British talent glitters at the Golden Globes

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Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes have two shots at glory in awards seen as a dress rehearsal for the Oscars – with Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon vying for best film

Frost/Nixon, the new film starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen that retells the drama surrounding David Frost's interviews with Richard Nixon after his resignation, garnered a handsome harvest of five Golden Globe nominations yesterday, just days after its release in the US.

"It's brilliant," Eric Fellner, a producer at Working Title, which released the film, said on hearing the news. "The film needs all the accolades and nominations that it can get to elevate it at this time of year into the market place." The London-based production company was also celebrating after another of its films from this year, Burn After Reading, was nominated in the best film musical or comedy category.

Only one other film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which follows the life of a man who gets younger as time goes by, equalled Frost/Nixon with five nominations. Both films drew nods for their lead actors – Langella and Brad Pitt – and for best film drama, the most prestigious of the categories.

Others in line for a possible best actor Golden Globe at the awards ceremony that will take place on 11 January include Sean Penn for his lead role in Milk, about the openly gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road, which co-stars Kate Winslet, and Mickey Rourke for his new film, The Wrestler.

One of the surprises from yesterday's roster of nominations, read to expectant entertainment reporters at an early morning press conference at a Beverly Hills hotel, was the omission of Milk from the list of best film drama nominations. Films that were on the list included Revolutionary Road, as well as The Reader, a post-Nazi Germany drama starring Ralph Fiennes, and Slumdog Millionaire.

The nod for Slumdog, about a young and impoverished boy in Mumbai, India, reaching for fame and fortune from the set of a popular television game show, confirmed the film's status as this year's unexpected, sentimental hit. For a while it had looked as if the film would only be released to DVD, until it received unexpectedly rapturous praise at some out-of-the-way independent film festivals.

Aside from Burn After Reading, a CIA spy farce, also featuring Pitt and directed by the Coen Brothers, those films nominated in the film musical or comedy category included Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, directed by Woody Allen, and the candy-confected Mamma Mia!

Working Title had no hopes for Burn After Reading, in part because the previous Coen Brothers release, No Country for Old Men, won a Golden Globe last year. "We figured it doesn't happen twice in a row," Mr Fellmer said, acknowledging his surprise.

Frost/Nixon, originally a West End play written by Peter Morgan that also transferred to Broadway last year, with Langella and Sheen in the title roles, faces a possible tough road in gaining a wide commercial audience. However, it had respectable box-office receipts in its opening weekend.

Mr Fellmer pointed to people in America suffering "withdrawal" from the ups and downs of this year's presidential contest, saying they may therefore be drawn to "an intelligent and intellectual political drama". The film version was directed by Ron Howard and also stars Toby Jones and Kevin Bacon.

Those put in line yesterday for a possible best actress Golden Globe included Kristin Scott Thomas for her remarkable performance (in French) as an ex-prison convict in I Loved You So Long, Winslet as a depressed married woman in Revolutionary Road, Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, and Angelina Jolie for The Changeling, the story of a devoted mother in Depression-era California searching for her abducted young son.

The Golden Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are sometimes seen as a harbinger to the Oscars.

And the British nominees are...

Best actress (drama)

Kristin Scott Thomas 'I've Loved You So Long'

Kate Winslet 'Revolutionary Road'

Best actress (musical or comedy)

Sally Hawkins 'Happy-Go-Lucky'

Emma Thompson 'Last Chance Harvey '

Rebecca Hall 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

Best supporting actor

Ralph Fiennes 'The Duchess'

Best supporting actress

Kate Winslet 'The Reader'

Best director

Danny Boyle 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Stephen Daldry 'The Reader'

Sam Mendes 'Revolutionary Road'

Best screenplay

David Hare 'The Reader'

Peter Morgan 'Frost/Nixon'

Simon Beaufoy 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Best original song

Peter Gabriel Down to Earth – 'Wall-E'

Best actor (drama) in TV series

Hugh Laurie 'House'

Jonathan Rhys Meyers 'The Tudors'

Best actress (mini-series or film made for TV)

Judi Dench 'Cranford'

Best actor (mini-series or film made for TV)

Tom Wilkinson 'Recount'

Ralph Fiennes 'Bernard and Doris'

Best supporting actress (mini-series or film made for TV)

Eileen Atkins 'Cranford'

Best supporting actor (mini-series or film made for TV)

Tom Wilkinson 'John Adams'

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