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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 17:36 GMT
Global feel to Globe nominations
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

This year's Golden Globe shortlist is one of the more international and outward-looking in the history of these annual awards.

Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in Babel
Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt play American tourists in Babel
Indeed, one could almost suggest the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - the small but influential group of Los Angeles-based journalists working for overseas publications who present the Globes each year - is finally living up to its name.

Does their patronage reflect a fresh impetus in Hollywood to confront issues and cultures beyond America's borders?

If the seven nominations given to pan-global, multi-lingual drama Babel are anything to go by, then yes.

Boasting a multi-ethnic cast featuring actors from Mexico, Morocco, the US and Japan, this complex tale explores the effect that the accidental shooting of an American tourist has on characters in three continents.

Winner of a best director prize at Cannes, the film has been hailed in some quarters as a parable about globalisation.

A key theme in Babel, reflected by its title, is the misunderstandings and suspicions that can arise from linguistic and cultural barriers.

Language, though, has proven no barrier to Golden Globe consideration this year, with two performances in Spanish and one in sign all making the grade.


Nor has it prevented Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima - a film told entirely in Japanese that explores the Second World War battle from the perspective of America's former enemy - landing two nominations.

Given this encouraging development, it is surprising the Globes continue to bar films not in the English language from its best motion picture categories.

This dictate has resulted in two mainstream Hollywood releases by major American directors - Mel Gibson's Apocalypto and Iwo Jima - being confined to the best foreign language film category.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Cohen is up for best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical
With its ribald critique of American life and its satirical sideswipes at its ingrained prejudices, Borat's two nominations can be seen as further evidence of the Globes' more open outlook.

It is worth noting, too, that one of Chiwetel Ejiofor's two acting nominations comes for playing a gay transvestite in British comedy Kinky Boots.

The other comes from Tsunami: The Aftermath - one of three acting nods for the recent TV mini-series about the Asian flood disaster.

What can we draw, though, from the omission of 9/11 dramas United 93 and World Trade Center from the line-up?

Not much perhaps - though it is intriguing that in a year where the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has opened its arms to international talent and material, it has simultaneously overlooked two high-profile films about its most painful national tragedy.

Clips of some of the nominated films

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