Three films are now a safe lock for Academy Award nominations

Although the Golden Globes have become less about predicting the Oscars and more about bringing star power to the ceremony, Thursday’s nominations confirm what critics groups have been honoring for months, with “The Artist,” “The Descendants” and “The Help” remaining at the top of the list of contenders.

In fact, the choices of critics groups and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. are often divergent from what the Academy nominates, but in a year with few sure things, it’s impossible to avoid drawing Oscar conclusions. All three films seem like locks for best picture nominations on Jan. 24

Several films that have been a part of the conversation for months received multiple noms, including “Midnight in Paris” and “Hugo,” while others, like “Moneyball,” “My Week With Marilyn,” “Shame,” “50/50″ and “The Ides of March,” raised their awards profile at a crucial time. And “We Need to Talk About Kevin’s” Tilda Swinton, who lost out at the Spirit Awards because of the film’s European pedigree, continue on the streak SAG started Wednesday with a Globe nom.

Even so, there’s no way Globes winners can influence Oscar balloting, as nomination ballots for the Academy Awards are due back to AMPAS on Jan. 13 — the day before the Golden Globes ceremony.

David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” on which awards pundits were split when it screened late in the game this season, earned noms for lead actress Rooney Mara and the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

In a Globes benchmark, Graham King has nominations for three films: the live-action “Hugo,” the animated “Rango” and the foreign-language “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”

It’s a bit of a shocker that the HFPA didn’t choose the other film King produced this year, the Johnny Depp-starrer “The Rum Diary,” given the org’s predeliction for critically panned but starry fare like last year’s Globe-nominated “The Tourist.” There are no such out-of-left-field choices for this year, but a few off-the-radar pictures made surprise appearances on the Globes list.

Brendan Gleeson earned his third Globe nom for “The Guard,” a film that hasn’t been on awards prediction lists. Madonna’s “W.E.,” which was re-edited after its premiere in Venice and hasn’t been getting a strong Oscar buzz, earned song and score noms. Roman Polanski’s “Carnage,” whose ensemble cast were all submitted in the supporting category, earned acting noms for Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.

A trio of high-profile films didn’t make the list, though their absence doesn’t necessarily predict a similar outcome for the Oscars. The Globes categories don’t include crafts, which is probably why Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” which has been receiving kudos for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki from critics groups, didn’t earn a single nom. The 9/11-themed drama “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” for which supporting actor Max Von Sydow had been mentioned, didn’t get recognized. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” was another shut-out, even for its star Gary Oldman.

Last year, four films earned best picture nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards without having received a drama or comedy pic nom from the Globes; the most notable was the Coen brothers’ “True Grit,” which was ignored by the Globes but went on to earn 10 Oscar noms, including picture and director.

Spirit Award nominees “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Like Crazy,” which have been festival favorites and garnered kudos for their female leads, also weren’t tapped by the HFPA.

Among film distribs, The Weinstein Co. and Columbia each got 12 (including “Tintin,” shared with Paramount), and Sony Pictures Classics got 10, with the combo marking Sony as the theatrical leader.

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