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5 things we learned from the Golden Globe nominations

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By Todd Leopold

(CNN) -- Lots of love for "12 Years a Slave." A big push for "American Hustle." Nothing for "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the little group (about 100 members) with the outsized influence, presented the nominations for the 71st Annual Golden Globes on Thursday morning, and some trends quickly became obvious.

Given that the Globes are often used as tea leaf samples with which to forecast the Big Daddy of awards shows -- the Oscars -- what do they indicate?

1) "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" are the front-runners.

"Slave," the Steve McQueen film about a free man taken into slavery in 19th-century America, dominated the proceedings among dramatic films. (The Globes spread the wealth by having categories for both film dramas and film comedies, and do the same for television shows.) It received seven nominations, including nods for best drama, best director, best actor in a drama (Chiwetel Ejiofor), best supporting actor (Michael Fassbender) and best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong'o).

"Hustle" matched that number, earning nominations for best comedy or musical, best director (David O. Russell), best actor in a comedy/musical (Christian Bale), best actress in a comedy/musical (Amy Adams), best supporting actor (Bradley Cooper) and best supporting actress (Jennifer Lawrence). Expect a lot of the same when the Oscar nominations are announced January 16.

2) You call these comedies?

Of the five films nominated for best comedy or musical, none is an out-and-out laugh riot. In fact, a couple are as dark as they come -- and probably richer than the nominated dramas. "Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen brothers film about a struggling folksinger in early-'60s New York, features an unpleasant lead character who mooches off some friends and alienates others. "Nebraska," directed by Alexander Payne ("Sideways"), stars Bruce Dern as a curmudgeonly old man convinced he's won a big cash prize; like all of Payne's films, it has plenty of bitter with the sweet. "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a three-hour Martin Scorsese film about a crooked financial trader on a headlong rush to trouble. There's no "Bridesmaids"-like film in the bunch -- nor, for that matter, a "Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

3) "The Butler" got shown the door.

In the Screen Actors Guild nominations, announced Wednesday, "Lee Daniels' The Butler" did surprisingly well, earning nominations for ensemble (the equivalent of best film) and performers Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. None of them was nominated for a Globe -- and this despite the fact that the Globes often appear to hand out nominations based as much on star power as quality. Sorry, Oprah: You'll have to be invited like any other guest.

Also getting short shrift from the Hollywood Foreign Press: Scorsese, who missed out on a directing nod; "August: Osage County," which picked up two acting nominations but nothing for film, director or screenplay; and Woody Allen, though two of his "Blue Jasmine" stars got nominated. Not that Woody would have shown -- the awards-show curmudgeon, who never goes to the Oscars either, will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the HFPA, but Diane Keaton is scheduled to accept on his behalf.

4) No SAG Award nomination? No problem!

OK, so "The Butler" got stiffed by the Globes. Not so for "Rush," which earned a nomination not only for Daniel Bruhl -- who did get a SAG nod -- but also for the film itself. And how about Kate Winslet? There's been little chatter about Jason Retman's "Labor Day," but she earned a best actress (drama) nomination.

Robert Redford also got tabbed. The venerable 77-year-old actor, who's a one-man show in "All Is Lost," picked up a best actor nomination. His snub by the SAGs may have been Wednesday's biggest surprise.

5) Watch out for "Gravity."

Alfonso Cuaron's film has a spare screenplay and a small cast. Indeed, its lack of a true ensemble could have possibly hurt it with the SAGs. But Sandra Bullock got an acting nod (as she did from the SAGs), and the film also earned Globe nominations for drama, director Cuaron and its score. Oscarologists still consider it a front-runner for best picture, and the Globes did nothing to dispel that belief.

Incidentally, for all the attention paid to the Globes, their real attraction is as a raucous, celebrity-studded party. The liquor flows freely and there's generally a loose, devil-may-care vibe from the winners. (No surprise -- this is the award that once gave Pia Zadora a "new star of the year" honor for the immortal film "Butterfly.")

The hosts, once again, will be Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, so expect a good time -- and terrible singing.

The Golden Globes will be broadcast on Sunday, January 12. The program will air on NBC.

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