The speculation over who is going to be nominated for the Golden Globes has finally ended. Now the speculation over who is going to win can begin.

Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association released their list of nominees earlier today (you can view the full rundown here) and it's fair to say that in the two Best Actor categories it's still anybody's game as there are no clear front-runners and enough dark horses to pull a Budweiser beer wagon. But before we start getting thirsty, let's jump right in and break down the nominations, starting with the heavyweights: Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama. The speculation over who is going to be nominated for the Golden Globes has finally ended. Now the speculation over who is going to win can begin.

Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association released their list of nominees earlier today (you can view the full rundown here) and it's fair to say that in the two Best Actor categories it's still anybody's game as there are no clear front-runners and enough dark horses to pull a Budweiser beer wagon. But before we start getting thirsty, let's jump right in and break down the nominations, starting with the heavyweights ...


BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA

Headlining the nominations is perennial favorite and six-time Golden Globe nominee George Clooney, who previously won the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical in 2001 for 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' A win for this year's 'Up in the Air,' therefore, would give Clooney victories in both the comedy and drama categories and would be further proof that the versatile and personable Clooney is the pre-eminent movie star of his generation.

The fact that he's not a mortal lock to win can be attributed almost entirely to the presence of Jeff Bridges in the category. The Dude, who sports three Golden Globe noms in his career without a win, is riding a wave of critical acclaim for his role as a beleaguered country singer in 'Crazy Heart,' which has already landed him top honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Online, as well as a nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. We're not sure enough actual people have seen or will see the movie to put Bridges over the top, but if anyone is going to take down Clooney, it's likely to be Bridges.

Of course, this is more than a two-man race and the third man in the fight this time around happens to be reigning dean emeritus of the acting world Morgan Freeman. Freeman, who previously won a Golden Globe for 'Driving Miss Daisy,' is up this time for Clint Eastwood's apartheid sports flick 'Invictus.' While the film has been getting generally positive reviews, the fact that it was snubbed for the Best Picture category may hurt Freeman's chances of riding a wave to victory.

In a similar situation is 'A Single Man' lead Colin Firth, who has been getting rave reviews for his turn in Tom Ford's period portrait of gay life in the early 60's. In some ways, though, Firth may benefit more than Freeman from his film being left out, as it further strengthens the view of some critics that Firth's acting carried an otherwise languid effort.

Tobey Maguire landed a nom for 'Brothers.' We're happy for the 'Spider-man' star, because The Golden Globes look like a really fun party. Heck, we have fun just watching it on television. Enjoying the ceremony isn't the only thing we have in common with Maguire, though -- we're also just as likely to win this award.

Drama is only one half of the puzzle, of course, as the Golden Globes also have a whole separate batch of nominations for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. So rather than dwell on those actors who got snubbed in the Drama category (no Viggo Mortensen? Dude.) let's jump right into the funny pile and break down the likely winners, losers and wannabes from the other side of the tracks.

BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Name recognition is likely to play a major role this year in the Comedy or Musical category as most of the films involved either haven't been released yet ('Nine,' 'Sherlock Holmes') or were seen by only a small fraction of the movie going populace ('The Informant!,' '(500) Days of Summer,' 'A Serious Man'). That gives the early edge to the two biggest stars in the field, Matt Damon and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Of the two, we give the slight edge to Damon for his role as a goofy schlub trying to become James Bond in 'The Informant!' While Day-Lewis will get some props for trying his hand (and throat) in a musical that also has the added benefit of being an inside-Hollywood storyline (being a film version of a stage version of the classic film '8 1/2'), we're guessing many voters will see this as less worthy than some of Day-Lewis's recent high-profile gigs such as 'There Will Be Blood.'

It could be argued that Robert Downey, Jr. is just as big a name as Damon or Day-Lweis, and he's certainly been on a roll over the past two years. However, 'Sherlock Holmes' suffers slightly from the dual facts that the film hasn't been released yet and those who have seen it may not view it as a comedy; there was some debate leading into the awards just what categories the action film would be eligible for.

While those factors may hamper Downey's chances, they don't apply to fellow contender Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who instead has to deal with the fact that his breakout film role took place in an acclaimed indie ('(500) Days of Summer'). That's good news for increasing his name recognition, of course, but it also means that some in the industry will view the nomination as reward enough and give their votes to more seasoned actors who may be seen as having already paid their dues with previous nomination losses.

Michael Stuhlbarg gained rave reviews for his turn in 'A Serious Man.' It's a pity, then, that nobody has ever heard of him before. Plus, there may be some confusion over the film itself, with casual voters possibly mixing up the Coen Brothers film 'A Serious Man' with Ford's drama 'A Single Man.' It sounds silly, but when you're bombarded with ads and comp DVDs for dozens of possible nominations, as many voters are this time of year (even Hollywood Foreign Press members) these things can happen.

Now, if Stuhlbarg and Firth had both appeared in the gay dramedy 'A Seriously Single Man,' then we'd really have something.