Hollywood spotlight on Golden Globe nominations

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood is set to unveil the Golden Globe nominations Thursday, after dark comedy "Birdman" got an early pre-Oscars boost as Tinseltown's annual awards race gets into high gear.

All eyes will be on the Beverly Hilton hotel at 5:30 am (0130 GMT) Thursday, when the Golden Globe shortlists are announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

The 72nd Golden Globes show will be held on January 11.

"Birdman" - the tale of a washed-up superhero movie star (former "Batman" Michael Keaton) trying to resurrect his career - scored four nominations from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which were announced Wednesday.

Coming-of-age drama "Boyhood," the Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything" and "The Imitation Game," the story of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, each won three SAGs nods.

All four films were nominated for best overall cast, along with quirky comedy "The Grand Budapest Hotel." The SAG nominations are the first major awards announcement of Hollywood's annual race for trophies and glory - a clutch of red-carpet ceremonies that climaxes with the Academy Awards on February 22.

Oscars indicators

The SAG awards - which will be given out in Los Angeles on January 25 - are often an early indication of Oscars hopes, as members of the actors union represent some 20 per cent of the 6,000-odd voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Although more high-profile than the SAGs, the Golden Globes are seen as less of an indicator of Oscars glory, as a relatively small group of non-US journalists chooses the winners, rather than the industry itself.

"Birdman" - which has won rave reviews for Keaton - scored SAG nominations for best actor, best supporting actor and best supporting actress, along with a nod for best ensemble.

The movie also topped nominations for the Independent Spirit awards announced last month with six nods.

Snubs at SAGs

Among those snubbed by SAG voters were Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper," Jessica Chastain in "A Most Violent Year," and the well-reviewed Martin Luther King historical drama "Selma." All of those movies are set for release later this month.

For best actor at the SAGs, Keaton is up against Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything"), and Jake Gyllenhaal for "Nightcrawler." "The Theory of Everything" also scored a best actress nod for Felicity Jones as Hawking's wife Jane in the tale of the groundbreaking physicist's early life and descent into disability with motor neuron disease.

She faces fellow nominees Jennifer Aniston ("Cake"), Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl") and Reese Witherspoon ("Wild").

In the best supporting actor category, "Boyhood" co-star Ethan Hawke is up against veteran Robert Duvall ("The Judge"), Mark Ruffalo ("Foxcatcher"), J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") and Edward Norton ("Birdman").

For best supporting actress, Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") is up against Keira Knightley ("The Imitation Game"), Meryl Streep ("Into the Woods"), Naomi Watts ("St Vincent") and Emma Stone ("Birdman").