BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Transamerica" were among the key contenders going into Monday's Golden Globes, a potential breakthrough night for movies dealing with homosexuality or transsexualism.
"Brokeback Mountain," director Ang Lee's story of two rugged Western family men (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) concealing their homosexual affair, led the field with seven nominations, including best drama. The awards air live at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.
Along with Ledger, "Capote" star Philip Seymour Hoffman was a favorite for the dramatic lead-actor prize for his role as author Truman Capote. Felicity Huffman was a front-runner for best dramatic actress for "Transamerica," in which she plays a man preparing for surgery to become a woman.
Key wins by those films could help position them for major honors at the Academy Awards, which occasionally have handed out top acting prizes for performers in homosexual or gender-bending roles but have never given the best-picture Oscar to a gay-themed film.
Oscar nominations come out Jan. 31, with the awards presented March 5.
Besides "Brokeback Mountain," the Globe nominees for dramatic picture were the murder thriller "The Constant Gardener"; "Good Night, and Good Luck," about Edward R. Murrow's stand against Sen. Joseph McCarthy; the mobster tale "A History of Violence"; and "Match Point," a Woody Allen drama about infidelity.
Competing for best musical or comedy were the London theater tale "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; the Jane Austen adaptation "Pride & Prejudice"; Mel Brooks' farce "The Producers"; "The Squid and the Whale," about a family going through a divorce; and the Johnny Cash biography "Walk the Line."
The Globes are awarded by the relatively small Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has about 80 members, compared with the 5,800 film professionals eligible to vote for the Oscars.
Still, the Globes have an excellent track record at predicting the Oscars. Globe winners catch momentum that can boost their chances come Oscar night.
Two years ago, Globe winners Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Tim Robbins and Renee Zellweger all went on to receive the four acting Oscars. Best picture "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and director Peter Jackson earned their Oscars after winning first at the Globes.
A win at the Globes is no guarantee of Oscar success, though. Last year, the Howard Hughes epic "The Aviator" took the drama prize at the Globes, but the boxing saga "Million Dollar Baby" won the best-picture Oscar.
Globe winners Jamie Foxx of "Ray" and Hilary Swank of "Million Dollar Baby" went on to earn lead-acting Oscars, while supporting players Clive Owen and Natalie Portman of "Closer" won at the Globes but lost at the Oscars to Morgan Freeman of "Million Dollar Baby" and Cate Blanchett of "The Aviator."
Anthony Hopkins, a six-time Golden Globe nominee for such films as "The Silence of the Lambs" and "The Remains of the Day," was to receive the group's Cecil B. DeMille award for career achievement.