Golden Globe nominations

for “Million Dollar Baby”
How he got here: Eastwood has been on the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. radar for nearly 40 years. Winner of the org’s World
Favorite Male trophy in 1971 and the Cecil B. DeMille award in 1988, the HFPA was also the first org to recognize his helming talents, giving him a director statuette in 1988 for “Bird,” followed by another for “Unforgiven” just four years later. Yet another nom came for “Mystic River” last year, and now he’s up for three Globes for “Million Dollar Baby” — producer, director and composer. “Clint does it all, but ultimately for me, it comes down to the film, not who made it, and this one delivered,” says one Globes voter.

for “Finding Neverland”
How he got here: The more traditional filmmaking ability Forster shows in “Neverland,” combined with the literate nature of the movie, its first-rate craftsmanship and the ability of the pic to elicit strong emotion, moved many Globe voters to check off the film in just about every category they could. Who could have ever guessed this family entertainment came from the same guy who lensed “Monster’s Ball”?

for “Closer”
How he got here: Thirty-eight years after receiving his first Globe nom for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Nichols is back in contention with another four-character stage adaptation that, like “Woolf,” shows language can still have shock value onscreen. With his first helming mention since 1988’s “Working Girl,” Globes voters believe that Nichols shows he still has finger on the pulse of contemporary relationships, a careerlong theme that has included Golden Globe-winning movies “Carnal Knowledge” and “The Graduate.”

for “Sideways”
How he got here: Payne’s unerring talent for comedy grounded in bitter truth clearly plays well with critics groups as they have made “Sideways” their most honored movie. The HFPA is no different. In fact, in 2003, the org awarded Payne a screenplay gong for “About Schmidt.” His very American settings prove to be no hindrance for the foreign press, which laps up his subtle yet hilarious takes on human behavior.

for “The Aviator”
How he got here: Often nominated and finally a Globe winner for 2002’s “Gangs of New York,” Scorsese is an iconic figure around the world. “He is the director of all time for anyone overseas,” says an awards consultant. The epic qualities he brought to “The Aviator” show a different side of his talents, and the film is more accessible than many of the darker tales Scorsese has helmed in the past.