Picture, Drama

The nominations

Brokeback Mountain

How it got there: The leading film contender with seven noms, a critical darling and, most important, despite its “gay cowboy movie” tag, the kind of universal story of love gained and lost that appeals strongly to both younger and older elements of the HFPA. “It has a great shot of winning. They responded to the love story, as it was delicately and tastefully done, and you have a lot of female members in particular who really liked the film very much,” says one veteran awards consultant.

The Constant Gardener

How it got there: Despite its August release, HFPA members made it clear they liked this John le Carre adaptation about an unassuming, low-level Brit diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) drawn into investigating the death of his activist wife (Rachel Weisz). “This movie was beautifully shot, directed and acted. I found it hard to get out of my head days after I saw it,” says one member of the foreign press.

Good Night, and Good Luck

How it got there: In addition to being a critical triumph for director, co-writer and co-star George Clooney, this particular story about legendary CBS anchorman Edward R. Murrow and his battles with Sen. Joseph McCarthy hit very close to home, particularly for older journalists who remember the era vividly. “The press likes this film because it’s really about them. They identify with it because a lot of what it says still goes on today. The movie has a powerful message,” says one HFPA insider.

A History of Violence

How it got there: This wild card is an unexpected nomination in the top picture category — especially since it didn’t show up in either writing or directing. As the only nominee in this category without a matching helming nod, it will be an uphill climb to land in the winner’s circle. Still, those who voted for it are very enthusiastic about this story of a man leading a quiet life who suddenly must confront his own violent past. “They were actually split on this,” says a consultant. “But the more sophisticated members really liked it. There are powerful voices within the HFPA that really were passionate about it.”

Match Point

How it got there: In the past, Woody Allen dramas such as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Interiors” have done just as well as his comedies in gathering Globe nods, although the only Allen picture victory in either category came with a comedy win in 1987 for “Hannah and Her Sisters.” So it should come as no surprise that his latest, the acclaimed “Match Point,” has given the filmmaking veteran his first serious recognition from the HFPA in nearly 20 years. According to one member who chatted up Allen at the film’s L.A. preem, “This was such an unexpected movie from Woody, so different, I couldn’t believe it was made by him.”