Golden Globes Countdown - Drama: Best Picture

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. found enough room for six best picture drama nominees this year, signaling both a depth in the category as well as a continuation of the group’s long-standing fondness for George Clooney.

“The Ides of March,” the political potboiler Clooney directed and co-wrote, joined “The Descendants,” the family drama he headlines as an actor. The other nominees in the final drama circle reflect HFPA voters’ penchant for recognizing pics dabbed with social commentary (“The Help”) and epic stories that spill over into the battlefield (“War Horse”) as well as their continued devotion to movie-star vehicles (“Moneyball”) and anything made by Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”).

If there’s a surprise omission in the category’s list of six, it’s the absence of twice-nominated British director Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 drama, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” which came up empty across the board. The film’s absence is particularly notable since it possesses the star power (Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, albeit in supporting roles) and the kind of high-profile source material that Globe voters typically relish.

Because Daldry didn’t lock the final print until after Thanksgiving, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” screened late in the awards season for the HFPA. But one member who supported it believes it wasn’t the timing that caused it to fall short. The long-standing voter says, “9/11 just doesn’t resonate for some of these journalists, who come from all over the world, in quite the same way it does for Americans.”

That doesn’t mean Globe voters eschew American stories completely. “Moneyball” spotlights the most American of sports, baseball, but it also broadens its story into a hero’s tale of redemption. (The star presence of five-time nominee Pitt certainly aided its cause as well.) “The Help” tackles segregation and civil rights issues in the ’60s-era Deep South, but the courage, friendships and optimism at its center translate beyond the boundaries of place and time.

Meanwhile, both “War Horse” and “Hugo” possess the international flair — casting, locations and, in the case of “Hugo,” a salute to a pioneering French filmmaker — that appeal to HFPA members.

Then again, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” boasts all of those elements, too, not to mention the pedigree of the John le Carre novel and the presence of Swedish helmer Tomas Alfredson, and didn’t receive a single nomination. Terrence Malick’s meditation on family and the Big Questions of human existence, “The Tree of Life,” was also shut out.

Though both “Tinker Tailor” and “Tree” came up empty with SAG voters, too, all is not necessarily lost. Malick’s 1998 war movie, “The Thin Red Line” went on to seven Oscar nominations after being ignored by the Globes.

The future may be more problematic for other titles that had been considered contenders early in the season. The HFPA didn’t go for Clint Eastwood’s G-Man bio-pic, “J. Edgar,” or Roman Polanski’s black comedy “Carnage.” And David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” seems to have brighter prospects in the commercial arena than with awards voters.

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Drama: Best Picture | Comedy: Best Picture | Best Director | Drama Actor/Actress | Comedy Actor/Actress

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