Miramax'shomeric American Civil War drama Cold Mountain led the 61st Golden Globe nominationstoday (Dec 18) with eight nods including best drama, actor, actress, directorand screenplay, while Focus Features' dreamy Tokyo romance Lost InTranslation and Warner'smurder drama Mystic River followed on five each. The Globes are voted on by the 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In the bestdrama category Cold Mountain goes up against The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, which picked up four nominations, MasterAnd Commander, Mystic River and Seabiscuit. The five nominees for best musical or comedy are Bend It LikeBeckham, Big Fish, Finding Nemo, Lost In Translation and Love Actually.

Lost InTranslation earned SofiaCoppola three nominations for best film (as producer, director andscreenwriter) as well as acting nods in the musical or comedy section for BillMurray and Scarlett Johansson, who made a splash with a second individualnomination in the drama category for Girl With A Pearl Earring. "Wow, these nominations are soamazing," Coppola said in a statement. "I am so proud that I had theopportunity to work with Bill Murray and Scarlett. Those two actors and theirperformances are the best any director could ask for." Johansson added:"To be honored with two Golden Globe nominations is beyond my wildest dreams.It's the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. I'm still shaking inmy shoes here on the set in Italy." [Johansson is shooting A Good Woman with Helen Hunt.]

"Sofia has made the most original and beautiful film,"Focus co-chairman David Linde told Screen. "This is great for her and Bill andScarlett. The HFPA has really acknowledged that Sofia is a true triple threatas producer, director and writer. She is a true artist and we are veryappreciative."

However Focuswas knocked back by the complete omission of 21 Grams, which failed to earn a singlenomination despite acclaimed performances from Sean Penn, who was nominated inthe drama category for his role in Mystic River, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. "Wehave a long track record of fighting for movies and 21 Grams is a great one and we are just gettingstarted with its awards season," Linde added.

Nicole Kidmanheads up the best actress in a drama category for her role in Cold Mountain and faces stiff competition from thelikes of Cate Blanchett for Veronica Guerin, Charlize Theron for Monster, Uma Thurman for Kill Bill Vol 1, Evan Rachel Wood for Thirteen and Johansson. "We are so proud to havemade a film that celebrates love and humanity, but also deals with the crueltyof war," Kidman said in a statement. "To have it recognised so overwhelminglymeans the world to me and all of us, both in front of and behind the camera."

In the bestactor drama stakes Jude Law's turn in Cold Mountain pits him against Russell Crowe for thenaval adventure Master And Commander, which picked up three nominations, Tom Cruise for TheLast Samurai, Sean Pennfor Mystic River andBen Kingsley for House Of Sand And Fog.

In the directorscategory Coppola faces off against Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain), Clint Eastwood (Mystic River), Peter Weir (Master And Commander) and Peter Jackson (The Return Of TheKing). For Minghella,who praised his entire cast and crew on Cold Mountain, the production was a long butworthwhile endeavour. "It has been a very long journey making this film," hetold Screen. "It is strange because the movie hasn't been released anywhere yetand so it's a bit of a secret. I signed on to do the film in 1998 and startedwork on it four years ago after Ripley, so it has been an odyssey behind the camera as well as infront of it. Everything was protracted and it doesn't help that I am theslowest film-maker in the world. I'm like a tortoise and it's very gratifyingto see the film we have delivered."

Cold Mountain producer and Minghella's producingpartner Sydney Pollack said: "We went down some blind alleys and got there inthe end. Anthony is a gift for me, not only as a director and adaptor but as myproducing partner, where he has been a nurturer and an enabler for everybody heworks with."

Jackson'snomination for his fantasy trilogy finale comes as The Return Of The King is breaking records around the world inits nascent international run. "It has been fun," producer Barrie Osborne said."We are just coming off the premieres and the film has had a great reception.Going through the whole process I always felt very confident that we would do agood job. You could see in preparation that the movie would be exceptional andthe talent of everybody involved made it happen. It has been an incredible fewyears for all of us."

Jack Nicholsonand Diane Keaton both received acting nods in the musical or comedy categoryfor the romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give. Nicholson goes against Murray for LostIn Translation, JackBlack for School Of Rock and Johnny Depp for Pirates Of The Caribbean. Keaton faces off with Jamie Lee Curtisfor Freaky Friday,Diane Lane for Under The Tuscan Sun, Helen Mirren for Calendar Girls and Johansson in Lost In Translation.

In thesupporting actress stakes, Maria Bello is recognised for The Cooler, Patricia Clarkson for Pieces OfApril, Hope Davis for AmericanSplendor and ReneeZellweger for Cold Mountain. Male contenders feature Alec Baldwin for The Cooler, Albert Finney for Big Fish, William H Macy for Seabiscuit, Tim Robbins for Mystic River, Ken Watanabe for The Last Samurai and Peter Sarsgaard for his acclaimedrole as editor Chuck Lane in the journalism thriller Shattered Glass. "I have always been interested injournalism and have a lot of respect for good journalists," Sarsgaard said. "Iread a good amount of the New Republic [the magazine featured in the film] andit was interesting to play a character who is like a detective in this film andkeeps trying to put together all the information together. I was working until2.30 this morning and was sleeping very hard when people came into my room andtold me about the nomination. It sunk in about 30 minutes ago but now I have toget back to work!"

Sarsgaard'snomination was one of five for Lions Gate Entertainment, along with Johanssonin Girl With A Pearl Earring, Alec Baldwin and Maria Bello for best supporting acting in TheCooler and AlexandreDesplat for the score to Girl With A Pearl Earring. "We are thrilled to receive a recordfive nominations and excited that all three of our awards season contendershave been recognised today," Lions Gate president Tom Ortenberg told Screen. "Icongratulate all our talent who have been nominated. It's also very satisfyingfor us because these three films represent all three business models that LionsGate operates: Shattered Glass was an in-house production, Girl With A Pearl Earring was co-financed and co-produced by usand Pathe and The Cooler was a festival acquisition."

Jim Sheridan andNaomi and Kirsten Sherdian were nominated for the In America screenplay,alongside Coppola for Lost In Translation, Brian Helgeland for Mystic River, Richard Curtis for Love Actually and Minghella for Cold Mountain.

In the foreignlanguage section Andrey Zvyagintsev's acclaimed family drama The Return won a nomination, alongside TheBarbarian Invasions(another Miramax title - the mini-major picked up 13 in all today), Goodbye,Lenin, MonsieurIbrahim and Osama. "It's a great honour to be recognisedby the HFPA because this film means so much to me," Zvyagintsev told Screen."The young actors were debutantes and behaved like professionals throughout:there was no method to the way I communicated with them - it was almost like ametaphysical connection. I am thrilled."

"We aredelighted to see that several titles from our broad international slate havepicked up nominations, including Cold Mountain [BVI has Italy, Germany, UK, Spain,Australia, New Zealand and Latin America], Master And Commander [Japan, Italy and Latin America] and Seabiscuit [half the world]," Buena VistaInternational president Mark Zoradi told Screen. "It has been one of thoseyears where the stars have aligned and we are going to enjoy this."

"I am very happy withtoday's nominations for Big Fishand Something's Gotta Give," AmyPascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman and chairman of the motionpicture group told Screen. "I really love these movies, they're not traditionaland it caps a great year for us with a great year to come in 2004."