Heaping seven nominations on both the con-artist melodrama “American Hustle” and the grimly historical “12 Years a Slave,” the Golden Globes nominations set up a showdown of contrasts: comedy and drama, light and dark, white and black.
The two films were validated as Academy Awards front-runners in the Globes nominations announced Dec. 12 in Beverly Hills, CA, by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, refining what had been a scattered awards season in a year many consider encouragingly plentiful of worthy movies.
The differences between the two top-nominees are vast. While David O. Russell’s fictionalized caper “American Hustle” takes a playful, exaggerated approach to an already outlandish story (the FBI’s scandal-uncovering Abscam investigation in the disco 1970s), Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, is unflinching in its portrait of Southern slavery — a subject Hollywood has seldom depicted rigorously or truthfully.
“I feel this film is pivotal and just good for the world,” said Lupita Nyong’o, who was nominated for best supporting actress. The other nominations for “12 Years a Slave” include best picture, drama; best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor; best director for McQueen; and best supporting actor for Michael Fassbender.
Most notably shutout was “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” the civil rights history told through a long-serving White House butler played by Forest Whitaker. Oprah Winfrey has been considered a favorite among supporting actresses. “The Butler” was entirely excluded from the nominee list, including Forest Whitaker in the title role.
Also denied were hopefuls “Fruitvale Station” and “Prisoners.”
“Fruitvale Station.” Sure filmmaker Ryan Coogler and lead actor Michael B. Jordan are newcomers, but the true-life injustice tale was numbing and received a large amount of praise and buzz. However, the indie release may be a bit of a distant memory for the HFPA, since it was released last summer. Plus there are no big stars here, sans Octavia Spenser’s appearance. But a complete out is quite a burn.
Associated Press writers Jessica Herndon, Anthony McCartney and Derrik J. Lang contributed to this report from Los Angeles.