The power of 'Babel'

Globes' top film nominee; 2 for Eastwood, DiCaprio

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. doubled down on Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio on Thursday as it announced nominations for the 64th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton.

With seven nominations, "Babel" was the most-nominated film, followed by "The Departed" with six and "Dreamgirls" with five. In the television categories, the drama "Grey's Anatomy" and the comedy "Weeds" were the most-nominated series, with four each.

Eastwood received two nominations in the same category, picking up noms as best director for his bookend films "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." DiCaprio also scored twice in one category, dominating the list for best dramatic actor with noms for his work as a Boston undercover cop in "Departed" and as a South African mercenary in "Blood Diamond."

Helen Mirren did them one better. Not only did she receive two nominations in the category of best performance by an actress in a miniseries ? for "Elizabeth I" and "Prime Suspect: The Final Act" ? but she was gifted with a third nom, as best motion picture actress for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."

For all their love of Eastwood, though, the 83 voting members of the HFPA did not nominate "Flags" as best drama. They spread their noms among "Babel," "Bobby," "Departed," "Little Children" and "Queen."

For best motion picture comedy or musical, the noms went to "Borat," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Thank You for Smoking."

Joining Eastwood as best director nominees are Stephen Frears for "Queen," Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Babel" and Martin Scorsese for "Departed." Despite its five nominations, "Dreamgirls" failed to earn a nomination for its director, Bill Condon, who may have been edged aside by the dual Eastwood noms.

As if offering an antidote to "Babel," a globe-trotting tale of cultural misunderstandings, the nominations themselves took on a multicultural hue. "Babel" supporting actresses Adriana Barraza, who hails from Mexico, and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi were invited to the Globes' annual party, to be held Jan. 15 at the Beverly Hilton and broadcast live by NBC. London-born comedian Sacha Baron Cohen crashed the best actor in a comedy lineup with his alter ego, Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev. And the circle of nominated composers read like a survey of world music with the French-born Alexandre Desplat ("The Painted Veil"), British-born Clint Mansell ("The Fountain"), Argentinean Gustavo Santaolalla ("Babel"), Italian Carlo Siliotto ("Nomad") and German-born Hans Zimmer ("The Da Vinci Code").

A strong streak of Anglophilia also carried through the nominations. In the best dramatic actress heat, for example, American Maggie Gyllenhaal, who stars as an ex-con trying to re-establish her life in "Sherrybaby," and the Spanish-born Penelope Cruz, playing a resilient widow in "Volver," are pitted against such formidable British talent as Judi Dench, who portrays a repressed schoolteacher in "Notes on a Scandal"; Kate Winslet, who plays an adulterous suburbanite in "Little Children"; and Mirren in "Queen."

In addition to DiCaprio, the best actor nominees are Peter O'Toole, earning his 10th Globe nomination by playing an aging rogue in "Venus"; Will Smith, for portraying a struggling dad in "The Pursuit of Happyness"; and Forest Whitaker, who stars as the mercurial Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

In the best actress in a comedy or musical category, the nominees are Annette Bening, who plays an unstable mom in "Running With Scissors"; Toni Collette, the long-suffering wife in "Little Miss Sunshine"; Beyonce Knowles, who portrays a rising recording star in "Dreamgirls"; Meryl Streep, for her turn as a fearsome magazine editor in "Prada"; and Renee Zellweger, who plays author Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter."

Collette picked up a second nomination as TV supporting actress for "Tsunami: The Aftermath," and Knowles joined the pack of double nominees because she also shares in the composing credits for best song nominee "Listen" from "Dreamgirls."

For best actor in a comedy or musical, the HFPA nominated Baron Cohen; Johnny Depp, scoring his second Globe nomination for playing Jack Sparrow, this time for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"; Aaron Eckhart, who appears as a tobacco lobbyist in "Thank You for Smoking"; Will Ferrell, who plays a man whose life unfolds like a novel in "Stranger Than Fiction"; and in what amounted to a surprise choice, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who dresses up as a London drag queen in "Kinky Boots." Like Collette, Ejiofor picked up a second nomination for "Tsunami," for which he earned a best actor in a TV miniseries nom.

For best supporting actor, the nominees are Ben Affleck, who portrays the late actor George Reeves in "Hollywoodland"; Eddie Murphy, for his role as an R&B singer in "Dreamgirls"; Brad Pitt as an American encountering trouble abroad in "Babel"; and Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg, for the crime saga "Departed."

For best supporting actress, the nominees are Barraza, who appears as a Mexican housekeeper in "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, for her turn as a reckless teacher in "Scandal"; Emily Blunt, who plays a chic editorial assistant in "Prada"; Jennifer Hudson, who sings up a storm in "Dreamgirls"; and Kikuchi, who portrays a deaf girl yearning for connections in "Babel."

Just as "Babel" also suggests that mankind is more interconnected than it might first appear, the traditional studio rivalry that surfaces when awards are announced also underlines the many business dealings among the major studios.

Paramount Pictures laid claim to 15 nominations, including the seven "Babel" noms earned by its specialty division Paramount Vantage. Warner Bros. Pictures had a hand in 13 noms. Both companies staked a claim to "Flags" and "Iwo Jima," co-produced by Paramount's DreamWorks and Warners. Similarly, Fox Filmed Entertainment, with a big assist from specialty division Fox Searchlight, counted 14 noms in its column by including "The Fountain," which was co-produced with Warners by Fox-based Regency Enterprises.

In any event, the noms represent a resurgence for Warners, which is glad to put a disappointing summer behind it, and Paramount, whose new management team is enjoying time in the awards spotlight.

"In the past it has often been the year of the indie. I think this year is the year of the studio," Weinstein Co. co-head Harvey Weinstein said as his outfit picked up four noms ? three of which went to "Bobby" and one for "Miss Potter," which will be released through MGM.

But, in fact, several indies have sparkled. Buoyed by "Smoking," "Sunshine," "Scandal" and "Scotland," Searchlight is on a roll. "Jubilation is how we felt; we had so many good phone calls to make today," division head Peter Rice said.

Daniel Battsek, completing his first full year as the new head of Miramax Films, saw noms roll in for "Queen," "Venus" and "Kinky Boots." "I'm very superstitious about these things, but to have such a broad range of top nominations at 14 or 15 months into the new company, it feels like we're heading in the right direction," he said. "We did fantastic last year with our first movie, 'Tsotsi,' and it's great to be able to build on that."

In the foreign-language category, Eastwood's Japanese-language "Iwo Jima" and Mel Gibson's Mayan-speaking "Apocalypto" scored nominations. The others are Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others," Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Pedro Almodovar's "Volver."

In the animated film category, something new for the Globes, the nominees are the motoring "Cars," the penguin-filled "Happy Feet" and the spooky "Monster House."

Nominated for best motion picture screenplay are Guillermo Arriaga for "Babel," Todd Field and Tom Perrotta for "Little Children," Patrick Marber for "Scandal," William Monahan for "Departed" and Peter Morgan for "Queen."

Nominees for best original song are "A Father's Way" from "The Pursuit of Happyness," music by Seal and Christopher Bruce, lyrics by Seal; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls," music and lyrics by Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler and Knowles; "Never Gonna Break My Faith" from "Bobby," music and lyrics by Bryan Adams, Eliot Kennedy and Andrea Remanda; "The Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet," music and lyrics by Prince; and "Try Not to Remember" from "Home of the Brave," music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow.

Nicole Sperling in Los Angeles and Gregg Goldstein in New York contributed to this report.
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