"Babel," which follows four interconnected stories on several different continents, was also nominated for best screenplay, three acting awards in the supporting categories, and best original score. With the surprisingly strong showing, the film that earned generally favorable reviews even as it did fairly tepid box office business finds itself a leading contender this awards season.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. handed out double nominations in the same category for Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio received best actor nominations for best actor in a motion picture drama for his roles as a South African jewel-hunting mercenary in "Blood Diamond" and as an undercover cop infiltrating Boston's Irish mob in "The Departed." Other nominees in that category were Peter O'Toole as an aging actor who falls for a teenager in "Venus," Will Smith as a struggling single dad in "The Pursuit of Happyness" and Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."
Eastwood, a longtime Golden Globe favorite, is vying against himself in the best directory category for his World War II dramas "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima." "Letters," which is largely in Japanese, also received a nomination in the best foreign film category. Other best director nominees were Martin Scorsese for "The Departed" and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Babel" and Stephen Frears for "The Queen," which looks at the crisis in the British monarch after the death of Princess Diana.
Several other performers also receiving multiple nominations:
Singer Beyonce Knowles received a nod for playing best actress in a musical or comedy as a Diana Ross-esque singer in "Dreamgirls," and co-writing the film's best original song nominee, "Listen."
Helen Mirren received best actress nominations for playing the English monarch Elizabeth II in the film "The Queen" and as one of history's most famous rulers in the TV miniseries "Elizabeth I." Mirren scored a third best actress nomination as the tough-minded police inspector in the Masterpiece Theater miniseries, "Prime Suspect: The Final Act."
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Chiwetel Ejiofor received a nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for playing a cross-dressing cabaret performer in "Kinky Boots" and was also nominated for best actor in a TV miniseries or movie for playing a father searching for his child in "Tsunami, the Aftermath."
Annette Bening picked up nominations for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role as an eccentric wife and mother in "Running with Scissors" and for best actress in a minseries or movie as the murderess in "Mrs. Harris."
Emily Blunt was honored with nominations for best supporting actress in "The Devil Wears Prada" as the harried assistant to a fashion magazine editor and as a supporting actress in a series, miniseries or movie for playing the daughter of a British P.R. genius in "Gideon's Daughter."
And Toni Collette was nominated for best actress in a comedy or musical for "Little Miss Sunshine" as the mother of a young beauty pagent contestent and for supporting actress in a series, miniseries or movie for playing a local educator in "Tsunami, the Aftermath."
Best film nominees in the drama category included "Babel," "Bobby," "The Departed," The Queen" and "Little Children," a crisis-in-suburbia drama. Of the five nominees, perhaps the most surprising was "Bobby," Emilio Estevez' drama about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, which received decidedly mixed reviews and was a disappointment at the box office.
As a prognosticator for the Academy Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. -- made up of about 90 journalists from media outlets around the globe -- has a mixed record.
Last year, the group's top acting picks went on to win Oscars, as well as its best director winner. But for the last two years, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards have failed to agree on the best picture winners. In fact, the Oscar-winning best picture of 2005 - "Crash" - only received Globe nominations for supporting actor and screenplay.
Noticeably missing from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s best picture nominees list was "United 93." The drama about the ill-fated Sept. 11 flight hijacked by terrorists had made strong showings this week with recognition from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. for best director and best film of the year from the New York Film Critics Circle.
Other oversights: Actors Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson," Djimon Hounsou in "Blood Diamond," Michael Sheen for "The Queen," actress Abigail Breslin for "Little Miss Sunshine," and director Bill Condon for "Dreamgirls."
Vying for best motion picture comedy or musical are the mockumentary "Borat," the fashionista comedy "The Devil Wears Prada," the musical-drama "Dreamgirls," the acerbic "Little Miss Sunshine," and the satirical "Thank You for Smoking."
Best actress in a drama nominees are Mirren for "The Queen," Penelope Cruz for her role as the mother of a young daughter in "Volver," Judi Dench as a malevolent schoolteacher in "Notes on a Scandal," Maggie Gyllenhaal as a former drug addicted ex-con in "Sherrybaby" and Kate Winslet as a restless young mother in "Little Children."
Best actor in a comedy or musical are Ejiofor for "Kinky Boots," Sacha Baron Cohen for the oversexed TV reporter in "Borat," Johnny Depp as a swaggering brigand in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," Aaron Eckhart as a slick tobacco industry spokesman in "Thank You for Smoking" and Will Ferrell as a man who hears voices in "Stranger Than Fiction."
Best actress in a comedy or musical went to Bening for "Running with Scissors," Collette for "Little Miss Sunshine," Knowles for "Dreamgirls," Meryl Streep as a high strung fashion editor for "The Devil Wears Prada" and Renee Zellweger as the famed children's author in "Miss Potter."
Director Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic tirade didn't appear to hinder his ability to earn a Golden Globe nomination. His film, "Apocalypto," which is in Mayan, earned a nomination for best foreign language film along with "Letters From Iwo Jima," an intimate look at the World War II battle from the Japanese perspective. Other nominees included Germany's "Lives of Others," Mexico's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Spain's "Volver."
"Letters," which has had a strong showing so far this awards season among critics associations, couldn't be nominated in the best picture category because it is in a foreign language.
In the best supporting actor for film category, Ben Affleck was nominated for his role as TV's fated "Superman" in "Hollywoodland." Other nominees in that category were Eddie Murphy as an ill-fated R&B singer in "Dreamgirls," Jack Nicholson as a colorful Irish mobster in "The Departed," Pitt as a husband who desperately attempts to seek help for his wounded wife in "Babel" and Mark Wahlberg as a revenge seeking Boston cop, also in "The Departed."
Vying for best supporting actress in a film are Blunt in "The Devil Wears Prada," Jennifer Hudson as an ousted R&B singer in "Dreamgirls," Cate Blanchett as a straying teacher in "Notes on a Scandal," Rinko Kikuchi as a troubled deaf mute Japanese teen in "Babel," and Adriana Barraza as an illegal immigrant, also from "Babel."
In the animated film category, it's likely to be a showdown between "Cars" and the penguin musical comedy "Happy Feet." The other nominee is "Monster House." So far this award season, "Happy Feet" has been the favorite among critics groups.
On the television side, best TV series drama nominees were "24," "Big Love," "Grey's Anatomy," "Heroes" and "Lost." In the comedy series category, the nominees are "Desperate Housewives," "Entourage," "The Office," "Ugly Betty" and "Weeds."
Nominees for best actor in a dramatic TV series are Patrick Dempsey for "Grey's Anatomy," Michael C. Hall for "Dexter," Hugh Laurie for "House," Bill Paxton for "Big Love" and Kiefer Sutherland for "24." Vying for best actress in a drama series are Patricia Arquette for "Medium," Edie Falco for "The Sopranos," Evangeline Lily for "Lost," Ellen Pompeo for "Grey's Anatomy" and Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer."
The 64th annual Golden Globe award show will be held Monday, Jan. 15. The three-hour ceremony will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and telecast on NBC.