The Golden Globe nominations have just been released and this year’s list is full of surprises and upsets, standout performances and indie comebacks. In the category of Best Motion Picture—Drama, David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Stephen Daldry’s The Reader all picked up nods with each director also picking up nominations for Best Director—Motion Picture.

While Gus Van Sant’s Milk didn’t make the list, the movie’s star, Sean Penn, picked up a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama, going up against the likes of Frank Langella for his performance in Frost/Nixon, Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road and Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But it may be Mickey Rourke’s role in The Wrestler that makes the actor the underdog everyone’s cheering for in this category. Likewise, in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Drama, the nominations have some industry veterans going up against some new blood. With Meryl Streep (Doubt), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime) all up for the award, it’s Anne Hathaway’s nomination that proves her performance in Rachel Getting Married was worth all the buzz.

The category of Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy is a mixed bag of commercial blockbusters and indies with Burn After Reading and Mamma Mia up against Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And while the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy included standouts like Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey), both Colin Farrell and James Gleeson (In Bruges) as well as James Franco (Pineapple Express), it was the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role—Motion Picture that has some of the biggest surprises. Both Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. were nominated for the big laughs they received in Tropic Thunder and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and Ralph Fiennes (The Duchess) grabbed nods for their stellar performances. But the reason everyone will be watching this category is the late Heath Ledger, whose role in The Dark Knight might just trump the other nominees.

Meryl Streep proves she can do it all, grabbing another nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy and putting her up against Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading), Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Kate Winslet is also on double duty, getting a nomination in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her role in The Reader. But with some great performances from Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Maris Tomei (The Wrestler), and (MovieMaker cover-girl) Amy Adams (Doubt), it’s anyone’s category.

In the category of Best Screenplay—Motion Picture, the question over who can adapt a play, short story or novel the best is being put to the test with Eric Roth and Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt), Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), David Hare (The Reader), and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) up against one another.

Nevertheless, one thing is certain: Even if you just tune in to see which movie (Bolt, Kung Fu Panda, WALL-E) wins Best Animated Feature, this year’s Golden Globes will definitely be an exciting night honoring some great moviemaking.