Aronofsky, Hooper, Russel nominated for first time

Of the five director nominees in this year’s Golden Globe race, three are being feted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for the first time.

David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky and Tom Hooper are Globe newbies. They’ve been shut out by the Oscars as well, but that might change, as the trio continues to receive strong notices for their respective films — “The Fighter,” “Black Swan” and “The King’s Speech.”

David Fincher, director of the Facebook drama “The Social Network,” has been here before, nominated in 2008 for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Christopher Nolan was in the running as a screenwriter for “Memento” in 2001. He’s a double-nominee this year as the writer and director of the sci-fi dream thriller “Inception.”

In the last few weeks, Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper and Nolan all have been recognized with noms and wins by critics groups from Los Angeles to New York as well as the Spirit Awards.

Whether the nominees in the category have been chatted up in other circles or not, Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, believes the HFPA did a great job with their selections.

“This is bulletproof lineup of best director candidates,” he says. “If they had room for another one or two or five, there are all kinds of names we could add. I’d put Lisa Cholodenko (“The Kids Are All Right”) and Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”) in there along with some others, but the five that they have are rock solid.”

Others receiving notice elsewhere but not from the HFPA include Joel and Ethan Coen (in fact, “True Grit” failed to land a single nom), and Debra Granik, who directed the indie fave “Winter’s Bone.”

All five of the Golden Globe finalists also saw their pics picked for best drama, which during the past 10 years has happened only once, in 2008.

This year, the directors of comedies and musicals weren’t as fortunate. Like other groups, the HFPA tends to favor those who oversee dramas more than those who create less serious fare. In the past 10 years, only four directors of a comedy or musical have been nominated for a Golden Globe, the last being Tim Burton in 2007 for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

“People presume that directing comedy is not as much of a challenge as directing a drama. I don’t know what the reason is,” says HFPA president Philip Berk. “You can look at some of the great comedy directors and they never got nominated either, even by the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).”

As far as being a precursor for the Academy Awards, six times in the past decade four of the five Golden Globe-nominated directors in a particular year went on to be nommed for an Oscar. But when it comes to winning during that span, the HFPA and Oscar have matched only five times, most recently when Boyle collected 2008 trophies from both orgs for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

More from Golden Globes Countdown:
Globes receives high star wattage | Globe drama noms an impressive bunch | Comedy-musical noms are an eclectic mix | ‘Big Bang’ lands HFPA love | Wahlberg has fighter’s chance | Three directors make Globes debut

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