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No laughing matter

Comedy-musical nominees are big-league contenders

Enough already with the jokes: The Golden Globes comedy/musical category just isn’t the punchline many people have tagged it.

True, it’s a grouping that, over time, has allowed movies like “The Longest Yard,” “Green Card” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” to be given a trophy.

But the majority of winners have been bona fide contenders in other year-end derbies, whether with noms or actual hardware. The long list includes “Babe,” “As Good as It Gets,” “Working Girl,” “Tootsie,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Moulin Rouge.”

And last year, the tide shifted all the way when “Chicago” won in the comedy/musical category and also took home six Oscars, including best picture.

This year’s noms might also provide a peek at some future upsets, and, at the very least, some very good movies.

Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola’s look at unusual friendship in unusual places has made the rare leap from indie darling to mainstream fave.

What “Rushmore” didn’t accomplish for Bill Murray, Coppola’s little hit sure has, and Scarlett Johansson proved, as she did with the year’s more somber “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” that she is a versatile actress way beyond her years.

With five noms and the only comedy pic that branched out into acting categories, the Focus release brings respect to the category this year and caused some to wonder if it should have been placed in the drama category in the first place.

Finding Nemo

What began as a best pic shoo-in has become an ongoing discussion point: Do animated films belong anywhere near “real” movies come awards time.

Considering the Disney/Pixar pic’s terrific screenplay, the answer is obvious. “Nemo” was, many contend, the best movie of the year for most of the year, using perfected CGI, brilliant colors, hilarious voices and nuanced dialogue to craft an underwater delight.

On the plus side is this: There’s nobody alive who doesn’t think “Nemo” is a worthwhile contender; a Golden nod to the film could change the way future awards position the animation category.

On the down side: Stubbornness. “Lion King” won in 1995, and that may be the last time voters compare apples to apples.

Love Actually

Maybe it’s the accents, but fans just love the Brit romantic comedies from Working Title. “Four Weddings and a Funeral” scored four Globes noms in 1995, and “Notting Hill” scored three nominations in 2000.

So it could very well be this Hugh Grant pic that finally takes home hardware for what many consider to be the most heartfelt, breezy pic of the year.

Richard Curtis’ screenplay also got a nomination and, besides “Seabiscuit,” which scored a best pic nomination in the drama category, the film is Universal’s big awards push this season.

But going against it is the tone. Voters may feel that the story, certainly wrapped in attractive foil, is a little too cutesy for “serious contender” status, and its positioning as holiday fare may hurt more than help.

Bend it Like Beckham

A pic that fell off the radar as the awards engine kicked into high gear, Fox Searchlight’s “Bend It Like Beckham” is a lot of things — coming-of-age story, empowerment tale, girl power — and it’s also a fan favorite that has “Rocky”-like appeal mixed with a fish-out-of-water storyline.

Soccer pic has grossed $32 million domestically, and could pick up some support from those who saw this Gurinder Chadha-directed movie as something that doesn’t deserve to get lost in the shuffle.

A minus is the sports aspect. Besides “Chariots of Fire” (1981) and “Rocky” back in 1976, the sporting life just doesn’t find much love come awards time.

Big Fish

Tim Burton’s creative portrait of a father-son relationship has a lot of elements that sound like award winners.

Special effects, touching moments of father-son relationships, a thesp (Albert Finney) people love to root for come awards time, and a director (Tim Burton) many have admired for years.

Hurting its chances are its omission from the year-end lists made so far. Neither the National Board of Review nor AFI have placed it in their top pics, and many think that this selection should consider the old adage: It’s an honor just to be nominated.

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