Much will be made of this year’s double nominations, rare enough when someone is nominated in multiple categories and downright astonishing when it happens in the same categories, as it did with Leonardo DiCaprio.
There are a number of factors at play in the DiCaprio scenario. “Blood Diamond” opened to some strong criticism and less than sparkling B.O. While everyone admires DiCaprio’s skill in portraying South African gunrunner Danny Archer — right down to pulling off a difficult South African accent — “The Departed” is held in higher regard and has made a late kudos season comeback with critics’ groups after the enthusiasm that surrounded its October release had cooled. DiCaprio also won a Golden Globe two years back for his previous collaboration with “Departed” helmer Martin Scorsese, “The Aviator.”
While both DiCaprio roles are strong enough to be worthy of a nomination on their own, dual noms always raise the possibility that the actor’s support could get split between the two roles, leaving an opening for another nominee to take home the gold.
Peter O’Toole is another HFPA favorite, having won three Globes in the 1960s and been nominated on six other occasions. He’s the kind of star the org loves to honor, and a victory would drive home the point that the Globes have given this legendary actor honors appropriate to his career.
Will Smith is a wild card. His performance in “The Pursuit of Happyness” shows the depth of his acting chops, as he plays a single father who struggles to raise his son as a member of the working poor in early 1980s San Francisco. Smith builds on his previous nom for “Ali,” and two noms on the TV side for “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “Happyness” rolled out with a No. 1, $27 million bow last weekend, which may bode well for Smith’s Globes chances.
“The Last King of Scotland” has stood out based largely — if not entirely — on the performance of Forest Whitaker. His only previous HFPA nom coming 18 years ago for “Bird,” Whitaker is nonetheless regarded as an actor who has honed his craft to an increasingly fine point. His bravura performance as real-life Ugandan leader Idi Amin has kept his head above water in the kudos race, but he faces an uphill battle given the HFPA’s affinity for those with more firepower than Whitaker can muster this year.