Brokeback Mountain, a film by Ang Lee about the forbidden love between two cowboys in 1960s Wyoming, emerged yesterday as the front-runner in the Golden Globe competition with seven nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, including nods for best dramatic movie, best director and best screenplay.
Heath Ledger's performance as the taciturn Ennis Del Mar earned him a nomination for best actor in a dramatic movie and Michelle Williams - who plays his wife - was nominated for best supporting actress. (Visit baltimoresun.com/goldenglobes to view photo galleries of the major nominees or to vote for your favorite movies and TV shows.)
Lee said he welcomed the recognition for the film, calling the praise "a wonderful turnaround" from early responses to Brokeback Mountain, which was dubbed in some parts "the gay cowboy movie."
"If we knew about what love is, we would have stopped telling love stories 2,000 years ago," the director said in explaining the movie's appeal. "We are still searching."
With two films in contention, actor-director George Clooney picked up a raft of nominations as well. Good Night, and Good Luck, a black-and-white movie that tells the story of CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow's battle with Sen. Joseph McCarthy, got four nominations, including best dramatic motion picture, best director for Clooney and best actor for David Strathairn, who played Murrow.
Syriana, a political thriller about the oil industry, earned two nominations - one for best score and one for Clooney for best supporting actor.
Clooney said he takes the honors as they come and does not look ahead to the Oscars. "I don't really know anything about that game. I'm new to it," said Clooney, who shared the Venice Film Festival's screenplay prize for Good Night, and Good Luck. "What I really do is look at each one of these awards as icing on the cake."
Meanwhile, ABC's Desperate Housewives continued to dominate the television comedy category, with stars Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria - who was shut out last year - garnering nominations for best actress in a musical or comedy series. The show also was nominated for best television comedy series.
"Everybody keeps saying finally, but it's only my second year," an elated Eva Longoria said of her first nomination. "It's not like I've been waiting 20 years. ... To be in the company of all of my cast-mates is such an honor and makes it a more joyous occasion."
Overall, HBO led the television pack with 17 Globe nominations, including two each for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage and Rome, and nine for three of its miniseries, Empire Falls, Warm Springs and Lackawanna Blues.
Huffman had a presence in the film categories as well, earning a nomination for best actress in a movie drama for her performance in Transamerica, the story of a transsexual on a road trip with her son.
"It's wonderful that such unconventional and original material is being embraced," Huffman said of the nomination. "I should play Ritalin-addicted working mothers and transgendered fake missionaries more often! I'm just glad that I was nominated for best actress instead of best actor."
Besides Huffman, dramatic-actress nominees were Ziyi Zhang as a poor girl who rises to queen bee in Memoirs of a Geisha, Maria Bello as a wife learning painful secrets about her husband in A History of Violence, Gwyneth Paltrow as the daughter of an unstable math genius in Proof and Charlize Theron as a woman leading a sexual-harassment lawsuit in North Country.
Along with Ledger and Strathairn, dramatic-lead-actor contenders included Russell Crowe as Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock in Cinderella Man and Philip Seymour Hoffman as author Truman Capote in Capote. The fifth nominee was Terrence Howard as a hard-luck pimp-turned-rapper in Hustle & Flow.
Because they are chosen by a comparatively small group of about 90 entertainment reporters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globe nominations often recognize a less mainstream field than the Oscars, which are awarded by 5,800 actors, filmmakers and other Hollywood professionals.
This year's 63rd annual Golden Globes ceremony will be held Jan. 16, five days before the close of voting in the Oscars race. It will air on NBC (WBAL, Channel 11).
Matea Gold writes for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Golden Globe nominations
Picture, drama: Brokeback Mountain, The Constant Gardener, Good Night, and Good Luck, A History of Violence, Match Point.
Actress, drama: Maria Bello, A History of Violence; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof; Charlize Theron, North Country; Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha.
Actor, drama: Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.
Picture, musical or comedy: Mrs. Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice, The Producers, The Squid and the Whale, Walk the Line.
Actress, musical or comedy: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice; Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale; Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.
Actor, musical or comedy: Pierce Brosnan, The Matador; Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale; Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Nathan Lane, The Producers; Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line.
Director: Woody Allen, Match Point; George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck; Peter Jackson, King Kong; Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener; Steven Spielberg, Munich.
Screenplay: Woody Allen, Match Point; George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck; Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash; Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich; Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain.
Foreign language: Kung Fu Hustle, China; Master of the Crimson Armor, China; Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel), France; Paradise Now, Palestine; Tsotsi, South Africa.
Original score: Alexandre Desplat, Syriana; James Newton Howard, King Kong; Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain; Harry Gregson-Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha.
Original song: "A Love That Will Never Grow Old," Brokeback Mountain; "Christmas in Love," Christmas in Love; "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway," The Producers; "Travelin' Thru," Transamerica; "Wunderkind," The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Series, drama: Commander in Chief, ABC; Grey's Anatomy, ABC; Lost, ABC; Prison Break, Fox; Rome, HBO.
Series, musical or comedy: Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; Desperate Housewives, ABC; Entourage, HBO; Everybody Hates Chris, UPN; My Name is Earl, NBC; Weeds, Showtime.
Actress, musical or comedy: Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives; Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives; Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives; Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives; Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds.
Actor, musical or comedy: Zach Braff, Scrubs; Steve Carell, The Office; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm; Jason Lee, My Name is Earl; Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men.
Miniseries or movie: Empire Falls, Lackawanna Blues and Warm Springs, HBO; Into the West, TNT; Sleeper Cell, Showtime; Viva Blackpool, BBC America.
Actress, miniseries or movie: Halle Berry, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Kelly MacDonald, The Girl in the Cafe; S. Epatha Merkerson, Lackawanna Blues; Cynthia Nixon, Warm Springs; Mira Sorvino, Human Trafficking.
Actor, miniseries or movie: Kenneth Branagh, Warm Springs; Ed Harris, Empire Falls; Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Elvis; Bill Nighy, The Girl in the Cafe; Donald Sutherland, Human Trafficking.
Supporting actress, series, miniseries or movie: Candice Bergen, Boston Legal; Camryn Manheim, Elvis; Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy; Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds; Joanne Woodward, Empire Falls.
Supporting actor, series, miniseries or movie: Naveen Andrews, Lost; Paul Newman, Empire Falls; Jeremy Piven, En- tourage; Randy Quaid, Elvis; Don- ald Sutherland, Commander in Chief.