The searing historical epic "12 Years a Slave" and the con-artist caper "American Hustle" lead the 71st annual Golden Globes with seven nominations each.
The nominations announced Thursday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association suggested "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave" — one farcical and outlandish, the other grimly accurate — may be this year's Oscar favorites.
Hailed by critics as the movies' most unblinking portrait of slavery, "12 Years a Slave" verified its front-runner status with nominations including best film drama, Chiwetel Ejiofor for best actor in a drama, Steve McQueen for best director and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o for their supporting roles.
"American Hustle" dominated on the Globes' other category side: comedy or musical. The fictionalized story of the FBI's Abscam investigation in the late 1970s earned nominations for best movie comedy and David O. Russell for best director. Much of its starry cast received nominations, including lead actors Christian Bale and Amy Adams, as well as last year's Oscar darling, Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress.
Also in the mix are Alexander Payne's father-son road trip "Nebraska," with five nominations, including best actor for Bruce Dern. The space odyssey "Gravity" earned four nominations, as did the Somali pirate thriller "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks as the kidnapped cargo ship captain.
Alfonso Cuaron's innovative 3-D spectacle "Gravity," for which star Sandra Bullock received a best actress nomination, should be a bigger Oscar heavyweight at the Academy Awards, which honor technical categories that the Globes don't. With more than $630 million in worldwide box office, "Gravity" also figures to be the populist favorite.
This year's comedy competition — usually a mixed bag compared to the dramatic categories — could be the strongest field ever for the Globes. Aside from "American Hustle," the group includes Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," Spike Jonze's "Her" and the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis."