The Oscars are the film industry's big laurels, and the Emmys play a parallel role for TV. And then there are the Golden Globes--awards that are continually asked to explain and defend their relevance. Yet the awards still command the attention of entertainment writers, primarily because the televised ceremony is notoriously booze-fueled and consequently strange. (Not to mention the odd fact that due to a cancellation, the 2009 ceremony is set for January 2010). On Wednesday, even the announcement of the award nominees took many off guard. Here are the six biggest shockers to critics:

  • Meryl Streep vs. Meryl Streep The Independent's Geoffrey MacNab fails to see why Meryl Streep deserved dual nominations for "Julie & Julia," and "It's Complicated" in the category Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy: "Another mystery is how the estimable, but highly erratic, Meryl Streep keeps on accruing nominations, even when she gives ludicrously hammy performances (for example, as a pantomime dame-like Julia Child in Julie and Julia). Streep-ophilia is, however, a tendency shared by [Golden Globe] and Oscar voters alike." MTV's Josh Wigler has an answer: "'The obvious question is, of course, how does Streep keep getting these accolades? Given the actress's well-established fan base consisting of mainstream moviegoers and cinematic contemporaries alike, it's really not hard to see why -- Streep is one of those rare performers who never plays herself and always creates a captivating character. Yes, even in 'The River Wild.'"
  • Sandra Bullock Is Back Also twice-nominated, Sandra Bullock had something of a comeback this year as the lead in blockbuster sports-drama "The Blind Side." She won a nomination for Best Actress in a Drama.  More unexpectedly, Bullock is also up for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for "The Proposal," a romantic comedy many called formulaic. Bullock isn't the only one bowled-over by the announcement: As The Examiner's Kevin Fallon asserts: "If there's one person who should be thrilled, it's Sandra Bullock who managed a nod in both the Best Actress Comedy and Drama categories for her performances in The Proposal and The Blind Side, respectively. This caps off a banner year for the actress. The Proposal grossed $160 million at the box office, and The Blind Side already has a tally of $150 million and counting. For an actress that many started to count out...this is big news."
  • Freshman 'Glee' Schools the Competition As the LA Times's Show Tracker blog put it "there is no one more surprised to see 'Glee' lead TV's Golden Globe nominations than the show's creator-executive producer Ryan Murphy." But luckily for him and the cast, the musical high-school comedy was a ratings snowball and a critical darling--which may help to explain its 4 nominations. Meanwhile, True/Slant's Brian Donovan takes issue with one in particular, lead Matthew Morrison's nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical: "Glee is fun and all, but Matthew Morrison makes me want to kill myself. He's cheesy, preposterously earnest, and, in general, a curly-haired cartoon. Tracy Morgan deserves to be here. Sure he's playing himself, but himself happens to be consistently hilarious. And how about Ed O'Neill in Modern Family? Even Al Bundy would love his lovable curmudgeon-liness."
  • District 9 Was Well-Written MSN Entertainment writer Ben Carrozza is delighted that "District 9," a gory summer special effects blockbuster with a small budget and a no-name cast got the nod for Best Screenplay: "Co-screenwriter/director Neill Blomkamp and Canadian Terri Tatchell's smart little-sci-fi-movie-that-could was, next to "The Hangover," the sleeper hit of the summer - and it's nice to see it get its due. It's too bad excellent lead actor Sharlto Copley didn't sneak in a nomination, too. Then again, his buzz-worthy turn here landed him a role as 'Howling Mad' Murdock in the upcoming 'A-Team' remake."
  • Americans Rule the Arts Commenting for the British newspaper The Guardian, Adam Dawtrey describes the disappointment that greeted UK filmmakers this year: "It's the first year since 1990 without a single British film among the 10 candidates for best drama or best musical/comedy. Whether that reflects a weakness in British cinema, or a shift in American tastes and distribution patterns, is a matter for debate. But given that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes, usually has an anglophile bias, it doesn't bode well for the rest of awards season. The only consolation is that the Globes have a patchy record of predicting the Oscars." Meanwhile, At Australian rag The Age, John Horn expresses a similar sentiment on behalf of Hollywood's numerous Australian actors: "The road to the Oscars has become rocky for Australia's great hopes Nicole Kidman, Abbie Cornish and John Hillcoat, with the trio missing out on Golden Globe nominations."
  • ...But a Bawdy Brit Will Host Although announced prior to the list of film nominees, even Gawker was taken aback that the Golden Globes would be getting a master-of-ceremonies for the the first time in 15 years: Ricky Gervais, the the British comedy genius behind the original "Office" TV show and "Extras." Gervais promised, in good Globes tradition, to show up to his gig drunk and unrehearsed. As Richard Rushfield cooed: "We're struggling for the term for the opposite of trainwreck...or when something is so complete and perfect a trainwreck that it becomes brilliant. Well, that's what the Gervais-helmed has the potential to be."