“Crash” How he got there: With what many consider to be the year’s most sterling ensemble cast, it was tough for Globe voters to single out just one perf in “Crash.” As a somewhat racist cop who must confront his own feelings, Dillon was complicated, hateful and sympathetic all at the same time, which is why he probably stood out from the pack according to one HFPA member, who adds that he was surprised others from the cast weren’t nominated as well. Will Ferrell
“The Producers” How he got there: With five films released in 2005, Ferrell was bound to strike gold sooner or later. But his role as Franz Liebkind, the Nazi sympathizer who writes “Springtime for Hitler” in “The Producers,” was not expected to do the trick. Many consider him a surprise nominee (considering stiff competition from castmate Roger Bart). But Ferrell — along with Uma Thurman, the movie-star interlopers in the cast of Broadway vets re-creating their original roles — holds his own. Paul Giamatti
“Cinderella Man” How he got there: Giamatti, who was Oscar’s most notorious omission last year for his Golden Globe-nominated role in “Sideways,” is back in the Globe race this year as Jim Braddock’s trainer Joe Gould in “Cinderella Man.” As one consultant put it, “Giamatti is going to be one of those actors who gets nominated for everything he does. He’s that good.” Bob Hoskins
“Mrs. Henderson Presents” How he got there: Nominated for lead actor in drama in 1986′s “Mona Lisa” and for lead actor in a comedy for 1988′s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Hoskins has won Globe voters over once again, this time playing the real-life Vivian Van Damme, who helps run a theater featuring naked women in “Mrs. Henderson Presents.” (Hoskins even gets naked himself.) HFPA members loved the witty repartee between Judi Dench and Hoskins, who also co-produced the film.