"12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" emerged as movie-awards frontrunners Thursday, as each picked up seven Golden Globes nominations, including best-picture nods in their respective categories, just a day after being nominated for top prizes from Hollywood's acting guild.
The twin triumphs set up a possible showdown between two very different films, one about an enslaved man's fight for survival, the other about East Coast scammers conning just about everyone in the disco era.
But the two films are surrounded by an unusually strong field of contenders, some earnest and some comically arch.
Along with "12 Years a Slave," "Captain Phillips," "Gravity," "Philomena" and "Rush" were nominated in the best-drama category by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. "Rush" was a surprise, having received a mixed reaction from the audience and critics; also surprising was a snub for "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which received no nominations at all.
Along with "American Hustle," the best-musical or -comedy nominees were "Her," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Though it has sometimes been a dumping ground for films with no real Oscar prospects (awards aficionados are still scratching their heads over the nomination of "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" last year), the musical-comedy category became fiercely contested this time around. That happened as studios looked for an edge over heavy dramas such as "12 Years a Slave" or "Gravity," about disaster in space, by pushing the comic aspects of bittersweet films such as "Nebraska" and "Inside Llewyn Davis."
The strategy worked nicely for Paramount, which wound up with five nominations for its relatively small comedy-drama "Nebraska," and successfully put Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" into the awards-season mix.
Prospects for Scorsese's film had been an open question. It had been delivered late, is almost three hours long and was snubbed entirely by the Screen Actors Guild in its nominations Wednesday.
Among those with much to gain from a win at the Globes banquet is Bruce Dern, the long-overlooked 77-year-old star of "Nebraska," who was nominated as best actor in a comedy or musical.
Robert Redford, who is also 77 and has never won an acting Oscar, on Thursday received a Globes nomination for his work in "All Is Lost," about a struggle to survive at sea. Redford had been seen as a leader in the Oscar race, but he now has a claim to underdog status since being snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild.
Disney's making-of "Mary Poppins" tale "Saving Mr. Banks" fared poorly Thursday, earning only a nomination for Emma Thompson's lead performance as "Poppins" author P.L. Travers. The HIV drama "Dallas Buyers Club" received only the expected nominations for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Steven Soderbergh's Liberace drama "Behind the Candelabra" on HBO earned four nominations to tie with Netflix's political thriller "House of Cards" and lead the TV category.
Top film categories
Drama: "12 Years a Slave," "Captain Phillips," "Gravity," "Philomena," "Rush."
Musical or comedy: "American Hustle," "Her," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska," "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Actor, drama: Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"; Idris Elba, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"; Tom Hanks, "Captain Phillips"; Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"; Robert Redford, "All Is Lost."
Animated: "The Croods," "Despicable Me 2," "Frozen."
Top TV categories
Series, drama: "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "The Good Wife," "House of Cards," "Masters of Sex."
Series, musical or comedy: "The Big Bang Theory," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Girls," "Modern Family," "Parks and Recreation."
Actor, musical or comedy: Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development"; Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"; Michael J. Fox, "The Michael J. Fox Show"; Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"; Andy Samberg, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
Miniseries or movie: "American Horror Story: Coven," "Behind the Candelabra," "Dancing on the Edge," "Top of the Lake," "White Queen."