in “A Love Song for Bobby Long”
How she got here: A last-minute decision by star John Travolta to release “Bobby Long” this year for awards consideration didn’t do the trick for him. But it did put Johansson right back where she was last year when she nabbed two lead acting nods from the HFPA for “Lost in Translation” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” “They love her,” says an awards consultant. “She’s very charming, young, hip and really wins them over. She seems to be the new Globe darling.”
How she got here: Even Kidman was a little surprised to be included on the list. The film is small, and the buzz was negative from the Venice festival and then nearly invisible at nomination time. But Kidman was praised for continuing to take on risky roles in smaller films. A love affair with the HFPA that has included three wins — for “To Die For,” “Moulin Rouge” and “The Hours” — continues with this portrait of a woman who thinks a 10-year-old boy may be her dead husband reincarnated.
in “Vera Drake”
How she got here: Although the film’s reception was mixed within the HFPA, there was no arguing that this veteran actress, virtually unknown in America, had nailed the role of a working-class wife who moonlights as an abortionist in a bleak postwar England. Staunton’s first award for the role came at the Venice fest, and she even managed to win Globe recognition without being in Los Angeles much to campaign, a sign of a performance to be reckoned with. A good omen: Another little-known English actress, Brenda Blethyn, took home the Globe in the same category in 1996 for another Mike Leigh drama, “Secrets and Lies.”
in “Million Dollar Baby”
How she got here: Like Johansson, Swank was an 11th-hour entry, but she quickly moved to the top of the charts once the film was screened. Her compelling turn as a scrappy boxer allows her to show a wide range of emotions and display her acting chops playing opposite vets Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. Hard to call this a comeback, but one voter says this role even tops her Oscar- and Globe-winning work in “Boys Don’t Cry” five years ago.
in “Kill Bill Vol. 2”
How she got here: In a very rare move, Thurman nabbed a nom for the same role for which she was nommed last year. When the decision was made to turn “Kill Bill” into a two-part movie, most kudos observers wrote off the second half’s chances to get in the race, since it was released in April. But Thurman impressed with a wholly different, more nuanced kind of performance than the more physical “Vol. 1.”