The Oscar race has begun!

‘Chicago’ Dazzles, ‘Hours’ Strikes at Globes
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) – Movie musical “Chicago” put some early razzle dazzle in Hollywood’s award season on Thursday, earning eight Golden Globe nominations including best musical, followed by somber drama “The Hours” with seven.
With show-stopping tunes like “All That Jazz,” the Broadway musical-turned-movie earned nominations for Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the best actress in a musical or comedy group and Richard Gere as best actor in a musical or comedy.
Director Rob Marshall, screenwriter Bill Condon, supporting actor John C. Reilly and supporting actress Queen Latifah, all scored nominations in their respective categories, too.
While 2001’s acclaimed art house musical “Moulin Rouge” paved the way for “Chicago,” executive producer Craig Zadan said “Chicago” has what “Rouge” lacked — mainstream appeal.
“This show is different. It is the return of the American musical to the cinema, and it reinvents the form,” he said.
The Golden Globe nominations, which are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, mark the U.S. film industry’s first major showcase leading up to the Oscars, and a nomination puts a movie on center stage during Awards season.
Like “Chicago,” “The Hours” strikes out on a bold path for moviemaking in the drama category with its three-pronged story of women dealing with issues of life and death.
Nicole Kidman portrays writer Virginia Woolf, and Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore portray a modern woman and 1950s housewife, respectively, who all relate to the Mrs. Dalloway character created by Woolf.
“These are all three actresses who are absolutely at the top of their game,” said director Stephen Daldry.
It earned nominations for best dramatic film, best actress in a drama for both Kidman and Streep — Moore was nominated in the same category for her “Far From Heaven” — best screenplay for David Hare and best director for Daldry.
“Adaptation” won six nominations to put it third on the list of most nominated films, including one for best comedy or musical and for Nicolas Cage as best actor in a comedy or musical.
It tells of a screenwriter struggling to adapt a novel into a film and comes from the same filmmakers as 1999’s “Being John Malkovich,” writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze.
Joining “Chicago” and “Adaptation on the list of nominated musicals and comedies was the coming-of-age comedy “About A Boy” with Hugh Grant, “Nicholas Nickleby” and the smash hit independent film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
“Every day I wake up and think this can’t be happening, then I pinch myself, and I’m like ‘Oh, yeah!’,” said its star and writer/creator Nia Vardalos.
Also with “The Hours” in the best dramatic film category were “About Schmidt,” which earned Jack Nicholson a nomination for best dramatic actor, Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” Holocaust drama “The Pianist” from director Roman Polanski and the action picture “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”
“About Schmidt,” in which Nicholson plays a 66 year-old retiree contemplating his life and his future, and “Gangs,” about the gang wars in Civil War-era New York, each earned five nominations to round out the five most-nominated movies.
Scorsese called the movie among the most difficult he’s made, but said it was also among the most rewarding. He said he had been awake and working until 3:30 a.m. this morning, then got a call telling him of the nominations just after 5:30 a.m.
“I went comfortably back to sleep,” he joked.
Two big surprises were the lack of any nominations for Denzel Washington’s first directorial effort, the drama “Antwone Fisher,” which has been a critics’ favorite so far.
Also, “Far From Heaven” failed to be nominated in the best dramatic film category, although it did pick up the nominations for Moore and three others including for Dennis Quaid as best supporting actor and for Todd Haynes with best screenplay.
Rounding out nominees for best dramatic actress were Diane Lane in “Unfaithful,” about a woman’s extra-marital affair, and Salma Hayek in “Frida,” about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Lane’s performance has been hailed as one of the best of the year, but because the movie was released in the summer its chances in awards season were diminished. Generally, Hollywood waits until this time of year to release its award titles.
“It doubles my reward, seeing as how the film was not a year-end a release,” said Lane.
In the category for best dramatic actor, Nicholson faces stiff competition from Daniel Day-Lewis for “Gangs of New York,” Michael Caine for “The Quiet American,” Adrien Brody in “The Pianist” and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can.”
Brody said the nomination “was a nice way to wake up in the morning. I set my alarm for a normal hour hoping I would be awaken at 5:30 a.m. and I was.”
Joining Zellweger and Zeta-Jones in the category for best actress in a musical or comedy were Goldie Hawn in “The Banger Sisters,” Vardalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal for “Secretary.”
Among the other surprises was Kieran Culkin’s nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for “Igby Goes Down.” Joining him, Cage and Gere in that grouping were Hugh Grant for “About a Boy,” Adam Sandler for “Punch-Drunk Love”
Along with Jonze, Daldry and Marshall, director nominees were Scorsese and Alexander Payne for “About Schmidt.”
While Quaid and Reilly top the best supporting actor category, they, too, will face stiff competition from Ed Harris in “The Hours,” Chris Cooper for “Adaptation,” and movie legend Paul Newman for “Road to Perdition.”
Supporting actress nominees were Kathy Bates for “About Schmidt,” Cameron Diaz for “Gangs,” Queen Latifah in “Chicago,” Susan Sarandon in “Igby Goes Down” and Meryl Streep earned a second nomination for “Adaptation.”
Foreign language film nominees were Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her,” French film “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress,” Mexico’s controversial “The Crime of Father Amaro,” China’s “Hero,” and Germany’s “Nowhere in Africa.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association also names winners in TV categories, but the film categories are the most widely watched leading up to the Oscars. The Golden Globe ceremony will be televised from Beverly Hills on January 19.