Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Sarah Jessica Parker and Johnny Depp are among the stars who've notched unexpected Golden Globe nominations. | Warner Bros./New Line/Fox/Columbia
It's almost like the Golden Globes can't surprise us anymore (almost). The awards have become known for making selections that seem zannier and zannier from one year to the next. Who can blame them? As one of the few film awards to split drama and comedy into separate categories, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is left to scrounge up twice the number of nominations as most Hollywood honors. As such, creative selections ensue.
With this year's nominations arriving on Thursday, it's inevitable that at least a few entries will leave us scratching our heads. What fun would it be otherwise? Here are some of the Globes' biggest surprises of the past 20 years.
This campy musical starring Cher and Christina Aguilera is probably the most befuddling nomination of the past decade. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune panned the movie, writing that "the choicest dialogue in 'Burlesque' provokes the sort of laughter that other, intentionally funny films only dream of generating." We can understand the love for Cher's performance of the Diane Warren-written ballad, "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," which took home the Globe for Best Original Song, but only "Sex and the City 2" would have been a more puzzling entry among the Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy finalists in 2011.
Renee Zellweger -- "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" (2004) and "Miss Potter" (2007)
Renee Zellweger is among the stars who seem to have "Golden Globe nomination" imprinted on the contracts they sign before taking on roles. Case in point: "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "Miss Potter," both of which earned reviews that ranged from mixed to abysmal.
The "Edge of Reason" nod seems unavoidable in retrospect. The actress earned glowing praise and an Oscar salute for the first "Bridget Jones" movie, and 2004 found her fresh off the trifecta of "Jones," "Chicago" and "Cold Mountain." While "Miss Potter" fared considerably better with critics, Zellweger's star had begun to ebb, and the only other recognition she garnered for the performance was a Saturn Award nomination.
Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and "The Tourist" (2011)
Our jaws dropped when the much-disparaged "The Tourist" slipped into three high-profile categories in 2011: Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Actress – Musical or Comedy (Angelina Jolie) and Best Actor - Musical or Comedy (Johnny Depp). The movie opened just a few days prior to the nominations, making it ripe for mockery among awards pundits who poked fun at the romantic thriller's selection as one of the best comedy films of the year. Globes host Ricky Gervais famously lampooned the movie during his opening speech, saying, "Everything this year was three-dimensional, except the characters in 'The Tourist.'"
Billy Bob Thornton -- "Bad Santa" (2004)
"Bad Santa" was a surprising runaway success with critics, who called Billy Bob Thornton's performance "beautiful" and "brilliant." Still, raunchy movies aren't usually the stuff awards are made of, and Thornton's nomination was at best a pleasant surprise for fans of "Big Santa."
Kevin Spacey -- "Casino Jack" (2011)
Art Takes Over Films
Remember "Casino Jack"? No? We don't either, but the HFPA did back in 2010, when Kevin Spacey landed a nod for Best Actor - Comedy or Musical. "Jack" is a fictionalized account of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corruption scandal, for which he spent 43 months behind bars. Spacey's performance saw decent reviews, but the movie took in less than $2 million at the box office and the overall film was largely panned. Spacey earned no other nominations for the role.
Sarah Jessica Parker -- "The Family Stone" (2006)
20th Century Fox
"The Family Stone" isn't the worst, and it certainly has its ardent supporters (Roger Ebert and Peter Travers among them). The ensemble dramedy isn't standard awards fare, though, and Sarah Jessica Parker didn't reap any other nominations for the role -- not even at the Satellite Awards, where co-stars Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams made the shortlist in the same category.
Jodie Foster -- "The Brave One" (2008)
Warner Bros. Pictures
The New Republic's Christopher Orr called "The Brave One" one of the year's "stupidest" movies. New York magazine's David Edelstein panned Jodie Foster's "feminist victimization complex." Some adored Foster's performance despite the movie's flaws, and Golden Globe voters are among that crop. Then again, they've always have a thing for Foster. She's nabbed seven nominations, the first for 1977's "Freaky Friday," and in 2013 she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award (you know, that time she gave this wild speech).
"Patch Adams" (1999)
This maudlin malarkey has a dismal 23-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The fact-based "Patch Adams," starring Robin Williams as a doctor who uses laughter as medicine (is that description sentimental enough for you?), earned a Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy nod. Williams also garnered a Globes sendup for the movie because the HFPA adores him (see: his nine nods prior to "Adams" as well as a special award recognizing his voice-over performance in "Aladdin"). Somehow the movie is sentimental enough to qualify as a comedy even if the laughs are lacking.
Jim Carrey -- "The Mask" (1995) and "Liar Liar" (1998)
New Line Cinema
There's something ironic and lovable about movie stars receiving Razzie nominations for the same roles that land them so-called respectable awards. Enter Jim Carrey, who was up for the now-defunct Worst New Star award for the whopper of a trio that included "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber." (Can you believe all three of those were released in the same year?) Carrey grabbed a Globe nomination for "The Mask" the same year he was in the running for Worst New Star. He got another surprising Globe nod in 1998, for "Liar Liar."
Sharon Stone -- "The Muse" (2000)
Sharon Stone earned her fourth Globe nomination for "The Muse," a box-office flop that generated controversy within the HFPA when its members were sent Coach watches as campaign material. It was unclear whether Stone or the studio had sent the luxurious goodies, but HFPA president Helmut Voss instructed the voting body to return the watches, which he said were "way, way, way beyond" the scope of normal campaigning. Either way, it couldn't have hurt -- Stone notched a nomination even though the movie's reception was tepid.
Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo -- "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" (1996)
"To Wong Foo" has a cult following, but a lot of critics weren't friendly when the movie arrived in 1995. Still, you can't help but sort of love Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo (and Wesley Snipes, whose Globe fate wasn't as bright) as drag queens on a road trip. The Globes did, at least.