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.

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards Nominations (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The nominations announced Thursday morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association suggested "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave" 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 and Steve McQueen for best director.

"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, Christian Bale for best actor in a comedy, Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress in a comedy and David O. Russell for best director.

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."


(L-R) Actors Zoe Saldana, Aziz Ansari and Olivia Wilde react onstage at the 71st Golden Globe Awards Nominations Announcement at The Beverly Hilton Hotel (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

This year's comedy competition 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."

The last film of 2013 to screen, Scorsese's three-hour financial industry extravaganza had been one of the biggest question marks this awards season. Along with the best picture nomination, it earned one for Leonardo DiCaprio's leading performance.

Along with "12 Years a Slave," the dramatic best picture category was rounded out by "Captain Phillips," ''Gravity," ''Philomena" and "Rush." Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," which also received a nomination for Sandra Bullock, will surely benefit more from the Academy Awards' technical categories, which the Globes don't honor.

Most notably shutout was "Lee Daniels' The Butler," the Civil Rights history told through a long-serving White House butler played by Forest Whitaker.

The awards and their boozy telecast are known for a desire to attract stars, even if their films aren't quite up to snuff. (It will be a long time before the HFPA lives down its nominations for Johnny Depp's "The Tourist.") This year's ceremony on Jan. 12 will again be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Last year's telecast saw a bump in viewership to 19.7 million.

The last two years, one of the Globes' best-picture winners went on to top the Academy Awards. Last year, the Globes awarded Ben Affleck's "Argo" best picture for drama. The year before that, the silent film ode "The Artist" won best picture for a comedy.

Nominees for the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards

Best Motion Picture — Drama
’12 Years a Slave’
‘Captain Phillips’

Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
‘American Hustle’
‘Inside Llewyn Davis
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’
Paul Greengrass, ‘Captain Phillips’
Steve McQueen, ’12 Years a Slave’
Alexander Payne, ‘Nebraska’
David O. Russell, ‘American Hustle’

Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, ’12 Years a Slave’
Idris Elba, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
Tom Hanks, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’
Matthew McConaughey, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Robert Redford, ‘All is Lost’

Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale, ‘American Hustle’
Bruce Dern, ‘Nebraska’
Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
Oscar Isaac, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
Joaquin Phoenix, ‘Her’

Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama
Cate Blanchett, ‘Blue Jasmine’
Sandra Bullock, ‘Gravity’
Judi Dench, ‘Philomena’
Emma Thompson, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’
Kate Winslet, ‘Labor Day’

Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, ‘American Hustle’
Julie Delpy, ‘Before Midnight’
Greta Gerwig, ‘Frances Ha’
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘Enough Said’
Meryl Streep, ‘August: Osage County’

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Barkhad Abdi, ‘Captain Phillips’
Daniel Bruhl, ‘Rush’
Bradley Cooper, ‘American Hustle’
Michael Fassbender, ’12 Years a Slave’
Jared Leto, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Sally Hawkins, ‘Blue Jasmine’
Jennifer Lawrence, ‘American Hustle’
Lupita Nyong’o, ’12 Years a Slave’
Julia Roberts, ‘August: Osage County’
June Squibb, ‘Nebraska’

Best Screenplay from a Motion Picture
Spike Jonze, ‘Her’
Bob Nelson, ‘Nebraska’
Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, ‘Philomena’
John Ridley, ’12 Years a Slave’
Eric Warren and David O. Russell, ‘American Hustle’

Best Original Score from a Motion Picture
Alex Ebert, ‘All is Lost’
Alex Heffes, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
Steven Price, ‘Gravity’
John Williams, ‘The Book Thief’
Hans Zimmer, ’12 Years a Slave’

Best Original Song from a Motion Picture
“Atlas,” ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’
“Let It Go,” Frozen
“Ordinary Love,” ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
“Please Mr. Kennedy,” ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
“Sweeter Than Fiction,” ‘One Chance’

Best Foreign Language Film
‘Blue is the Warmest Color’
‘The Great Beauty’
‘The Hunt’
‘The Past’
‘The Wind Rises’

Best Animated Feature Film
‘The Croods’
‘Despicable Me 2′

Best Television Drama Series
‘Breaking Bad’
‘Downton Abbey’
‘The Good Wife’
‘House of Cards’
‘Masters of Sex’

Best Television Comedy Series
‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’
‘The Big Bang Theory’
‘Parks and Recreation’
‘Modern Family’

Best Actor in a Television Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, ‘Breaking Bad’
Liev Schrieber, ‘Ray Donovan’
Michael Sheen, ‘Masters of Sex’
Kevin Spacey, ‘House of Cards’
James Spader, ‘The Blacklist’

Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series
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’

Best Actress in a Television Drama Series
Julianna Margulies, ‘The Good Wife’
Tatiana Maslany, ‘Orphan Black’
Taylor Schilling, ‘Orange is the New Black’
Kerry Washington, ‘Scandal’
Robin Wright, ‘House of Cards’

Best Actress in a Television Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel, ‘The New Girl’
Lena Dunham, ‘Girls’
Edie Falco, ‘Nurse Jackie’
Julie Louis-Dreyfus, ‘Veep’
Amy Poehler, ‘Parks and Recreation’

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television
‘American Horror Story: Coven’
‘Behind the Candelabra’
‘Dancing on the Edge’
‘Top of the Lake’
‘The White Queen’

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television
Matt Damon, ‘Behind the Candelabra’
Michael Douglas, ‘Behind the Candelabra’
Idris Elba, ‘Luther’
Chiwetel Ejiofor, ‘Dancing on the Edge’
Al Pacino, ‘Phil Spector’

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television
Helena Bonham Carter, ‘Burton and Taylor’
Rebecca Ferguson, ‘The White Queen’
Jessica Lange, ‘American Horror Story: Coven’
Helen Mirren, ‘Phil Spector’
Elisabeth Moss, ‘Top of the Lake’

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television
Josh Charles, ‘The Good Wife’
Rob Lowe, ‘Behind the Candelabra’
Aaron Paul, ‘Breaking Bad’
Corey Stoll, ‘House of Cards’
Jon Voight, ‘Ray Donovan’

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television
Jacqueline Bisset, ‘Dancing on the Edge’
Janet McTeer, ‘The White Queen’
Hayden Panettiere, ‘Nashville’
Monica Potter, ‘Parenthood’
Sofia Vergara, ‘Modern Family’

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)