BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The Civil War epic "Cold Mountain" collected a leading eight Golden Globe nominations Thursday including best drama, as Hollywood marked the start of its annual trophy-giving season.
"Lost in Translation," starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, and "Mystic River," the story of three adult friends linked by tragic crimes, received five nominations each.
Along with "Cold Mountain" and "Mystic River," best movie drama contenders were the seafaring epic "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," the true-life horse racing story "Seabiscuit" and the fantasy saga "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."
"The Return of the King," the third film in a hugely successful trilogy, had four nominations including Peter Jackson for best director.
"Big Fish," director Tim Burton's offbeat story of a charismatic father and his repressed son, also got four nominations including best musical or comedy. It competes against the year's highest-grossing movie, the computer-animated "Finding Nemo," and three smaller films: "Lost in Translation," the soccer coming-of-age story "Bend it Like Beckham" and the British holiday romance anthology "Love Actually."
"The Reagans," which CBS dropped after Reagan admirers complained that it dwelled on the negative, got made-for-TV movie nominations for James Brolin and Judy Davis -- who played former President Reagan and first lady Nancy. The Showtime cable channel eventually picked up the movie.
Ben Kingsley's performance as a desperate Iranian immigrant in "House of Sand and Fog" joined with Russell Crowe's hardscrabble sea captain in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" in the lead dramatic movie actor category. Other contenders were Tom Cruise for "The Last Samurai," Jude Law for "Cold Mountain" and Sean Penn for "Mystic River."
"Everything's rushing this morning, it's so exciting for us and for the film," Kingsley told The Associated Press.
Nicole Kidman's role as a prim Southerner in "Cold Mountain" earned her a nomination for lead dramatic actress in a movie, along with Uma Thurman for "Kill Bill: Vol. 1," Charlize Theron for "Monster," Evan Rachel Wood for "Thirteen," and Cate Blanchett for "Veronica Guerin."
Johansson had two lead performance nominations -- one for the drama "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and one in the comedy class for "Lost in Translation."
Also nominated with Johansson in the lead comedy film actress category were Diane Keaton for "Something's Gotta Give" and Helen Mirren for "Calendar Girls," two films about beauty and romance among older women. Jamie Lee Curtis was also recognized in the category for playing a mom who switches bodies with her teenage daughter in the remake "Freaky Friday," while Diane Lane received a bid for the romance "Under the Tuscan Sun."
Jack Black was a surprise nominee for lead comedy or musical film actor for his role as a phony music teacher in "The School of Rock," while Johnny Depp was nominated for playing a wobbly buccaneer in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Other nominees in the category: Murray for "Lost in Translation," Jack Nicholson for "Something's Gotta Give" and Billy Bob Thornton for "Bad Santa."
Renee Zellweger as a tough mountain woman in "Cold Mountain" and Hope Davis as the wife of a dowdy comic book scribe in "American Splendor" were among supporting movie actress nominees along with Patricia Clarkson in "Pieces of April," Holly Hunter in "Thirteen" and Maria Bello in "The Cooler."
In the supporting movie actor class, Albert Finney was nominated for playing a tall-tale teller in "Big Fish," while Alec Baldwin was recognized for playing a casino boss in "The Cooler." William H. Macy also received a bid for playing a colorful but fictional horse race announcer in "Seabiscuit." Other nominees: Ken Watanabe for his role as a warrior in "The Last Samurai," Tim Robbins as a grown-up abuse victim in "Mystic River" and Peter Sarsgaard as a skeptical editor in "Shattered Glass."
Along with Jackson for "The Return of the King," the best movie director nominees were Sofia Coppola for "Lost in Translation," Clint Eastwood for "Mystic River," Anthony Minghella for "Cold Mountain" and Peter Weir for "Master and Commander."
The attention given "Cold Mountain" was especially gratifying considering many foreign cast and crew members worked on such a homegrown American story, British director Minghella said. Kidman is from Australia, Law is English, and the film was shot in Romania, which Minghella chose for its undeveloped landscapes as a stand-in for the Confederate South.
"The great thing about Hollywood has been its generosity toward people who don't come from America," Minghella said by telephone from Sydney, Australia.
In the TV categories, best drama series nominations went to NBC's perennial award-grabber "The West Wing," the real-time Fox thriller "24," the FX plastic surgery drama "Nip/Tuck," CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and HBO's "Six Feet Under."
Comedy series nominations went to the cult-favorite British sitcom "The Office," about a brutally bad middle manager which airs in the United States on BBC America. Other competitors were the fledgling Fox show "Arrested Development," and three critical favorites, USA's "Monk," HBO's "Sex and the City" and NBC's "Will & Grace."
"I'm relieved and thrilled and I've rediscovered the power of prayer," a very sleepy-sounding "Monk" star Tony Shalhoub told E! by phone. "It's a great way to wake up."
The Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have a history of honoring future Oscar winners.
Last season, the Globes were awarded Jan. 19 -- and this time the live telecast is scheduled for Jan. 25. The new date comes just two days before Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 27.
Meanwhile, the main Oscar ceremony is set for Feb. 29, about four weeks earlier than usual.