Certainties: Les Miserables. The category was invented for movies like this. Also, Moonrise Kingdom has a strong Oscar shot, so it was likely to show up here, too.
Surprises: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The movie earned $9 million in the U.S. and about $34 million globally — not bad, but just a little movie. One of many. It struck some kind of nerve with the HFPA, however. Even if it doesn’t go on to the Oscars, it should lead awards-watchers to seek out its DVD. This is also a helpful nod for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which got a SAG nomination yesterday for best ensemble — squeezing out some formidable rivals, such as Zero Dark Thirty. It may now be a stealth Oscar contender for Best Picture, in one of the strongest years for their field in recent memory.
Snubs: Richard Linklater’s acclaimed dark comedy Bernie, which stars Jack Black in an unbelievable true-life murder story, might have claimed a spot. Or Oscar host Seth MacFarlane’s blockbuster stuffed-bear raunch-fest Ted. Instead, the HFPA went toward more modest, easygoing comedies. (It doesn’t matter too much — Les Miserables, the lone musical in the bunch — is certain to win this race.)
NEXT PAGE — Winners, losers, shocks: Comedy/Musical Actress