If any studio needed an awards season win this year, it was Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures.
Despite vast resources, the West Hollywood film production and distribution company has weathered internal shake-ups and belt-tightening and has offloaded movies amid a string of costly box office flops.
But the 7-year-old mini studio got a serious confidence boost Thursday when it scored 10 Golden Globe nominations for ambitious movies including the Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" and Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin adaptation "If Beale Street Could Talk."
Annapurna tied with awards season stalwart Fox Searchlight Pictures for the most nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which bestows the Golden Globes. The 21st Century Fox Inc.-owned Searchlight garnered plaudits for movies such as Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite" and Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs."
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Run by Ellison – daughter of Oracle Corp.'s billionaire founder Larry Ellison – Annapurna has previously been an awards season contender with such films as "American Hustle," "Her" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Thursday's news could hardly have come at a better time for Annapurna, which has been struggling financially while trying to establish itself as an indie film powerhouse. Award nominations can attract bigger audiences to the honored movies and help studios attract major filmmakers.
Ellison has made a name for herself in Hollywood as a patron of artsy, often social justice-themed projects such as this year's "Sorry to Bother You." But those bets often have not paid off financially. The studio's box office disappointments have included "Detroit" and "The Sisters Brothers."
In recent months, the company has responded by adopting more financial discipline by curbing its lavish spending on less-commercial fare, according to people familiar with the matter. Rumors arose that Larry Ellison – an advisor to the studio – stepped in to take a more active role to stop the bleeding, but Annapurna denied that.
In October, Annapurna suddenly pulled the plug on its drama about the downfall of late Fox News chief Roger Ailes and the sexual harassment scandal that ended his career. Lionsgate and Bron Studios revived the movie.
Still, Annapurna's Golden Globes tally is an undeniable success.
"We could not be more thrilled for our films, filmmakers and talent being acknowledged by the 1/8Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.3/8 for their incredible work," Megan Ellison said in an emailed statement. "These nominations are a tremendous honor and a testament to the HFPA's support of mavericks and trailblazers who take chances and never stray from their bold visions."
"Vice," starring Christian Bale as the powerful Republican Vice President Cheney, scored six Golden Globe nominations, the most of any movie, in categories including best motion picture comedy or musical, director (Adam McKay) and lead actor (Bale). It was also nominated for supporting actor (Sam Rockwell), supporting actress (Amy Adams) and screenplay (McKay).
"It Beale Street Could Talk," the latest emotional tale from "Moonlight" director Jenkins, earned three nominations: for best drama, supporting actress (Regina King) and screenplay (Jenkins). Annapurna also notched a best actress nomination for Nicole Kidman in the drama "Destroyer."
Last year, Fox Searchlight led with 15 nominations. This year, its "The Favourite" was nominated for five awards: best musical or comedy, lead actress in a musical or comedy (Olivia Colman), supporting actresses (Emma Stone and Rechel Weisz) and screenplay (Deborah Davis and Tomy McNamara). The stop-motion animated "Isle of Dogs" got nods for original score (Alexandre Desplat) and best animated picture. "Can You Ever Forgive Me," starring Melissa McCarthy, earned two nominations.
Walt Disney Studios also had a big year, coming in close behind Annapurna and Fox Searchlight, with nine nominations for its films, including "Black Panther," "The Incredibles 2," "Ralph Breaks the Internet" and "Mary Poppins Returns." As expected, the Marvel Studios superhero blockbuster "Black Panther" secured its place in the best dramatic film category, while "Mary Poppins Returns" was selected for the best musical or comedy category.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures, both owned by Comcast Corp., also did well. Specialty distributor Focus secured seven nominations for its movies, including Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," while Universal also pulled out seven nods for movies such as "Green Book."
Warner Bros. notched seven nominations for movies including "A Star Is Born" and "Crazy Rich Asians." Meanwhile, Netflix earned five nods for its films, led by Alfonso Cuaron's Spanish-language drama "Roma."
In television, cable network FX had a slight edge on digital streaming services that have been gathering steam with prestigious series.
FX Networks led the pack with 10 spots for its shows, including the spy drama "The Americans" and the limited series "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story." HBO and Amazon Prime Video tied for second place with nine each. HBO's honored titles included "Barry" and "Sharp Objects," while Amazon Prime Video's included "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Homecoming." Netflix came in fourth place with eight TV nominations.