(CNN) -- Perhaps what was most striking about Thursday's nominations for the 66th annual Golden Globes wasn't what received a nomination, but what didn't.
The late Heath Ledger plays the Joker in "The Dark Knight," the No. 1 box-office hit of the year.
Yes, three heavyweights -- "Doubt," "Frost/Nixon" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" -- led the nominees with five nods each, but each film had at least one snub.
"Doubt" received recognition for all four of its main actors -- Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis -- but none for either best director or best drama. "Frost/Nixon" earned a nomination for Nixon (Frank Langella) but not Frost (Michael Sheen). And "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" received a nod for just one cast member -- star Brad Pitt. Cate Blanchett, who plays Pitt's love interest, was shut out.
In other cases, performers were nominated, but their films didn't make the Globes' short list. See the list of Globe nominations
"Milk's" Sean Penn received a best actor nomination, but the film -- which the New York Film Critics Circle named the year's best -- was shut out of the best director and best drama categories.
Both Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. earned supporting actor nominations for "Tropic Thunder," but the film itself couldn't find its way onto the best comedy or musical list. "Gran Torino," the just-out Clint Eastwood flick that's again earning the director critical plaudits, received its sole nomination for best song, which he co-wrote. Neither it nor the director's "Changeling" found a slot on the best drama or director lists. (Eastwood also received a nomination for his "Changeling" score.)
And "The Dark Knight," the year's top box-office success and the runner-up for best picture among the Los Angeles Film Critics, earned just one nomination, a supporting actor nod for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. iReport.com: Share your reaction to the Golden Globe nominations
Then again, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Globes, showed some love toward movies that the public generally overlooked.
"In Bruges," a comedy that received mixed reviews and had a quiet box-office run in late winter, earned nominations for best comedy or musical and actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. And Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" cleaned up -- the film picked up nominations for best comedy or musical and its stars Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz.
Allen, however, didn't get a nomination for either screenplay or director.
"Last Chance Harvey," a film that will receive limited release in the U.S. on Christmas Day, scored nominations for stars Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.
The nominees for best drama are "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road" and "Slumdog Millionaire."
The nominees for best comedy or musical are "Burn After Reading," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "In Bruges," "Mamma Mia!" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
"Wall-E," "Bolt" and "Kung Fu Panda" earned nominations for best animated film.
The nominees were pleased to hear their names.
"I am very grateful for this recognition. My collaboration with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer was one of the best experiences of my career," said Langella in a statement.
Heath Ledger's father said the family was touched by the nomination for Ledger. The actor died in January, before "Dark Knight" was released.
"This nomination is deeply appreciated and is not lost on those of us who continue to love and miss him," Kim Ledger told People magazine in a statement. "We are so proud our boy's work is being recognized in this way."
The Globes are generally seen as an Oscar harbinger, though the foreign press group's track record is far from perfect. Last year, "Atonement" took home the organization's best drama honor, while "No Country for Old Men" won the Academy Award for best picture.
The Globes did mostly match the Oscars when it came to performers, giving Globes to Daniel Day Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), Bardem ("No Country for Old Men") and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"). It should be pointed out that, with categories for both dramas and comedy/musicals, the Globes give out twice as many honors for lead performers as the Oscars.
The Globes also hand out awards for TV series. Nominees for best comedy series are "30 Rock," "Californication," "Entourage," "The Office" and "Weeds."
Nominees for best drama series are "Dexter," "House," "In Treatment," "Mad Men" and "True Blood."
Last year's awards were canceled after celebrities said they would boycott the show, due to a strike by the Writers Guild of America. Instead, winners were announced at a press conference.
Despite continued labor unrest -- this time focused on actors -- the Globes are expected to go off as scheduled. The awards will be presented on January 11. The show will air on NBC.
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