- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Helen Mirren, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood were among the multiple Golden Globe nominees yesterday, while the multinational ensemble drama “Babel” led all 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 picture “The Queen.”

Miss Mirren received nominations for playing both Queen Elizabeth I and II. She was nominated for best dramatic movie actress for playing the current monarch in “The Queen” and for the title role in the TV miniseries “Elizabeth I.” She also got a nomination for best actress in a TV miniseries or movie for “Prime Suspect: The Final Act.”

Other multiple nominees include Mr. DiCaprio, who got two nominations for best dramatic film actor — in “Blood Diamond” and “The Departed”; Mr. Eastwood, who had two directing nominations for his World War II companion films, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima”; and Toni Collette, nominated 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.”

Told in Japanese, “Letters From Iwo Jima” also was nominated for best foreign-language film, along with Mel Gibson’s bloody Maya epic, “Apocalypto.” Under Globe rules, the two films were eligible only in the foreign-language category, not the best-picture category.

“Babel,” a story of families around the globe connected by a tragic shooting in the North African desert, also got nominations for performers Brad Pitt, Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and best screenplay and musical score.

“The Departed” trailed “Babel” with six nominations — including one for director Martin Scorsese.

The Globes also have a category for best comedy or musical film, the nominees for which include the American culture satire “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The movie’s star, Sacha Baron Cohen, also was nominated for best actor in a movie comedy or musical.

The other best comedy or musical nominees 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 Mr. DiCaprio, nominees for best dramatic film actor 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 Miss Mirren for “The Queen” as a nominee for best dramatic film actress are 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.”

Besides Miss Collette, the nominees for best actress in a musical or comedy film are Annette Bening for the dysfunctional childhood tale “Running With Scissors,” Beyonce Knowles for “Dreamgirls,” Meryl Streep for “The Devil Wears Prada” and Renee Zellweger for “Miss Potter,” a tale of children’s author Beatrix Potter.

Along with Mr. Cohen for “Borat,” the nominees for best actor in a comedy or musical include Johnny Depp for the summer blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” Aaron Eckhart for “Thank You for Smoking,” Chiwetel Ejiofor for the drag-queen romp “Kinky Boots” and Will Ferrell for the literary story “Stranger Than Fiction.”

Along with “Babel” co-stars Mr. Pitt, Miss Barraza and Miss Kikuchi, the supporting film categories include another “Babel” co-star, Cate Blanchett, for “Notes on a Scandal.” The other supporting-actress nominees: Emily Blunt for “The Devil Wears Prada” and Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls.”

“The acting was definitely a challenge for me because I’ve been singing for 17 years. This is my first time ever acting, other than working on a cruise ship,” Miss Hudson said on NBC’s “Today” show after learning of her nomination.

“The Departed” co-stars Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg were nominated for best supporting film actor along with Ben Affleck for “Hollywoodland” and Eddie Murphy for “Dreamgirls.”

The musical penguin tale “Happy Feet,” the talking-autos comedy “Cars” and the spooky children’s flick “Monster House” were nominated for best animated film of 2006.

Along with “Apocalypto” and “Letters From Iwo Jima,” foreign-language film nominees are Germany’s “The Lives of Others,” Mexico’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and Spain’s “Volver.”

Best TV drama contenders: “24,” “Big Love,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes” and “Lost.” Comedy or musical TV series nominees: “Desperate Housewives,” “Entourage,” “The Office,” “Ugly Betty” and “Weeds.”

“Desperate Housewives” co-stars Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman both were nominated for best actress in a TV comedy or musical.

The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 people who write about the film industry for overseas media. Some critics question the validity of the Globes, saying the group has many part-time journalists and reporters who write for obscure outlets.

Nevertheless, the Globes have long stood as the second-biggest Hollywood honors after the Oscars. Academy Awards contenders can solidify their prospects with a win at the Globes, which serve as solid forecasts for how the Oscars might play out.

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.

However, the Globes failed to predict the best-picture Oscar winner the past two years. “The Aviator” won best drama at the Globes for 2004, but “Million Dollar Baby” took the Oscar; “Brokeback Mountain” won best drama at the Globes for last year, but “Crash” was the Oscar champ.

Golden Globe winners will be announced Jan. 15, eight days before Oscar nominations. The Oscars will be presented Feb. 25.

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