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Golden Globes top pick a reflection on our times

BEVERLY HILLS — "Up in the Air" landed at the right time, emerging as a potential Academy Awards favorite with themes of job loss and economic calamity that offer a heartbreaking yet hilarious look at these hard times.

The film grabbed a leading six Golden Globe nominations Tuesday, including best drama, plus directing and screenplay honors for Jason Reitman. George Clooney earned a best dramatic actor slot as a frequent-flyer junkie traveling the country in first-class seats and premium car rentals as he fires the rank-and-file at downsizing companies.

Co-star Anna Kendrick is a supporting-actress nominee as a bright young efficiency expert whose innovations threaten the livelihood of Clooney's character. Kendrick's competition includes "Up in the Air" co-star Vera Farmiga, who earned a supporting-actress honor as Clooney's frequent-flyer dream woman.

Other drama picks were the space fantasy "Avatar," the Iraq War tale "The Hurt Locker," the World War II saga "Inglourious Basterds" and the Harlem teen story "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

The musical "Nine" ran second with five nominations, including best musical or comedy and acting slots for Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard.

Also competing for musical or comedy are the romance "(500) Days of Summer," the bachelor-party bash "The Hangover" and two Meryl Streep films, "It's Complicated" and "Julie & Julia."

Hollywood's second-biggest film honors after the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes sort out the prospects leading up to the Oscar nominations Feb. 2. The 67th annual Globes will be handed out Jan. 17, six days before voting closes for the Oscars.

Three contenders had two Globe nominations each: Streep, competing against herself for musical or comedy actress in the Julia Child tale "Julie & Julia" and the romance "It's Complicated"; Sandra Bullock, nominated as dramatic actress in the football story "The Blind Side" and musical or comedy actress for the romance "The Proposal"; and Matt Damon as musical or comedy actor for the whistleblower satire "The Informant!" and supporting actor for the South African rugby drama "Invictus."

Among television categories, nominations for drama series went to HBO's "Big Love," Showtime's "Dexter," Fox's "House," AMC's "Mad Men" and HBO's "True Blood."

Musical or comedy series slots went to NBC's "30 Rock," HBO's "Entourage," Fox's "Glee," ABC's "Modern Family" and NBC's "The Office."

Fuzzy categories

Although it has plenty of heavy moments, "Up in the Air" generally had been considered a comedy, and distributor Paramount submitted it for the Globes' musical or comedy categories. The movie's serious side clearly resonated with Hollywood Foreign Press Association members who hand out the Globes, since they designated it as a drama.

The notion of what's a comedy or musical and what's a drama often gets fuzzy. Fox Searchlight submitted the country-music tale "Crazy Heart" as a musical because of its wall-to-wall tunes, yet it nabbed Jeff Bridges a nomination for best dramatic actor.

Robert Downey Jr. scored a nomination for musical or comedy actor in the title role of "Sherlock Holmes," which has a lot of humor but is mainly an action thriller.

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