The recession-themed comedy-drama "Up in the Air" led Tuesday's Golden Globe nominations with six nods, including for best dramatic picture, one of several surprises from the dependably quirky Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestows the awards.

Other contenders in the best picture category were James Cameron's sci-fi film "Avatar," Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic "Inglorious Basterds," the Iraq war film "The Hurt Locker" and the gritty drama "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

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The nominee lists were read aloud by John Krasinski (NBC's "The Office"), Diane Kruger ("Inglourious Basterds") and singer Justin Timberlake early Tuesday morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Timberlake, breaking with the otherwise businesslike protocol, punctuated Emily Blunt's unexpected nod for best actress in the period drama "The Young Victoria" with the comment, "Somebody's gonna have a good night tonight," referring to his co-presenter Krasinski, who is engaged to Blunt.

Unlike the Oscars, the Globes divide movies into two categories: dramas, and comedies or musicals. Though generally considered a comedy, "Up in the Air," about a freewheeling businessman (George Clooney) who fires people for a living, landed in the more prestigious drama category and earned nominations for Jason Reitman's direction and screenplay, and for Clooney as best actor and Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick as best supporting actresses.

Coming in second with five nominations was the musical "Nine," which earned acting nods for Daniel Day-Lewis as a womanizing film director and Marion Cotillard as his long-suffering wife. Penélope Cruz, playing his mistress, was nominated for supporting actress. "Nine" is also up for best musical and original song ("Cinema Italiano," sung by Kate Hudson).

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Sandra Bullock earned two nominations as best dramatic actress for the sports movie "The Blind Side" and best comedic actress for "The Proposal." In that category, she will compete against double-nominee Meryl Streep for her turns as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia" and a divorced woman in the upcoming romance "It's Complicated."

In her first-ever film, Gabourey Sidibe entered the best dramatic actress race for "Precious," in which she plays an obese teenager impregnated by her father. Her competition includes another newcomer, Carey Mulligan (as a naive schoolgirl in "An Education"), and Helen Mirren playing Tolstoy's wife in "The Last Station."

For best dramatic actor, Clooney will contend with critically acclaimed performances by Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country star in "Crazy Heart," Colin Firth as a gay college professor in "A Single Man," Tobey Maguire as a traumatized Marine in "Brothers" and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in "Invictus," a film that also earned Eastwood a nomination for best director.

Among the television awards, "Glee" racked up four nominations, outpacing the three nominations of the usual favorite, "30 Rock." Both are up for best comedy series. The best dramatic series race includes the much-lauded "Mad Men," the serial-killer crime show "Dexter," the Hugh Laurie-driven "House" and two HBO productions, "Big Love" and "True Blood."

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