An unflinching look at slavery in America and a story about 1970s con men dominated the Golden Globes nominations Thursday morning, with "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" earning seven nods apiece, including best picture, best director and a slew of acting nominations.
The nominations help catapult both films to solid front-runner status on the road to the coveted best picture Oscar, as well as Academy Awards for filmmakers Steve McQueen and David O. Russell, and actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper.
The nominations, considered a top indicator of Oscar gold, were an especially strong showing for "12 Years A Slave": The harrowing historical drama was also the most honored film Wednesday when the Screen Actors Guild announced its awards season favorites.
That film will compete against "Captain Phillips," "Gravity," "Philomena" and "Rush" in the best dramatic film category. "American Hustle" will vie with "Her," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" for best musical or comedy category.
Joining Ejiofor in the best actor in a drama category are Idris Elba for "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Tom Hanks for "Captain Phillips," Matthew McConaughey for "Dallas Buyers Club" and Robert Redford for "All Is Lost." (The 77-year-old Redford was a surprise omission at Wednesday's SAG nominations.)
The nominees for best actress in a drama are Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine," Sandra Bullock for "Gravity," Emma Thompson for "Saving Mr. Banks," Judi Dench for "Philomena" and Kate Winslet -- considered an HFPA favorite -- for "Labor Day."
Competing with "American Hustle's" Bale in the best actor in a comedy or musical category are Bruce Dern for "Nebraska," Oscar Isaac for "Inside Llewyn Davis," Joaquin Phoenix for "Her" and another HFPA fave, Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Wolf of Wall Street."
The nominees for best actress in a comedy or musical are Adams for "American Hustle," Julie Delpy for "Before Midnight," Greta Gerwig for "Frances Ha," Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "Enough Said" and Meryl Streep for "August: Osage County."
In the directing category, McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") and Russell ("American Hustle") will compete with Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity," Paul Greengrass for "Captain Phillips" and Alexander Payne for "Nebraska."
Noticeably missing from the best dramatic films nominations was "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which had a strong showing when the Screen Actors Guild announced its nominations.
However, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. did make room for the unexpected inclusion of Ron Howard's race car drama "Rush." While it earned positive reviews, it has not been considered much of a contender for best dramatic film of the year.
The Golden Globe nominations divide best film nominees and lead actors and actresses into two categories: best drama, and best comedy or musical. The Globes also honor television.
In fact, several of the film acting nominees also earned television acting nominations. Ejiofor was also nominated for his role in the miniseries "Dancing on the Edge." Elba also earned a nomination for his miniseries "Luther."
And Louis-Dreyfus, who was nominated for best actress for her role in the comedy "Enough Said," also earned a nod for her TV role in "Veep."
On the TV side, the dramatic series "House of Cards" and the movie "Behind the Candelabra" dominated the nominations with four apiece. "Breaking Bad," which recently ended its run, scored three nominations, as did "The Good Wife" and two miniseries: "Dancing on the Edge" and "The White Queen."
TV newcomers "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Masters of Sex," "Orange is the New Black" and "Orphan Black" were also recognized with nominations.
The Golden Globes awards show will be held Jan. 12 in Beverly Hills. Woody Allen was previously announced as the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award to be given out that evening. But the Los Angeles-shy filmmaker won't be in attendance. Instead, Diane Keaton, whom he directed to a lead actress Oscar for "Annie Hall," will accept the award on his behalf.
NBC will air the Golden Globe Awards live with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning for the second year in a row as hosts.
For complete coverage, go to latimes.com/envelope.