GOLDEN GLOBE voters have a long history of kissing up to Hollywood. But as Thursday's nominations proved, Hollywood is no longer centered in Southern California.
The foreign journalists who make up the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. recognized a slate of films for its 64th annual awards that are as geographically diverse as the group's 88 voting members.
"Babel," a movie filmed on three continents and told in four languages, collected the most Globe nominations with seven, including best dramatic picture, best director for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and best screenplay for Guillermo Arriaga.
"The international nature of the movie really appeals to them," Steve Golin, one of "Babel's" producers, said of the Golden Globe voters. "The movie is about globalization and the world we live in." Such multinational productions, he says, "are the nature of the movie business today."
Hollywood's borderless production frontier was on display in numerous other categories.
Two of the nominees for best foreign-language film -- "Apocalypto" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" -- were made by Hollywood directors Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood.
"In film school, [I dreamed] I would be competing for awards with my heroes, and I am," said Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the director of the German best foreign-language film nominee "The Lives of Others." "But I never thought it would be in the foreign-language category. It makes me very happy to see that real cultural exchange between countries. What I really like about films [is] that it is an art form that can bring different peoples together."
In the top categories, Globes (to be presented Jan. 15) are awarded for both dramas and for comedies or musicals. Joining "Babel" for best drama were "The Departed," "Little Children," "The Queen" and, in one of the bigger surprises, "Bobby."
Nominated for best comedy or musical were "Thank You for Smoking," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Dreamgirls," "The Devil Wears Prada" and the popular "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
"We tried to make the best film that we could make," said Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat's" star, who was also nominated for best comedic actor. "It was never, ever a dream of ours that it would get recognized for any award."
Like other Globe nominees, "Borat" has been embraced by audiences around the world. "Audiences laugh at exactly the same moments on both sides of the Atlantic," Cohen said. "That was remarkable to us."
Joining Cohen for best comedy/musical actor were Johnny Depp for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," Aaron Eckhart for "Thank You for Smoking," Will Ferrell from "Stranger Than Fiction" and English actor Chiwetel Ejiofor for "Kinky Boots."
Actresses nominated in the comedy/musical field were "Miss Potter's" Renee Zellweger, "The Devil Wears Prada's" Meryl Streep, "Little Miss Sunshine's" Toni Collette, "Dreamgirls' " Beyonce Knowles and "Running With Scissors' " Annette Bening.
There were double nominations in two categories: Eastwood for directing "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers" and Leonardo DiCaprio for dramatic actor in "Blood Diamond" and "The Departed."
In addition to Mirren, Cruz, Dench and Winslet, "Sherrybaby's" Maggie Gyllenhaal was a dramatic actress nominee.
The writers of "Babel," "Little Children," "Notes on a Scandal," "The Departed" and "The Queen" were nominated for the screenplay prize.
In the best supporting actor for film category, Ben Affleck was nominated for his role as TV's doomed "Superman" in "Hollywoodland." Other nominees in that category were Eddie Murphy as a singer in "Dreamgirls," Jack Nicholson as an Irish mobster in "The Departed," Brad Pitt as a husband who desperately seeks 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 Emily 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."
"I think culturally the world is getting bigger," the Mexican director said. "I think now we are living in the world, we are not living anymore in a country or a society. We are part of the whole.... We have a lot in common beyond the borders ... beyond ideologies. We are getting the sense that we are united."
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When nominees got the call ...
"I am thrilled to bits. Couldn't be more delighted. I am already planning to arouse comment, perhaps even scandal, with my choice of bow-tie."
Hugh Laurie ("House"), through his publicist
"Because it was a party for me, I stayed to the end, and then I decided to just stay up two more hours [for the nominations]. We were all eating pancakes in bed -- we were 15 in one bed. We heard the news and jumped around the room.... I'm going to sleep with a smile on my face."
Penelope Cruz ("Volver"), at home after an
all-night Dolce & Gabbana party in her honor
"It's great news, great news. It's going to be a really great day.... I was totally consumed by it all when I was working on it. I knew that was the case when I went to Uganda. I gave myself over to the project and the character."
Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland")
"I have been such a fan and to play a part in one of his movies
Mark Wahlberg ("The Departed"), on working with
Martin Scorsese on the movie, set in Boston
"I heard the first message and I literally was crying for about five minutes. The first person I called was my mom [in Japan] and I got her voice message, unfortunately. But then she called me five minutes later and we were both crying with joy on the telephone."
Masi Oka ("Heroes"), on oversleeping and
awaking to 82 phone messages