At one point, it seemed poised to go straight to DVD after its original studio, Warner Independent, was shuttered as part of a consolidation. But after glowing responses at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, the film found a new home at Fox Searchlight and has become one of the darlings of the awards season.
It was also a good morning for Miley Cyrus and Brangelina. Cyrus, the 16-year-old recording phenom, earned a Golden Globe nomination for best original song for "I Thought I Lost You" from "Bolt," which also received a nomination for best animated feature. Cyrus penned the music and lyrics with Jeffrey Steele and is the voice for the character Penny in the hit Disney film.
Angelina Jolie was nominated for a Golden Globe on Thursday for best actress in a drama for her role as a devoted mother trying to find her missing son in "Changeling." Meanwhile, her significant other, Brad Pitt, was nominated in the category of best actor in a drama for his portrayal of a man who grows younger as he ages in the fable, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
"Benjamin Button," which opens Christmas Day, also received nominations for best film drama, best director for David Fincher, best screenplay for Eric Roth, and best score for Alexandre Desplat.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. also nominated for best dramatic picture "Frost/Nixon," which looks at the 1977 interviews between British journalist David Frost and former President Richard M. Nixon; "The Reader," an erotic love story set in post-World War II Germany; "Revolutionary Road," a harrowing account of a young married couple trying to change their lives in 1955.
There were some surprises that got laughs from the audience at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the wee hours Thursday morning. James Franco, who has received rave reviews for his dramatic role in "Milk," was snubbed for that film - but received a nomination for best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical, as a sweet pothead in "Pineapple Express."
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Also getting giggles was Tom Cruise's nomination for best supporting actor as a foul-mouthed movie producer in "Tropic Thunder." He's competing in that category with fellow cast member Robert Downey Jr., who plays a movie star who takes method acting to an extreme.
On a more serious note, "Milk," Gus Van Sant's drama about slain gay activist Harvey Milk, was overlooked for best film, though Sean Penn, who plays the lead, was nominated in the category of best dramatic actor.
Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Batman adventure, "The Dark Knight," turned out to be one of the biggest box-office hits of the decade but only received a Globe nomination for the late Heath Ledger's seminal performance as the Joker.
Foreign press favorite Clint Eastwood was overlooked for best actor for "Gran Torino" but earned two nominations: as a composer for co-writing the best song "Gran Torino" from the movie and for scoring "Changling." He also directed both films. (An earlier version of this story said Eastwood only earned one nomination.)
Joining Pitt and Penn in the best actor in a motion picture, drama, category are Leonardo DiCaprio for "Revolutionary Road," as a young man yearning to change his life; Frank Langella as the former president in "Frost/Nixon"; and Mickey Rourke as an aging competitor in "The Wrestler."
Competing with Jolie for best performance by an actress in a motion picture, drama, are Anne Hathaway as a troubled addict in "Rachel Getting Married," Meryl Streep as a stern nun in "Doubt," Kristin Scott Thomas as an ex-con in "I've Loved You So Long," and Kate Winslet as a depressed young married woman in "Revolutionary Road."
Streep also was nominated for best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical, for her singing role in "Mamma Mia!" and Winslet earned a nomination for supporting actress as a former Nazi prison guard in "The Reader."
Best director nominations also went to Stephen Daldry for "The Reader," Ron Howard for "Frost/Nixon" and Sam Mendes for "Revolutionary Road." Best motion picture, comedy or musical, nominations went to the Coen brothers' dark comedy, "Burn After Reading"; Mike Leigh's comedy about an optimistic young woman, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; "In Bruges," a grisly comedy about two hapless hitmen; the musical based on the music of Abba, "Mamma Mia!"; and Woody Allen's romantic farce, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
The Allen comedy also scored nominations for best performance by an actress and an actor in a comedy or musical for Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem and supporting actress for Penelope Cruz. "In Bruges" also earned nominations for Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for best performance by an actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical.
Other best original score nominees, besides "Button," were "Changeling," "Defiance," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Frost/Nixon." For screenplay, in addition to "Button," there were also nominations for "The Reader," "Frost/Nixon" and "Doubt."
"Bolt," "Kung-Fu Panda" and "Wall-E" are the best animated feature nominees.
There were several familiar faces in the television nominations for the 66th annual Golden Globe Awards: Besides seemingly perennial nominee Tony Shalhoub, the star of "Monk," the list also included such stalwarts as Sally Field, Mariska Hargitay, Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell.
Nominations for best actress in a drama series on TV went to Field for "Brothers & Sisters," Hargitay for "Law & Order: SVU," January Jones for "Mad Men," Anna Paquin for "True Blood" and Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer." The nominees for best actor in a TV comedy series are: Baldwin for "30 Rock," Carell for "The Office," Kevin Connolly for "Entourage," David Duchovny for "Californication," and Shalhoub for "Monk."
Earning nominations for best television series, drama, were "Dexter," "House," "In Treatment," "Mad Men" and "True Blood." Nominations for best television series, comedy or musical, went to "30 Rock," "Californication," "Entourage," "The Office" and "Weeds."
Nominees for best actor in a TV series, drama, are Gabriel Byrne for "In Treatment," Michael C. Hall for "Dexter," Jon Hamm for "Mad Men," Hugh Laurie for "House," and Jonathan Rhys Meyers for "The Tudors."
Competing for best performance by an actress in a TV series, comedy or musical, are Christina Applegate for "Samantha Who?" America Ferrera for "Ugly Betty," Tina Fey for "30 Rock," Debra Messing for "The Starter Wife" and Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds."
This year's big Emmy winner, the miniseries "John Adams," also earned several Golden Globe nominations, including best miniseries or motion picture made for television, best performance by an actress for Laura Linney, best performance by an actor for Paul Giamatti, and best supporting actor for Tom Wilkinson.
The Globes are considered a harbinger of things to come later in the awards season, and several of last year's Golden Globe winners went on to receive an Academy Award, including best actor in a drama for Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), best actress in a comedy or drama for Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") and supporting actor for Javier Bardem (" No Country for Old Men").
But there are also exceptions: The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. gave "Atonement" the award for best dramatic picture of the year, but the Oscar went to "No Country for Old Men."
Last January, the Writers Guild of America strike caused actors, writers and directors to boycott the Golden Globes ceremony. What viewers were left with was a telecast of TV reporters announcing the winners. Though the Screen Actors Guild is threatening to go out on strike, the guild won't be tabulating votes until Jan. 23.
So the show will go on as planned Jan. 11 from the Beverly Hilton. The three-hour, star-studded gala will be telecast on NBC.