The nominations

Pierce Brosnan
“The Matador”

How it got there: Globe-nominated once near the beginning of his career for the British mini “Nancy Astor,” Brosnan shed his suave James Bond image to play “The Matador’s” sleazy hitman. “He was a delightful surprise and completely different,” says an HFPA member.

Johnny Depp
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

How he got there: Depp was passed over for his dramatic role in “The Libertine,” but his original take on Willy Wonka made the grade. “He is the actor that can do no wrong. Even if you don’t like the movie, you like him,” says an awards consultant. It’s Depp’s fifth mention in the Globes’ comedy/musical thesp category following “Edward Scissorhands” (1991), “Benny and Joon” (1995), “Ed Wood” (1994) and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (2004). He was also tapped last year in drama for “Finding Neverland.”

Jeff Daniels
“The Squid and the Whale”

How he got there: Tapped in 1986 for “The Purple Rose of Cairo” and in 1987 for “Something Wild,” Daniels take as a self-absorbed intellectual going through a messy divorce had a light enough touch for him to once again get tapped into the comedy/musical category. Sporting a long beard and playing an unlikable character — against type for him — Daniels won the best reviews of his career and another shot at gold. “He has been overlooked in the past, but he finally has a performance that caught (HFPA voters’) attention again,” says an awards consultant.

Nathan Lane
“The Producers”

How he got there: As the sleazy producer who comes up with a scheme to get a tax break by creating a flop musical, Lane brought all the elements to the movie that won him a Tony for the stage version. It’s his second nomination in this category, having been tapped for “The Birdcage” in 1997.

Cillian Murphy
“Breakfast on Pluto”

How he got there: Murphy receives his first Globes attention for this biopic on Irish transvestite cabaret singer Patrick “Kitten” Brady. Murphy’s coming off a breakout year, having appeared in summer pics “Batman Begins” and “Red Eye.” “Pluto” helmer Neil Jordan has generated HFPA love before, garnering a drama pic nom in ’93 for “The Crying Game.” And as one HFPA member notes, Murphy’s “not a bad-looking woman, either.”

Joaquin Phoenix
” Walk the Line”

How he got there: As the legendary Johnny Cash, Phoenix not only follows the lead of Jamie Foxx — a winner in this category for another music-legend biopic, “Ray” — he passes him by doing his own singing. Phoenix’s only other Globe nom was for supporting actor in “Gladiator” in 2001.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more