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Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant"
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Lily Tomlin and Sam Elliot, stars of "Grandma" | Paula Schwartz Photo
Lily Tomlin and Sam Elliot, stars of “Grandma” | Paula Schwartz Photo

See the full list of Golden Globes nominations here.

Thankfully, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Lily Tomlin, age 76, for best actress, musical or comedy, for her ferociously funny and poignant turn in “Grandma,” released earlier this year. Tomlin’s nomination for the Paul Wietz film was the one I was most hoping for when the Golden Globes announced their nominations early this morning, especially after the beloved cultural icon was overlooked last week by film critic groups on both sides of the coast. (Later, Tomlin received a nomination for best actress in a comedy/musical television series for “Grace and Frankie,” co-starring her pal Jane Fonda.)

The Golden Globe nominations are always a wild card, unpredictable and surprising, which is always part of the fun. The Globes have acquired some prestige since their early days when they voted Pia Zadora breakthrough star for her poorly received film “Butterfly” over Kathleen Turner’s acclaimed performance in “Body Heat” and Elizabeth McGovern in “Ragtime.” The fact that Zadora’s billionaire husband Meshulam Riklis flew members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to Las Vegas to hear her sing and dance probably had nothing to do with her Golden Globe Award. (Does anyone remember Pia for anything else?)

Saoirse Ronan, star of "Brooklyn" | Paula Schwartz Photo
Saoirse Ronan, star of “Brooklyn” | Paula Schwartz Photo

One thing hasn’t changed about the Hollywood Foreign press, comprised of some 70 to 80 reporters from far flung places, which is that they love big movie stars and they love to party with them on their one big night. The Golden Globes will air Sunday, January 10, 2016, 8 to 11 p.m., hosted by Ricky Gervais, who is sure to insult the HFPA, who are at least good sports about the whole thing.

To get audiences to tune in on their big night this year, the HFPA sprinkled their nominations with as many glitzy stars as possible, as they always do. Still, they got many of their nominations right in a year when the awards race is wide open and unpredictable. But of course, it’s always more fun to focus on the snubs.

Among the positives, Leonardo DiCaprio, still chasing that elusive Oscar win, just moved closer to grabbing that little gold statuette with his nomination this morning for best actor for the harrowing Western revenge drama, “The Revenant,” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won the Oscar last year for best director and film for “Birdman.”

The Golden Globes doubles down, nominating actors and films in both drama and musical/comedy categories, which makes for twice as many nominations. So it’s not a clear harbinger for what is to come when the Oscars are announced, but does provide some direction.

Todd Haynes, director of "Carol" | Paula Schwartz Photo
Todd Haynes, director of “Carol” | Paula Schwartz Photo

If that is the case, Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” about two women in love in 1950’s New York, is Oscar bound in many categories.  This morning it was a big winner with five nominations, including for stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett and for Carter Burwell, who scored the gorgeous music.

Besides the “Carol” stars, the other actresses in this category are Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn,” Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl” and Brie Larson for “Room.” (Dennis Quaid badly mangled the pronunciation of Saoirse’s name this morning when he read the nominations, and the inability to say the Irish actress’s name will probably be a running joke on awards night.)

Snubbed by the HFPA were performances by older actors, including the brilliant star turns by Blythe Danner for “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years.” Rampling received best actress honors for her performance at the Berlin International Film Festival and was named best actress last week by the Boston and Los Angeles Film Critics. The actresses, both in their 70’s, represent an age group whose stories are rarely told in films, and the oversight stings.

As for older male actors, terrific performances by Sam Elliott as a spurned lover in “Grandma” and Michael Caine as an acclaimed composer reflecting back on his life in “Youth” were also overlooked. (Jane Fonda received a supporting actress nomination for her powerhouse but brief performance in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth.”

Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” also got left out in the cold. The film received nods for best screenplay for Tarantino and Ennio Morricone for his beautiful score – the movie has a beautiful overture – but the only actor recognized was Jennifer Jason Leigh for best supporting actress.

Mark Ruffalo at the NY Premiere of "Spotlight" | Paula Schwartz Photo
Mark Ruffalo at the NY Premiere of “Spotlight” | Paula Schwartz Photo

Mark Ruffalo’s nomination for “Infinitely Polar Bear” – a movie almost no one saw – over “Spotlight” also befuddled. And Al Pacino’s nomination for “Danny Collins,” a movie I can’t even remember was ever screened for critics, is just out of left field.

Besides Tomlin, another veteran actress nominated in the best comedy/musical category is Maggie Smith for “The Lady in the Van,” which is equal parts drama and comedy. Smith is realizing her biggest career success as the imperious Countess in the the PBS series “Downton Abbey,” the polar opposite of this movie about a homeless woman who lives in her van. Other women in this category are Jennifer Lawrence (“Joy”), Amy Schumer (“Trainwreck”) and Melissa McCarthy (“Spy”).

Joining DiCaprio in the all important best actor in a drama category, especially as far as the Oscar race goes, are Michael Fassbender (“Jobs”), Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”), last year’s Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl) and Will Smith (“Concussion”). Smith, whose last few films have performed badly with critics and at the box office, gets a big lift with this nomination. The film is getting good buzz in early media screenings, and Smith is a sweet guy beloved by the press for his accessibility and good humor. Everyone is glad to see him back in the game.

Rooney Mara, star of "Carol" | Paula Schwartz Photo
Rooney Mara, star of “Carol” | Paula Schwartz Photo

As far as being a bellwether for the Oscars, the most closely watched race is the best drama picture category. So far “Spotlight,” with wins by some major critics groups, is the film to beat. Other films nominated in this category are “The Revenant,” the aforementioned “Carol,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Room.” “Spotlight,” which follows the Boston Globe investigation of child abuse by the Catholic clergy, has the kind of gravitas the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences likes to honor.

The Golden Globe television nominations aren’t considered as important, which is hammered in by the location of the nominees who always sit behind the movie stars during the awards show.

In the television category, the most surprising omission was for “Downton Abbey,” which received a nod only for Joanne Froggatt for her role as the beleaguered house servant Anna Bates in PBS’s most popular show, which begins its final and sixth season January 2016.

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