The nominees for the 2006 Golden Globe Awards were announced from Hollywood yesterday and, as predicted, it was the year to be gay in Hollywood as gay films, performances and actors dominated the nominations.

The critically championed Brokeback Mountain scored seven nominations, the most of any film, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Screenplay and a Best Director nod for Ang Lee.

Heath Ledger was nominated for Best Actor as tortured hero Ennis Del Mar and his real life wife Michelle Williams, with whom he just had a baby, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Ennis’ long-suffering wife Alma.

TransAmerica, one of the first films out of the gate for The Weinstein Co., the newly formed studio by former Miramax chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein, scored two nominations. Felicity Huffman will compete for Best Actress as transgender mom Bree and Dolly Parton scored a Best Original Song nomination for “Travelin’ Thru.”

Huffman was also nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy on television for Desperate Housewives, opposite co-stars Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and first time nominee Eva Longoria.

And Philip Seymour Hoffman snagged a Best Actor nomination for his role as openly gay author Truman Capote in Capote. Though the film failed to score any other major nominations (it was a frontrunner for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress nods), Hoffman had long been considered a shoo-in for a nomination.

The film adaptation of Rent, the award season’s other gay entry, failed to score a nomination despite critically acclaimed performances by Rosario Dawson as HIV-positive junkie Mimi and Jesse L. Martin as the openly gay Collins, who loses his lover Angel to AIDS.

Reviews of the film were mixed, with most critics praising the performances but questioning the direction of Chris Columbus and his decision to set the play in 1989, a full five years before it was written.

Openly gay actor Nathan Lane scored a nomination for The Producers, reprising his role as a down on his luck Broadway producer for the film adaptation of the Tony winning musical. The film also scored a Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy nomination.

As usual, this year’s nominees offered a few surprises. Peter Jackson’s King Kong scored the director a nomination but, despite being one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, failed to snag nods for acting or in the Best Picture category.

Similarly, a number of critically acclaimed performances were missing from the nominee list. Most notably, Joan Allen’s tour-de-force as a woman scorned on the verge of a nervous breakdown in The Upside of Anger was passed over, likely because it was released too early in the year.

Uma Thurman in The Producers, Sandra Bullock and Thandie Newton in Crash and Naomi Watts in King Kong were passed over for nods. Instead, Gwyneth Paltrow proved an unlikely nominee in the Best Actress category for the Miramax flop Proof.

Among the actors, a year crowded by critically acclaimed performances couldn’t find room for Munich star Eric Bana, A History of Violence’s Viggo Mortensen or Brokeback Mountain’s Jake Gyllenhaal.

Also surprising was some last minute category shuffling. Maria Bello, doing the best work of her career in A History of Violence, jumped from the Best Supporting Actress category to score a Best Actress nod while George Clooney, in what is essentially a leading role, was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for Syriana.