Musicals the majority in this year's top film race

Comedies typically outnumber musicals among the Golden Globe picture contenders, but this year’s song-driven spectacles were apparently strong enough to make the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. sing a different tune.

Of the three musicals nominated, “Sweeney Todd” cuts the widest swath through the nominations, drawing mentions for Tim Burton’s direction as well as the lead performances of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Given the HFPA’s long-standing affection for star-driven, lavishly produced tuners (a la “Dreamgirls,” “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge”), “Sweeney Todd” would seem to have a very sharp edge.

By the same logic, however, it’d be a mistake to dismiss “Hairspray,” which made a stronger showing than expected with its acting nominations for John Travolta and star newcomer Nikki Blonsky. A sizable B.O. hit, “Hairspray” is as far removed visually, vocally and emotionally from “Sweeney Todd” as a musical can possibly get. As such, it could be an appealing alternative for voters turned off by the latter’s geysers of blood.

So, in theory, could the similarly high-spirited “Across the Universe.” But helmer Julie Taymor’s tribute to free-love psychedelia and the Vietnam War era, scored to songs from the Beatles’ catalog, couldn’t buy any love in the other categories.

Both of the nominated comedies present stronger possibilities. “Charlie’s Wilson War” has had arguably the awards season’s least predictable trajectory — touted as a sure-fire kudos contender early on, then dampened by mixed reactions, and now resurging with five GG nominations to only four for “Todd.”

“Juno” has been likened to last year’s scrappy, crowdpleasing fest favorite, “Little Miss Sunshine.” Given that “Dreamgirls” won the Globe but ultimately missed out on a bid for Oscar while “Sunshine” made it to the Academy’s final rounds, there are worse comparisons a “Juno” fan — and certainly there are many in the HFPA — could make.

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