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Image: James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in  "Atonement"
Focus Feature via Reuters
James McAvoy and Keira Knightley received best acting nominations for their work in “Atonement.”
updated 12/13/2007 10:12:37 AM ET 2007-12-13T15:12:37

The British historical romance “Atonement” led the competition for the Golden Globes with seven nominations Thursday, including best drama and acting honors for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

The foreign-policy romp “Charlie Wilson’s War” ran second to “Atonement” with five nominations. And among double nominees were Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Clint Eastwood and Eddie Vedder — the latter two receiving bids for song and score.

Besides “Atonement,” the best drama nominees for the 65th Golden Globes were the crime sagas “American Gangster,” “Eastern Promises” and “No Country for Old Men,” the inspirational college drama “The Great Debaters,” the legal drama “Michael Clayton” and the California oil-boom epic “There Will Be Blood.” Because of a tie in voting, seven dramatic nominees were picked, rather than the usual five.

Nominated for best comedy or musical along with “Charlie Wilson’s War” were the Beatles musical “Across the Universe,” the Broadway adaptation “Hairspray,” the teen-pregnancy comedy “Juno” and the bloody musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Adapted from the novel by Ian McEwan, “Atonement” earned dramatic actress and actor nominations for Knightley and McAvoy, who play lovers whose newfound romance is shattered after Knightley’s jealous younger sister (Saoirse Ronan) falsely accuses McAvoy of a crime.

“Atonement” also had nominations for Ronan as supporting actress, director for Joe Wright, screenplay for Christopher Hampton and musical score for Dario Marianelli.

“We’re all jumping around at the moment. It’s just fantastic. I’m working today, so I don’t know whether I’ll be able to celebrate, but we’ll probably have a nice dinner when we get home from work,” the 13-year-old Ronan said after learning she was a nominee.

No clear front-runners have yet emerged in the buildup to the Academy Awards race, so the big nominations haul could make an early favorite out of “Atonement,” which just opened theatrically last week. Oscar nominations come out nine days after the Golden Globes ceremony Jan. 13. (The Oscars will be presented Feb. 24.)

“It’s just so exciting that we’ve got nominated in so many categories,” said Knightley. “There’s such a big group of us that can get to go together. It will be a real celebration for the film. It will be a wonderful night.”

Video: Scoop on the Golden Globes Joining Knightley in the dramatic actress category was Blanchett for her title role as the British monarch in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” Blanchett also had a supporting-actress nomination for her gender-bending role as an incarnation of Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.” (A cross-dressing role earned John Travolta a supporting-actor nomination for “Hairspray,” in which he plays an overweight, homebody housewife.)

Also earning two nominations was Hoffman, for lead actor in a comedy or musical in the sibling tale “The Savages” and supporting actor for “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

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“Charlie Wilson’s War” is a comic look at a congressman (Tom Hanks), a Texas socialite (Julia Roberts) and a slovenly CIA man (Hoffman) who engineered the covert U.S. response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Hanks was cited for best actor in a comedy or musical, while Roberts was nominated as supporting actress.

Surprising omissions in the musical or comedy category were Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” both huge critical and box-office hits, as well as his upcoming parody “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” “Walk Hard” star John C. Reilly was nominated in the best musical or comedy actor category, however.

Also overlooked were Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, who had acclaimed performances in “No Country for Old Men.” Their co-star Javier Bardem, who has a chilling role as a relentless killer trailing a man who made off with a fortune in drug money, was nominated for supporting actor.

A critics favorite, “No Country for Old Men” also had nominations for Joel and Ethan Coen for both directing and their screenplay, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel.

Slideshow: Julia Roberts: Then and now Vedder also received two nominations, for best score for the road drama “Into the Wild” and for an original song he wrote for the film, “Guaranteed.” Besides his best-actor nomination, Reilly also is up for original song for the theme from “Walk Hard,” which he co-wrote with Marshall Crenshaw, Apatow and director Jake Kasdan.

Perpetual awards favorite Eastwood did not even have a movie of his own out this year but scored two Globe nominations, for his score and the title song for the Iraq War drama “Grace Is Gone.”

Sean Penn, the Oscar-winning star of Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” was shut out in the directing category for “Into the Wild,” while Penn’s lead actor Emile Hirsch also missed out on a nomination.

Denzel Washington, director of “The Great Debaters,” had a best dramatic actor nomination for “American Gangster,” in which he plays a 1970s Harlem heroin baron. Russell Crowe, who plays the cop who brings him down, was snubbed by Globe voters, though.

Along with Washington and McAvoy, dramatic-actor nominees were George Clooney as a conscience-torn attorney in “Michael Clayton,” Daniel Day-Lewis as an oil tycoon in early 20th century California in “There Will Be Blood” and Viggo Mortensen as a Russian mobster in “Eastern Promises.”

Joining Knightley and Blanchett in the dramatic-actress category were Julie Christie as a woman succumbing to Alzheimer’s in “Away From Her,” Jodie Foster as a Manhattan vigilante in “The Brave One” and Angelina Jolie as journalist Mariane Pearl in “A Mighty Heart.”

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings Actresses who became instant box-office stars in 2007 earned nominations for best actress in a musical or comedy: Nikki Blonsky as a vivacious Baltimore teen in “Hairspray,” Amy Adams as an exiled fairy-tale princess in “Enchanted” and Ellen Page as a sardonic pregnant teen in “Juno.”

Tim Burton and his romantic partner and frequent co-star Helena Bonham Carter scored nominations, he for directing “Sweeney Todd” and she for actress in a musical or comedy. The film’s star, Johnny Depp, was nominated for musical or comedy actor for his bloodthirsty role as a vengeful barber.

Nominated for animated feature were the insect comedy “Bee Movie,” the rodent tale “Ratatouille” and the TV adaptation “The Simpsons Movie.”

Complicating this latest season of Hollywood backslapping is a strike by the Writers Guild of America, whose members walked off the job in November over their share of potential profits from programming distributed over the Internet.

Many awards shows are written under guild contract, so it remains unclear how the strike might affect the ceremonies.

Presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a relatively small group of about 85 people who cover show business for overseas media, the Golden Globes nevertheless exert considerable influence on awards season.

Three of the four acting winners for the 2006 Oscars — Helen Mirren for “The Queen,” Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland” and Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls” — won at the Globes beforehand. The only miss was Eddie Murphy, who won the supporting-actor Globe for “Dreamgirls” but lost at the Oscars to Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Director Martin Scorsese also preceded his best-director Oscar win for “The Departed” with the same prize at the Globes.

While either the best drama or musical-comedy winner at the Globes often goes on to win the best-picture Oscar, the two awards shows have picked different films for their top honors in the last three years. “Babel” was the dramatic winner and “Dreamgirls” was the musical or comedy champ a year ago at the Globes, but come Oscar night, Scorsese’s “The Departed” triumphed.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Golden Globe nominations

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