BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Helen Mirren, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood were among the multiple Golden Globe nominees Thursday, while the multinational ensemble drama "Babel" led contenders with seven nominations, including best dramatic picture.
Also nominated for best dramatic picture: the Robert Kennedy story "Bobby," the mob tale "The Departed," the suburban drama "Little Children" and the royalty-in-crisis "The Queen."
A few surprises cropped up among nominees for the 64th annual Globes, Hollywood's second-biggest film honors after the Academy Awards and traditionally a solid forecast for how the Oscars might play out.
Among them: Sacha Baron Cohen's unexpected $100 million hit "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." The satire of American culture was nominated for best musical or comedy film, while Cohen got a bid for best actor in a musical or comedy.
After Mel Gibson's troubles over his drunken-driving arrest and anti-Semitic comments last summer, the filmmaker landed back in awards contention for his bloody Mayan epic "Apocalypto," nominated for best foreign-language flick.
Previously, no actor or director had been nominated twice in the same category in one year. This time, the Globes set up intriguing competitions for actors and filmmakers competing against themselves.
Along with a best-actress film nomination for playing Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen," Mirren was nominated twice as best actress in a TV miniseries or movie for playing the monarch's predecessor and namesake in "Elizabeth I" and for her detective saga "Prime Suspect: The Final Act."
Mirren is considered the favorite to win the best-actress Oscar.
Eastwood is up against himself as best director for his World War II epics "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima," which tell the story of the Pacific island battle from the American and Japanese points of view, respectively.
"Letters From Iwo Jima," told in Japanese, also was nominated for best foreign-language film. Under Globe rules, "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Apocalypto" were eligible only in the foreign-language category, not best picture.
DiCaprio takes on himself in the best dramatic film actor category with nominations for the mob tale "The Departed" and the African adventure "Blood Diamond."
Martin Scorsese, a perpetual runner-up at the Oscars, is back in contention, earning a best-director nomination for the Globes with "The Departed." Scorsese has been nominated five times for best director at the Oscars, losing every time, the last one two years ago to Eastwood, whose "Million Dollar Baby" triumphed over Scorsese's "The Aviator."
Other multiple nominees included Toni Collette for best actress in a movie comedy or musical for the road-trip romp "Little Miss Sunshine" and TV supporting actress for "Tsunami: The Aftermath."
Collette's "Tsunami" co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor also was a double nominee for actor in a movie comedy or musical for the drag-queen tale "Kinky Boots" and best actor in a TV miniseries or movie in "Tsunami."
Academy Awards contenders can solidify their prospects with a win at the Globes. All four winners of the 2005 acting Oscars - Reese Witherspoon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel Weisz and George Clooney - preceded their wins with triumphs at the Globes.
But the Globes failed to predict the best-picture Oscar winner the last two years. "The Aviator" won best drama at the Globes for 2004 while "Million Dollar Baby" took the Oscar, and "Brokeback Mountain" won best drama at the Globes for last year, while "Crash" was the Oscar champ.
"Babel," a story of families around the globe connected by a tragic shooting in the North African desert, also had nominations for performers Brad Pitt, Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and best screenplay and musical score.
"I'm very ecstatic," said Kikuchi, who plays a deaf teen in "Babel." "I've actually been surprised at all the reactions that I'm getting to my performance, and this one was a big surprise as well."
"The Departed" trailed "Babel" with six nominations, including honors for co-stars Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg as supporting film actor.
For the first time, the Golden Globes have an award for best animated feature film, following the lead of the Oscars, which added an animation category in 2001. Globe animated nominees were the talking-automobiles comedy "Cars," the penguin romp "Happy Feet" and the fright flick "Monster House."
"I'm just excited that they deemed there were enough good quality animated films being made these days to have an award like that," said "Cars" director John Lasseter, who pioneered the computer-animated feature business with 1995's "Toy Story." Lasseter's sequel "Toy Story 2" won the best comedy or musical prize at the 1999 Globes.
Joining "Borat" in the best comedy or musical category were the fashion industry satire "The Devil Wears Prada," the Motown musical "Dreamgirls," "Little Miss Sunshine" and the tobacco tale "Thank You for Smoking."
Along with DiCaprio, best dramatic film actor nominees were Peter O'Toole for the would-be romance "Venus," Will Smith in the father-son story "The Pursuit of Happyness" and Forest Whitaker for the Idi Amin saga "The Last King of Scotland."
Joining Mirren for "The Queen" in best dramatic film actress category were Penelope Cruz for the Spanish-language tale "Volver," Judi Dench for the school drama "Notes on a Scandal," Maggie Gyllenhaal for the drug-addiction story "Sherrybaby," and Kate Winslet for "Little Children."
Portraying a suburban wife and mother in an affair with a neighbor, Winslet called this the hardest part she's ever played "because she's emotional in some way in every single scene - not emotional in one way but in four or five ways. She's nothing like me, she lives in a society that's nothing like any environment I've been in before. So there's the sense of transforming myself and also understanding the world she was living in, the loneliness she felt as a woman."
Golden Globe winners will be announced Jan. 15, eight days before Oscar nominations. The Oscars will be presented Feb. 25.
The Globes feature 13 categories for film and 11 for television. Warren Beatty will receive the Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.
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