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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Golden Globes picks: Stranger than ever

December 2, 2008 |  6:08 pm

GlobeMy colleague, the always colorful awards-season zealot Tom O'Neil, got an early peek of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. eligibility committee's breakdown of this year's awards films and what categories they fall into. As usual, the HFPA made some odd choices. O'Neil reports that the eligibility committee placed "Slumdog Millionaire's" star, Dev Patel, in the supporting actor category, even though he's the unquestionable focus of the film. The committee also decided that "The Reader's" Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes would compete in the supporting actress and actor categories, which seems something of a stretch, considering how much screen time both actors have.

The HFPA also put "W." into the drama category, even though Lionsgate, which released the film earlier this fall, submitted it as--gasp--a comedy. The decision seems right, since the Oliver Stone-directed film was clearly intended as a serious commentary on the outgoing president's strange rise to power. So why did Lionsgate go for the Globes' musical and comedy category? Lionsgate production chief Tom Ortenberg gave a one word answer: "Satire." The two-word answer that might better represent the studio's line of thinking would be: Easier category. The film has only the slimmest of slim hopes at any award, unless the Huffington Post starts giving out Huffies for the best conservative-bashing movies of the year, but the Globes' comedy category is invariably less competitive than the musical/drama one.

I asked Ortenberg if he was disappointed that "W." would have to go up against the "Frost/Nixon" and "Milks" of the world. "Unquestionably there's a little less competition in the comedy category," he said. "But because of that, a win in the dramatic category is a little bit more meaningful. I'm not sure that we won't end up being happier in the category we're in now. We still have high hopes for the film to compete in several categories." The film's strongest performance is by Josh Brolin, who plays a very believable Bush and is still looking for his first big award-season nomination, having been inexplicably ignored by the academy last year, despite delivering a strong performance in "No Country for Old Men."

Photo of a Golden Globe award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. / Getty Images