Golden Globe surprises and snubs

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- It's not as if any huge shockers emerged from the Golden Globe nominations Thursday. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" lead the field with five apiece, which makes absolute sense - they're all polished, starry, classic awards-season fare.

But still, there were a few surprises and snubs:

- A DARK DAY FOR "THE DARK KNIGHT": Heath Ledger was the only nominee from the blockbuster Batman saga, deservedly receiving a posthumous supporting-actor nomination for his riveting turn as the Joker. It's something we all expected, but director Christopher Nolan's epic actioner has been earning awards buzz across the board, with talk that it could even find itself among the best-picture contenders at the Academy Awards.

- ALONG THOSE LINES: Sean Penn was the only nominee from "Milk," being duly recognized for his richly charismatic depiction of gay politician and civil rights leader Harvey Milk, who was shot to death in 1978. Again, this is one of those movies that has been considered a front-runner all along for top awards; the New York Film Critics Circle chose it as the year's best this past week.

- I COULDN'T HELP BUT WONDER: How did the "Sex and the City" get shut out entirely? The hugely anticipated screen version of the trendsetting HBO series made $153 million in the United States, and its splashy crowd-pleasing nature would seem to make it a natural at the Globes. But it didn't get nominated for best comedy, for star Sarah Jessica Parker or for any of the supporting performances from Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall or Kristin Davis. The red carpet just got a little less glamorous.

- DOWN AND OUT DOWN UNDER: Despite its ambition, wide scope and striking imagery, "Australia" continues to be a letdown. Baz Luhrmann's homage to romantic adventure film, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, also failed to get a single nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It's gotten mixed reviews and has only made about $32 million since its Nov. 26 opening.

- GET OFFA HIS LAWN: Clint Eastwood received nominations for his score and the original song he co-wrote (and sang a bit in) for "Gran Torino," which isn't a big surprise. A longtime jazz lover, he's been writing the music for his films for many years, and previously was nominated for a Golden Globe for "Million Dollar Baby." But best-actor buzz has been building for his funny, roaring performance as a cantankerous bigot who battles the violence in his Detroit neighborhood, and he was left out of that race Thursday.

- ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID: Michael Sheen unfortunately was overlooked again, despite consistently providing solid work opposite showier performers in splashier roles. Two years ago, it was as Tony Blair in "The Queen," in which Helen Mirren reigned supreme. Now, it's as David Frost in "Frost/Nixon," for which his co-star, Frank Langella, received a best-actor nomination as Richard Nixon.

- A LITTLE HUMOR: Smaller movies dominated the best comedy or musical category, between "In Bruges," "Happy-Go-Lucky" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Even "Burn After Reading," with its superstar cast including Brad Pitt and George Clooney, has a quirky Coen brothers aesthetic. The ABBA-centric "Mamma Mia!", the other nominee, was the only traditional choice.

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