Geoffrey Macnab: A small band of film critics and their curious choices

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The Independent Online

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has always been an eccentric organisation. How, you wonder, can the small troop of foreign critics based in LA have overlooked the claims of Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winner, The Tree Of Life? Why is The Ides Of March – such a middling thriller – being so feted? How did Angelina Jolie suddenly appear from left field to secure a Foreign Language nomination for her Bosnian-set directorial debut In The Land Of Blood And Honey? (It has not been widely seen or reviewed.)

A problem with The Golden Globes is its perverse decision to have separate awards for Best Drama and Best Comedy Or Musical. This means that Michel Hazanavicius's wonderful silent era homage The Artist (in the lead with six nominations) can't simply win a Best Picture prize. If it does win – as many are predicting – its triumph will be diluted by the fact that another film will have won the Best Drama award. It's also hard to fathom why Alexander Payne's (often very funny) The Descendants is categorised as "drama" while the (often dark) My Week With Marilyn is in the Comedy Or Musical category.

To their credit, the HFPA critics have recognized Michael Fassbender for his searing performance as the sex addict in Steve McQueen's Shame. They have also had the independence of mind to give a nod to Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In, despite the film being passed over as Spain's Oscar contender.

Hopefully, Glenn Close's nomination for her extraordinary turn as the sad waiter/butler who's a woman in disguise in Albert Nobbs will persuade a British distributor to buy the film.

As the awards season gets under way, The Artist and The Descendants are front-runners, but don't expect to see the other films anointed by the Golden Globes nominated for Oscars.