By Michael Thurston ,AFP
LOS ANGELES — Silent French-directed film “The Artist” hopes to make a lot of noise at the Golden Globes on Sunday, aiming to add to a string of awards and nominations ahead of the all-important Oscars. But it faces stiff competition from a slew of films starring A-listers including George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep, who was nominated for her gripping turn as British premier Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
British comic Ricky Gervais is meanwhile promising a no-holds-barred performance in his third time as Globes host, invited back despite ruffling some Hollywood feathers with near-the-bone jokes at last year’s show. “They have got to know I am going to do the same again,” he said on the eve of the show. “They can expect the same as last year, with different — I nearly said ‘targets’ — different subjects and different jokes.” “The Artist,” by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, tops the Globes nominees this year with nods in six categories including best musical or comedy and best director. The black-and-white film, billed as a tribute to the silent movie era, tells the story of silent star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) whose career is torpedoed by the arrival of the “talkies.” It won best film and best director at the New York Film Critics Circle awards in November, and has garnered a string of nods since — including this week from the Directors Guild of America (DGA), seen as a key Oscars indicator. It won yet another prize just three days before the Globes, taking the Critics’ Choice best film award in Los Angeles on Thursday evening. But it also drew unusually harsh criticism this week, when veteran star Kim Novak, in a full-page ad in industry daily Variety, accused Hazanavicius of “rape” for using music from the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Vertigo.” And for all the tributes, the French film faces tough contenders at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Sunday. After its six nods, tied for second were “The Help,” about black servants in the pre-civil rights era U.S. south, and “The Descendants” starring George Clooney. Both were nominated in five categories for the Globes. There were four each for Clooney-directed thriller “The Ides of March,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” and “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt. Notable absentees from the Globes shortlists were Terrence Malick’s critically acclaimed “The Tree of Life” — which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes — as well as Cold War thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” They could yet win gongs though: nominations for the Oscars are due to be announced on Jan. 24, ahead of the 84th Academy Awards show — the climax of Hollywood’s awards season on Feb. 26. The Los Angeles Times noted that the Globes shortlists were celebrity-heavy — testifying to the reputation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) for getting star power on the red carpet. Other “A” listers nominated include Elton John and Madonna for best song — Elton for “Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo and Juliet,” and Madonna for “Masterpiece” from “W.E.,” which she directed, about King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. At last year’s show Gervais lampooned the Globes — seen in Hollywood as on a totally different level to the elite and peer-selected Oscars Academy— for nominating a lackluster film purely to get mega-stars Pitt and Jolie to attend. The creator of the hit TV comedy “The Office” said he is looking forward to Sunday — whoever wins — and says he’s not worried if anyone takes offense. “Maybe they might be a little bit more chilled out about it this year.
“Or not. Whatever. I don’t care,” he told the BBC.