For Globes, strategy has starring role

Supporting categories will be a crowded field this year

NEW YORK -- The Golden Globes are getting a lot of support.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has accepted bids from several studios to classify actors in its supporting categories despite comparatively significant screen time.

The HFPA allowed Miramax's push for Philip Seymour Hoffman's complicated cleric Father Flynn in "Doubt" and Dev Patel's soft-spoken Jamal Malik in "Slumdog Millionaire" as supporting roles in the Golden Globes race, nominations for which will be announced Dec. 11.

And after what was said to be heated discussion, they ultimately accepted the Weinstein Co.'s positioning of Kate Winslet's Nazi guard Hanna Schmitz in "The Reader" as a supporting actress, ensuring the star of "Revolutionary Road" will not compete against herself. Ralph Fiennes and David Kross, who play younger and older versions of conflicted lawyer Michael Burk, also were accepted as supporting actors, making the movie a rarity: a non-ensemble film with no lead.

The abundance of borderline cases that went supporting will make a normally sparse field more crowded. Studios often prefer supporting categories because the roomier field could increase nomination chances, but the cases this year could upend the conventional wisdom.

Supporting categories also are more limited because they don't split comedy/musical and drama into two categories, as the lead acting categories do.

At the other end of the spectrum, the HFPA accepted three leads for Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" in Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall and also allowed Michael Sheen as a lead for David Frost in presidential talker "Frost/Nixon."

On the film front, the HFPA allowed Overture's push for "Last Chance Harvey" as a comedy/musical, which will mean that leads Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson will face a less dense field in acting categories. The group also allowed "Cadillac Records" as a comedy/musical.

The HFPA rejected, however, Lionsgate's bid to consider "W." as a comedy/musical, a move that would have put it in a less crowded field. The decision opens up a slot in best motion picture comedy/musical for what's considered an up-for-grabs race.

Another movie, "Slumdog," had been the subject of early rumors as a potential comedy/musical entry, but Fox Searchlight submitted it as a drama, which the HFPA accepted.