We’re so overjoyed with the Golden Globe nominations and it’s gratifying that at the end of the year you get an opportunity to acknowledge the company you have been keeping,’ Focus Features CEO James Schamus said in response to the company’s 11 nominations, which included seven for Atonement. ‘It’s so satisfying to see it pay off for not only our stars and magnificent directors but our valued producer friends like Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner at Working Title, Paul Webster, Robert Lantos and my old friend Bill Kong. These are the people who must not be forgotten amid all the hubbub and who put all these films together.’

Atonement director Joe Wright said the nominations were ‘above all a testament to the magnificence of novelist Ian McEwan’s work.’ Wright added: ‘I looked forward to getting up every morning during the filming of Atonement - and this is the best wake-up call I’ve had since then. My thanks go to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association [HFPA] members, and I congratulate all my fellow nominees!’ Christopher Hampton said he was thrilled to be in contention for the screenplay prize, ‘especially at this difficult time for writers.’

‘The main challenge on Atonement was to bring it to the screen and give it the lustre it had to have,’ the film’s producer Paul Webster said. ‘We managed to achieve that thanks to Christopher Hampton’s screenplay, the wonderful cast and the intense preparation and intelligence that Joe Wright brought as director.’ James McAvoy said he had been ‘deeply passionate’ about the project, while Keira Knightley said she was ‘delighted for Joe, James, Saoirse and everyone involved.’ Young supporting actress nominee Saoirse Ronan, who finds herself competing against the likes of Cate Blanchett and Julia Roberts, said: ‘I loved playing Briony, so this is incredibly exciting for myself and my families - my family at home, and my Atonement family.’

Webster also produced the crime drama Eastern Promises, which he said shot in London locations like Hackney and Deptford. ‘You don’t tend to see these places in major films and David [Cronenberg] was looking at things in a certain way. He has a precise and spare style that enables him to conjure up in a single shot what many directors would take far longer to capture.’ Fellow producer Robert Lantos said his third collaboration with Cronenberg was ‘our best experience yet.’

‘We knew when we started shooting from the reaction of our crew that they were relieved not to be shooting in Notting Hill!’ Cronenberg said. ‘Our interaction with Russian community was extensive. Our extras were Russian and they loved it and felt our depiction of that world was real. I’d like to make every film with Viggo [Mortensen]. In fact when people take meetings and we discuss a screenplay they always say, ‘And this would be a great role for Viggo.’ He’s an incredibly intelligent and subtle and does a huge amount of research without making a fuss but he can also respond to the moment as well. He has a combination of calculation and study and spontaneity. The whole cast was great. It was necessary to create a quiet sense of power and they did that.’

A foreign film nod for Focus’ Lust, Caution drew an enthusiastic response from director Ang Lee. ‘I am very grateful to the Hollywood Foreign Press. This film is very special to all of us who worked on it and I very much appreciate the support that the members of this organisation have shown it.’

Warner Bros’ Michael Clayton earned four nominations including best drama and supporting actor for Tom Wilkinson. ‘I couldn’t be happier for George, Tilda, Tony and of course myself,’ Wilkinson said. ‘I love the Golden Globes It’s very relaxed and I look forward to going again.’

Producer Steve Samuels paid tribute to the entire cast and writer-director Tony Gilroy. ‘All these fine actors allow these characters to show their dark sides but in the end it comes together to the point where you understand where each of them is coming from and you can empathise with some of them,’ Samuels said. ‘I cannot say enough good things about Tony. He’s a wonderful writer and director with great vision and people skills and he inspired so much confidence in the people around him.’

Casey Affleck, nominated for supporting actor for his work in Warner Bros’ The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, said he was honoured to be saluted in a group that included Wilkinson and Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men. Actress nominee Jodie Foster said she hadn’t expected a best actress nomination. ‘It’s strange to continue to feel a character in your blood long after it wraps. I am so proud of The Brave One, of where Neil Jordan took the character of Erica Bain. The experience of playing her has moved me deeper than anything I can remember.’

New Line’s musical or comedy nominee Hairspray has been a labour of love for director Adam Shankman. ‘For me the film all starts with our sense of humour about the ugliness of prejudice and being able to hole a mirror in the face of that,’ Shankman said. ‘Everybody is beautiful and different and we should all be celebrating that. It’s funny to see the film get nominated because it feels like I got nominated for being inside my brain.

‘It has the musical appeal of Grease as well as a compelling message at its heart,’ producer Craig Zadan said. ‘When New Line asked us who we wanted to play Edna we said John Travolta straight away - he’s the greatest musical star of our generation.’ Zadan’s producing partner Neil Meron added: ‘Nikki Blonsky was an angel who fell from heaven into an ice cream parlour. She was the only girl out of thousands who auditioned in the US, UK and Australia who was perfect for the part. The first time John met Nikki he said, ‘Come to mamma!”

Hairspray will face stiff competition from the comedy Juno, which Fox Searchlight and Mandate Pictures produced with Mr Mudd. ‘We bought the film on the day we read Diablo’s amazing screenplay,’ Mandate’s president of motion pictures Nathan Kahane said. ‘Jason Reitman was the perfect director for this. The screenplay was beyond amazing and there were millions of ways to get it wrong but Jason did such a great job. Ellen Page is extraordinary.’ Reitman paid tribute to Cody and Page when he said: ‘They are both at the front of incredible careers. The best picture nomination is a real thrill. I never really expected anything like that in my career.’

DreamWorks/Warner Bros’ Sweeney Todd earned four nominations including best comedy or musical. ‘It’s a great honour to receive this nomination from the HFPA.’ Tim Burton, who is also in the running for best director, said. ‘I couldn’t be more thrilled for Johnny, Helena and the film.’ Johnny Depp said he was ‘very excited for Tim and Helena and the film’, while producer Richard Zanuck said: ‘I’m especially thrilled for Tim, whose vision encompassed this entire endeavour. He’s wanted to make this movie for over 20 years and this is a great tribute to his passion and hard work.’

‘I am delighted that the Hollywood Foreign Press were as fascinated by Charlie Wilson’s story as I was,’ the film’s director Mike Nichols said of the Universal release. ‘I am extremely happy for our brilliant writer and our three terrific actors. I hope they will all remember that they were nothing when I found them.’

Julie Taymor, director of Sony’s musical or comedy nominee Across The Universe, said the film came together very quickly. ‘Sometimes that’s the best way to do it: we went from no screenplay in January to shooting in September and I had a brilliant team of collaborators. The film hasn’t done so well in the UK and I think there’s a misconception that John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s songs could only be performed by The Beatles or played as covers. That does a disservice to their music: they’re brilliant songwriters and their work is open to re-interpretation. The film has divided the critics and audiences and it’s good to rile people up. Evan and Jim and the other largely unknown leads were magnificent to work with. It was an inspirational time.’

‘Once Ron Harwood chose to tell the story from the point of view of Jean-Dominique Bauby and Janusz Kaminski and Julian Schnabel came aboard with such passionate conviction I knew they would all bring it to life,’ Kathleen Kennedy, producer on best foreign language nominee The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, said. Miramax holds North American rights.

Turning to her other contender, Kennedy added: ‘On Persepolis I had read the graphic novel and thought it the story was extraordinary. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud shared the same sensibilities and did such a wonderful job. We’re already talking about working on another film together.’ Sony Pictures Classics holds North American rights.

Brad Bird, director of Buena Vista’s animated feature contender Ratatouille, said the best compliment he could get was that people forgot they were watching an animated feature and became engrossed in the story. ‘Our goal isn’t to recreate reality but to give credence to un-reality,’ Bird said. ‘The picture is richer and has a painterly quality to the lighting. We wanted to make something that had story turns that weren’t predictable and yet when you looked back they made sense.’

Cristian Mungiu, Romanian director of foreign film nominee 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, released in North American through IFC Films, said of his abortion drama: ‘It’s not an easy film but somehow it manages to convey my emotions about this personal story. I was concerned about this story and I wanted to tell it very simply and naturally. The critical support was what helped us make this film so visible.’

Shakira said she composed her nominated song ‘Despedida’ for Mike Newell’s Love In The Time Of Cholera ‘with all my love for [author] Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is for me a true genius and the most eloquent spokesman of my people I always wanted to create a song that evoked the mountains of my country and the lament of the Andes.’

Clint Eastwood earned two nominations for Grace Is Gone for score and song of the same name. ‘I was deeply moved by the story in many ways,’ Eastwood said. ‘Being able to express those emotions through music has been a very gratifying experience. I want to especially thank John Cusack whose performance was an inspiration, writer-director James Strouse for a touching story and Harvey Weinstein for the opportunity to create the score.’

Weinstein congratulated Eastwood, Cate Blanchett for her supporting actress nomination for I’m Not There, and producer Oprah Winfrey and director and star Denzel Washington for The Great Debaters. ‘My brother and I are especially excited that The Great Debaters has received a best picture nomination and honoured that our films have received best picture nominations for 12 consecutive years in a row.’ Winfrey and Harpo Films partner Kate Forte said The Great Debaters ‘is a tribute to all those who strive to exceed expectations, especially those who were determined to be successful in a time when no one thought they could.’