Star power boosts candidates -- with one exception

A year after nominating seven films for its Golden Globe dramatic feature category, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has managed to cap its enthusiasm to the usual five this time around. True to form, the org went for serious star-driven stories, including marital meltdown study “Revolutionary Road” and fellow Kate Winslet tour-de-force “The Reader,” with one notable exception: The Mumbai-set rags-to-riches tale “Slumdog Millionaire” features no Western A-list members and yet still managed to work its magic on the group.

Completing the category are “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Frost/Nixon,” which tied “Doubt” for most noms overall, though the latter film doesn’t count picture among its accolades. As it turns out, a number of high-profile hopefuls found themselves shut out of the category this year, including both Clint Eastwood pictures, “Gran Torino” and “Changeling,” and such star-powered critical faves as “Milk,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Wrestler.” If the pageantry of Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia” was going to work anywhere, it would have been the Golden Globes, so that oversight doesn’t bode well for its Oscar chances.

The foreign press contingent spread the love evenly enough among its five nominees that pundits will have a hard time handicapping a favorite. The director category offers no clues, representing the same five movies, and the only difference with screenplay is the substitution of “Doubt” for “Revolutionary Road” for potential writing honors. Overall, the nominations give the most significant boost to “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader” (both follow-ups by former drama-winning directors), which desperately needed such kudo attention to up their Oscar odds.

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