The nominations

Russell Crowe
“Cinderella Man”

How he got here: It’s a somewhat surprising nom, largely because of the film’s summer release, its box office struggles and the competitive nature of this category. But Crowe’s emotionally charged performance as Depression-era boxer James Braddock clearly struck a chord with HFPA voters. “They think Russell Crowe is just a terrific actor. Period. They aren’t voting for best human being of the year, just a performance,” says one awards consultant. Crowe has been Globe-nominated five times. He won in 2002 for “A Beautiful Mind.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman
“Capote”

How he got here: A widely admired actor whose previous eclectic collection of indie film performances failed to win him any sort of Golden Globes notice, Hoffman received his first nomination for portraying the tortured genius of Truman Capote as he struggled to write “In Cold Blood.” “(HFPA voters) felt he is the movie, and I think they see him as the guy to beat for everything, including the Oscar this year,” says a veteran studio consultant.

Terrence Howard
“Hustle & Flow”

How he got here: Howard broke through with his widely acclaimed performance as a down-and-out pimp striving hard for a rap-music career — a tough role many might otherwise have ignored if not for all the Sundance buzz last year. And although the film was released in midsummer and competition is fierce for lead actors, “He just jumped off the screen for me, and he was also very good in ‘Crash,’ ” says one HFPA voter. “He certainly deserves this recognition.” It’s Howard’s first Globe nom.

Heath Ledger
“Brokeback Mountain”

How he got here: Ledger’s first Globe nom was expected by just about everybody — and some Globe watchers were surprised he wasn’t also tapped for “Casanova.” “They thought both (Ledger and ‘Brokeback’ co-star Jake Gyllenhaal) were just terrific, but the competition was just too tight this year for both to get in,” says an awards consultant.

David Strathairn
“Good Night, and Good Luck”

How he got here: A veteran actor who has never been Globe-nominated before had the good luck this time to play newscaster Edward R. Murrow, whom many older-skewing HFPA voters remember with fondness. “For me, everything about that movie was flawless, including Strathairn as Murrow,” says an HFPA member. “He may have been just imitating (Murrow), but it was a brilliant imitation.”

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