Comedy/Musical Actress

The nominations

Judi Dench
“Mrs. Henderson Presents”

How she got here: A two-time Golden Globe winner for her work in movies (“Mrs. Brown”) and television (“The Last of the Blonde Bombshells”) and a six-time nominee, Dench got one of her juiciest roles in years as a widow who buys a run-down theater during World War II and hires naked girls to appear in shows. Running the gamut from high comedy to drama, she gets to display all the acting ability that Globe voters love. “They love her. She’s royalty and a dame in the best sense of the word,” says one awards consultant.

Keira Knightley
“Pride & Prejudice”

How she got here: A first-time Globe nominee, 20-year-old Knightley has been acting since she was a child, but follows in the footsteps of many young British stars the Globes have liked to “discover” over the years. As the feisty Elizabeth Bennet, she showed a different side of her talents previously seen in such action pics as “Pirates of the Carribean” and “King Arthur.” “The movie was great, and Keira was just marvelous in this part,” says one HFPA member.

Laura Linney
“The Squid and the Whale”

How she got here: After getting a Globe nom for lead actress in a drama for 2001’s “You Can Count on Me” and a supporting actress nod for last year’s “Kinsey,” Linney nabbed a third nom — for actress in a comedy or musical — for her role in “The Squid and the Whale.” The noms illustrate her versatility as an actress. Although she is in the comedy category this year, her role as Joan Berkman, an author in the midst of a painful divorce, allows her plenty of dramatics as well.

Sarah Jessica Parker
“The Family Stone”

How she got here: If anyone has been the darling of the Globes in recent years, it’s Parker, who had seven noms and four wins for her role of Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO series “Sex and the City.” Now that she has switched to films, she has her first movie nomination as a difficult New York businesswoman who comes to Connecticut to spend Christmas with her boyfriend’s bohemian family. Whether she can continue her winning Globe ways in movies remains to be seen, but it seems that no matter what she does, the HFPA watches carefully. “They adore her and always have, and she was brave enough this time to play a character who isn’t always likable,” says an awards consultant.

Reese Witherspoon
“Walk the Line”

How she got here: Nominated in this category two times previously for “Election” and “Legally Blonde,” many consider Witherspoon the front-runner for her stunning turn as June Carter, the sprightly country singer who won Johnny Cash’s heart. In a category called musical or comedy she does both, doing her own singing and making it all look easy. Already the winner of both Boston and New York film critics honors for actress, this could finally be her big year for awards.