama with screwball, his latest, starring Jennifer Lawrence as a mother and an inventor, is his most sober film.

Judd Apatow, whose own Amy Schumer comedy "Trainwreck" will compete in the category, earlier scoffed at such category hijinks: "Trying to dominate the comedy category when you are really a drama afraid of dramatic competition is a punk move," he said on Twitter.

The category kerfuffle will be one thing to look for Thursday morning. So will be whether the Globes can shed any light on an awards season thus far all over the map. George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road" was named best film by the National Board of Review. The New York Film Critics Circle selected "Carol." And the Los Angeles Film Critics Association went for "Spotlight."

"Spotlight" comes into the Globes enjoying the status as Academy Awards front runner, but stinging slightly after two of its stars, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton, failed to land supporting actor nominees from the Screen Actors on Wednesday. The film did earn a nod for best ensemble and a supporting nomination for Rachel McAdams.

Ricky Gervais will return as host for the Globes on Jan. 10. His third time in the gig follows three straight years of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts. Last year's NBC telecast dipped slightly from 2013's 10-year high, drawing 19.3 million viewers. Best drama went to Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," while Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel" captured the comedy category.


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