Nominees share their thoughts

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James Cameron admits he didn’t know how “Avatar” would play come awards time, but now with a Golden Globe nom for the pic that question might be answered.

“It’s very cool and somewhat unexpected because it’s a genre picture,” Cameron said. “The HFPA saw something in the movie that went beyond science-fiction. People are connecting to it and that’s a relief as a filmmaker. I just watched it with an audience for the first time at the premiere. For four years before that you’re in critical director mode and then –” he laughed, “I couldn’t do a thing about it.”

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“Up in the Air” director Jason Reitman said he believes his film has clicked with both the cultural and kudo zeitgeist because during hard economic times, there’s a need to see others relate to what so many are going through.

“It’s a movie that speaks to 2009 on many levels,” he said. “The main character speaks to the idea of being lost at the moment. I can’t help but feel in 10 years from now, this movie will speak to this year.”

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“The nomination is sort of icing on the cake after all these years of trying to get this project going,” said Morgan Freeman of the long-gestating “Invictus.” “It doesn’t get much better than this.”

Freeman, nominated in the film drama actor category, added, “We didn’t really have to create anything here and I knew when Clint (Eastwood) came on he would pull it all together. And it’s just nice that all three of us got nominated.”

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Helen Mirren was glad to hear that audiences aren’t treating “The Last Station” like a homework assignment in Russian history.

“It’s very accessible,” said the actress nominated for her role as Sofya in the pic. “You think Tolstoy and that it’s going to be heavy but it’s not. It’s light and humane. It’s a simple film about love and marriage. This kind of nom really helps people become aware of the film.”

As for her fiery character, Mirren added: “She’s a volcano of a woman, though I suspect the Russian people will look at her and say, ‘That’s what we’re like.’ For them, she’s not out of the ordinary.”

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Marion Cotillard said she never was fully at ease learning the dance numbers in “Nine” for director Rob Marshall.

“I have to confess that I thought the dancing would be easier than the singing, but it was really demanding,” said the Oscar winner for “La Vie en Rose.” “When you sing, you can hear the song right after you record it and you can fix things. But with dancing, when you rehearse you work in front of the mirror. I have a problem with my left and right, and in front of the mirror those are opposite.”

“We were lucky to work with people who trusted us and gave us all the energy and time to do something special. I was just happy that Rob was happy.”

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Veteran actor Christopher Plummer, who just turned 80 last weekend, said his tempestuous onscreen marriage with Helen Mirren’s Sofya gave him the most joy in playing Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station.”

“‘Rocky’ is a polite word,” Plummer said of the characters’ relationship. “The end of their lives was the most theatrical part of the their time together, the most tempermental and agonizing. They were wonderfully theatrical together. She was a larger-than-life creature.”

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First-time nominee Gabourey Sidibe said she wasn’t worried as much about whether or not her name would get called as much as the prospect that the person saying it might mispronounce it.

“I did go to sleep a little bit, but I was still really nervous and I didn’t know if Mr. Justin (Timberlake) was going to say my name or not,” said Sidibe. “When he did I was just so excited and he got brownie points for saying my name correctly as well.”

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Portraying a member of military suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Tobey Maguire’s main focus in “Brothers” was to make sure he could create a character that was as authentic as possible.

“I was really digging into the subject matter and it affected me personally,” he said. “Going to the Army bases and then meeting with Marines at Camp Pendleton, I wanted to learn the feeling of not being able to relate to civilians and real people. The whole movie was a real exploration of trying to imagine the unimaginable and asking yourself what you would do in different scenarios.”

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Not used to singing in the third person, Bono said that with “Winter,” the nominated song from “Brothers,” he really wanted to deliver a tune that spoke for the men and women who fight for their country and how hard it is for them to readjust to civilian life.

“It feels like it’s the last movie you ever want to watch about war and what war can do to a bright young mind. We have so much respect for the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way and sometimes by circumstances not of their choosing, but in this case that character wants to be there by choice. We wanted to make a song that is unflinching like the men and women that fight who are also unflinching.”

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For “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow, the characters were always the main concern, and anything else was a secondary element.

“I think finally at the end of the day it’s about these human beings and their strength and the bond they create as they try and make it through this hell and insane situation.”

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“Jason’s (Reitman) style comes from integrity, not striking false, notes and being ballsy in his approach to the work,” said nominated thesp Vera Farmiga of her “Up in the Air” helmer. “What I appreciate so much is that he’s a unique voice out there, especially in comedies that can be insipid and stupid.”

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Director Todd Phillips feels like he’s been talking about box office hit “The Hangover” for years now, even if it only bowed in June. But audiences — and the Golden Globes — can’t seem to get enough.

“Lots of comedies have this odd sense of sentimentality to them but the irreverence of our movie connected with people,” said Phillips. “It’s that kind of no-apologies comedy that didn’t wrap up nicely in the end. This movie came together easily. There was never really a struggle with this one.”

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Even amid the glow of her first nomination, “Up in the Air” thesp Anna Kendrick said she was just happy to see the film as a whole come out as winner in the noms, with fellow thesps George Clooney and Vera Farmiga also honored with helmer Jason Reitman.

“I am just thrilled that the film is nominated and Jason is nominated,” Kendrick said. “You don’t get three acting nominations by simple chance and I think that goes back to what Jason and the rest of the people behind the camera did.”

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When it came to her fellow nomi
nees, “An Education” star Carey Mulligan was very glad to see young thesps receiving recognition but also happy that veterans like Meryl Streep are having such a great year as well.

“I did a shoot with a lot of those actresses — it feels like a young gang,” said Mulligan. “It was lovely. And it was nice to see the veterans being recognized as well, like Meryl being a blockbuster.

“It’s exciting to see women like her being the draw and people wanting to go see her. It’s an inspiration to me because I won’t be 24 forever, so it’s nice to know those roles will still be available down the road because of women like her.”

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Thesp Emily Blunt saw her nom for “The Young Victoria” as a great thing not only for her pic but for all indies that bowed this year.

“It is icing on the cake not just for us but for everyone in the indie field,” said Blunt. “It’s hard to get them out there, and they can get overshadowed by some of those bigger films out there. It’s been quite exciting for indie films this year with films like “Brothers” and “Precious” receiving similar recognition. I think any buzz is essential.”

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Playing a character loosely based the Coen brothers’ father in “A Serious Man,” nominated thesp Michael Stuhlbarg felt a bit of an obligation to the brothers to paint a portrait of a man that you felt for but who made you laugh as well.

“The first time I read the script I found it to be so funny because of these life-changing events that were occuring to the character,” said Stuhlbarg. “And I had to remember that it was a comedy first and then a tragedy, and I think by getting a nomination in the comedy category instead of drama helped as well.”

Regarding the pic’s visibility, Stuhlbarg added: “It is such a great thing for the film to get this nomination because of how low-key it has been. And if it gets more people to go see it, I couldn’t be happier.”

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“Glee” star Lea Michele is still trying to grapple with all the attention she and the show have garnered. But both look to increase with Golden Globes noms for the series and the actress.

“I’m in a little bit of shock. I don’t want to believe it,” Michele said. “I met (creator) Ryan Murphy in 2007, and if you told me this would happen in 2009, I would’ve said you’re crazy.

“It’s so heartwarming to hear our show makes people happy. I was at dinner with Ryan the other day and someone came up and said the show brings him so much joy. Those moments are great.”

* * *

Jeff Bridges said it wasn’t hard finding the persona of Bad Blake, the alcoholic country-western singer he portrays in “Crazy Heart.”

“All the way during the shoot I liked the script and the music and had a feeling this could come together,” he said. “There are so many times where a movie can fall apart, but this never did. Then you worry it may not get a distributor, but Fox Searchlight picked it and all of those things fell into place.”

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Producer Scott Rudin had a trio films nominated — “It’s Complicated, “Julie & Julia” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — with the common component of having Meryl Streep in all three.

“She continues to be an astonishing and remarkable actress,” Rudin said. “She’s at the peak of her game right now and continues to get better and better.”

Another common denominator is that each of the three pics was both written and directed by one person: Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron and Wes Anderson, respectively.

“They’re all filmmaker driven and singular in their point of view,” said Rudin of the pic trio.

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For “It’s Complicated” writer-director Nancy Meyers, the real pleasure of the production was watching the pic’s main thesps — Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin — find their characters.

“I think the key is having these three actors of this caliber and kind of talent come together,” said Meyers. “It’s kind of magic for me to watch them onscreen together. They each embraced the part so well and it was wonderful to watch the relationships evolve because each was so different. I was so happy to see this recognition for our film and it’s a great boost since the film hasn’t even opened yet.”

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After the year “Precious” has had, director Lee Daniels says he would have been happy with just its Sundance attention but that he’ll continue to savor all the recognition the film has received.

“This nomination is like icing on the cake,” he said. “But I thought the icing on the cake was that we were in Sundance. Then I thought the icing was that we won Sundance and then Oprah calling was icing on the cake.”

“Right now I’m almost stuffed from all this icing I’ve been putting down.”

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To “Coraline” helmer Henry Selick, its the character herself who makes the film so appealing to voters and auds and helped land the pic an animated feature nom. Selick said Coraline’s dynamic personality made the film more than a typical animated tale.

“She is a character that has to face a very scary and powerful evil and she is just a regular kid,” said Selick. “I think her personality attracted people to her and made them realize that she was a women to be reckoned with.”

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Composer Michael Giacchino said working on Disney/Pixar’s “Up” clicked because of the emotional scope the film was trying to achieve.

“It was nice to do something emotional. To find the drama in an animated film is always a challenge, but a fun one,” said Giacchino after his nomination was announced Tuesday morning. “When it comes to the music, I always try to do something stylistically different. I want to compose like a tailor would fit a suit where people hear and suddenly say, ‘Oh, that’s ‘Up.'”

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Even in the show’s sixth season, “House” exec producer David Shore is happy that the series continues to receive such recognition as Tuesday’s Golden Globes nom.

“It is always nice, but I try very hard to have a level head whenever we get honored,” said Shore. “This season we worked hard to give the show a natural build to where we are and worked hard to keep it fresh and natural.”

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When it came time to find the man to play the role of Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air,” there was no other choice in nominated scribe Sheldon Turner’s mind: George Clooney.

“He is the only person that could play this role,” said Turner. “You cannot hate him. The beauty of George Clooney is that you are willing to go on the journey with him. And of the so many great actors out there, I think he is one of the few that people are always willing to go on that ride with him.”

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For the co-directors of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the formula for the film’s success was in what they personally found funny and hoping everyone else found it funny as well.

“We were trying to make each other laugh more than anything and we were glad that people found what we found funny too,” the duo said in a statement. “We wanted to bring a good cartoony aesthetic to it.”

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“Up” director Pete Docter said he loves how people connected with the emotional aspect of the animated film and how people continue to connect with Pixar films.

“One of my favorite aspects of the film is the emotion impact,” said Docter. “It was very stylized, and hearing how people were getting teared up really hit home for me and the rest of the team.”

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Marc Webb, director of “(500) Days of Summer,” nominated in the comedy or musical film category, said it was the pic’s leads Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel that helped propel it to become a summer hit.

“Joe and Zooe
y have a built-in chemisty and when you see them together, it’s hard not to root for them,” Webb said. “It was a personal movie and that reads through. We took a movie where the stakes were low but it was relatable, and that’s what gave it its juice.”

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Michael Haneke, director of the Germany’s “The White Ribbon,” a nominee in the foreign-language film category, said that although the children depicted in the film would eventually age and become the Nazi generation, he wasn’t trying to make a political statement.

“I don’t have any messages in my films,” Haneke said. “I like the statement from the American director who said, ‘When I have a message, I bring it to the post office.’ To bring human relationships is to predict fate. These kids are malleable and can find any ideology that follows. That’s what gives the film its resonance.”

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Having a background in theater and transitioning into film, “Nine” composer Maury Yeston really saw the advantages of the song “Cinema Italiano” in the film.

“This song needs to be in the movie,” said Yeston, who composed and wrote the lyrics for the tune. “It’s a song about film, about this great wave of Italian cinema, and needs to be about it and be stylish and entertain you. It really gave us the opportunity to entertain the audience.”

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Reflecting on the physical beauty of the film, “A Single Man” composer Abel Korzeniowski wanted that aspect to be conveyed in the music as well.

“I tried to match this visual richness and the music really transitions and changes with the character,” said Korzeniowski. “There are really no embellishments when you hear it playing.”

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The subject matter of Lifetime telepic “Georgia O’Keefe” was close to producers Joshua Maurer and Alixandre Witlin because it allows the younger generation to understand what the iconic painter was all about.

Added Maurer: “She was very modern, bold and brave. There was no model for what she did, and during her life there was a better chance of a woman landing on the moon than being a woman who’s a successful commercial American painter.”

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“Precious” producer Sarah Siegel-Magness said audiences have related to the film not because of the darkness that surrounds its main character but rather what she can accomplish and strives to attain.

“Our country is very open to hopeful stories and this story is about hope,” Siegel-Magness said. “We can relate to those aspects of her and in our own lives. Each one of us sees something in her that we see in ourselves.”

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