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Somber, scary films rule field of Golden Globe nominees

By David Germain, The Associated Press
Friday December 21, 2001

BEVERLY HILLS — It’s definitely a year for the terrifying, troubled, twisted and tragic at the movies. Solemn films about delusion, blackmail, vengeance and doomed love dominated Golden Globe contenders, including “A Beautiful Mind” and “Moulin Rouge,” which led with six nominations each. 

“A Beautiful Mind” — starring Russell Crowe as schizophrenic math genius John Nash, tormented by hallucinations — was nominated for best dramatic picture Thursday. Its other nominations included Crowe for dramatic actor, Jennifer Connelly for supporting actress and Ron Howard for director. 

Competing in the musical or comedy category, “Moulin Rouge’s” nominations included best picture, actress Nicole Kidman, actor Ewan McGregor and director Baz Luhrmann. The tragicomic musical presents Kidman and McGregor as ill-fated lovers at a Paris nightclub in 1899. 

Kidman also was nominated for dramatic actress in the horror story “The Others.” 

Also cited for two films was Billy Bob Thornton: dramatic actor for his blackmailing barber in the Coen brothers’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There”; and musical or comedy actor for “Bandits,” in which he plays a neurotic bank robber whose quirks include Thornton’s real-life fear of antique furniture. 

“This is just a theory, but maybe the good stuff is sometimes the edgier stuff, because the people making it aren’t as worried about pleasing everybody, so artistic values don’t suffer as much,” said Thornton, who also stars in the sobering death-row drama “Monster’s Ball,” which earned a dramatic-actress nomination for Halle Berry. 

The Golden Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, often are a launchpad for a film’s Academy Award prospects. But no clear favorites are taking shape from the Globe nominations and earlier movie honors, which have been spread among a wide range of films. 

Sissy Spacek, a five-time Academy Award nominee who won for 1980’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” could become the front-runner for another Oscar. Spacek, who plays a vengeful mother in “In the Bedroom,” has been a top pick in early film honors. 

“There’s so many fabulous actresses from my generation, and there really aren’t enough roles to go around,” said Spacek, 51. “Maybe a film like ‘In the Bedroom’ will make people think of us older gals, sharpen their pencils and start writing more great roles for us.” 

The Golden Globe awards will air live Jan. 20 on NBC. 

Besides “A Beautiful Mind,” “In the Bedroom” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” the dramatic picture nominees were the fearsome fantasy epic “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “Mulholland Drive,” an enigmatic nightmare of jealousy and madness. 

“Moulin Rouge” is joined in the musical or comedy picture category by the romances “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Legally Blonde,” the animated “Shrek” and the class-war satire and murder mystery “Gosford Park.” 

Ben Kingsley earned nominations for two dark stories. He was cited for best actor in a TV movie or miniseries in “Anne Frank” and supporting actor on film for “Sexy Beast,” in which he plays a vicious hood. 

“I think it’s very brave and a sign of maturity in any culture that it can embrace the dark side fearlessly,” Kingsley said. “It shows people don’t want to eat candy all the time. They are intelligent enough to look at the full spectrum of life.” 

Even the musical and comedy acting categories had nominees for dark or twisted tales. Thora Birch was cited for her malcontented teen in the off-kilter “Ghost World.” John Cameron Mitchell had a nomination for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” in which he plays an East German transsexual on an anguished search for fame and love. 

“I think I always feel optimistic when the odd and twisted are recognized,” Mitchell said. “Maybe it’s because I feel odd and twisted myself and like to be recognized.” 

How such eccentric films will fare at the Oscars is uncertain. The Oscars tend to be more conservative than the Golden Globes. 

“The Hollywood Foreign Press, they’re pretty cool,” Birch said. “I always loved their offbeat choices of people to nominate.”