November 13, 2008 at 11:33 PM EST

One of the main reasons the Golden Globes are so much livelier than the Oscars is the Globes’ inclusion of categories for Best Actor and Actress in a Musical or Comedy. Usually the Best Actor in a Comedy race includes at least one major Oscar contender (think Sweeney Todd‘s Johnny Depp, Ray‘s Jamie Foxx, or Lost in Translation‘s Bill Murray), while the Best Actress in a Comedy lineup sometimes seems like a stretch (um, Goldie Hawn for The Banger Sisters?). But this year it’s the opposite: With Mamma Mia‘s Meryl Streep, Last Chance Harvey‘s Emma Thompson, Happy-Go-Lucky‘s Sally Hawkins, and Sex and the City‘s Sarah Jessica Parker all in the mix, the comedic Best Actress roster is strong, while there’s a notable dearth of musical men or funny fellas. I’m told Josh Brolin’s reps pushed for a comedic placement for W. but were denied, so he’ll be considered in the Best Actor in a Drama category instead. And word is that Robert Downey, Jr.’s camp wanted to push for a Best Actor nomination for Tropic Thunder (followed by a supporting campaign at the Oscars) but were overruled by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who decided to include him on their supporting-actor list.

So who might end up making the cut for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy? Certainly Dustin Hoffman, who’s so touching in Last Chance Harvey. I’d also make the case for Paul Rudd, who anchors the current hit Role Models with his signature deadpan delivery, and Ghost Town‘s Ricky Gervais, who was brilliant in a sophisticated comedy that nobody saw. The HFPA could go the more obvious route with Get Smart‘s Steve Carell or Hancock‘s Will Smith, but here’s hoping they’ll think out of the box and recognize another understated humorist: Michael Cera from Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. We can dream, right?

addCredit(“Gregg DeGuire/WireImage”)

Here are a few of my video interviews with Rudd, Cera, and Gervais:

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