US Civil War-era drama "Lincoln" led the Golden Globe nominations with seven nods including best drama, best director for Steven Spielberg, and best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.
Following the film among top nominees for the Hollywood awards were Iran hostage drama "Argo" and Quentin Tarantino's slavery-era Western "Django Unchained" with five nods each.
The best drama nominees were rounded out by thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" about the hunt for Osama bin Laden with four mentions, and shipwreck tale "Life of Pi," with three.
"Les Miserables," the movie version of the worldwide hit stage musical, earned four Golden Globe nominations in the comedy and musical category, along with "Silver Linings Playbook" about an unlikely romance between a man suffering from bipolar disorder and a young widow.
The stars of both films - Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables," and Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings Playbook," - will be among those competing for acting awards.
Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," British senior comedy "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," and comedy romance "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," rounded out the comedy and musical best picture race.
The Golden Globe Awards, which will be given out by about 80 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) on January 13, are among the most widely watched honors programs leading up to the Oscars in February.
Unlike the Academy Awards, the HFPA has separate categories for film dramas and comedies, opening the door to sometimes overlooked movies and performances in Hollywood's awards season.
Among movie dramas, Jessica Chastain's CIA agent in "Zero Dark Thirty" will square off against Helen Mirren in "Hitchcock," British actress Rachel Weisz in period drama "The Deep Blue Sea," France's Marion Cotillard for "Rust and Bone" and Naomi Watts in tsunami survival tale "The Impossible.
Day-Lewis's towering performance as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln will compete against Denzel Washington's alcoholic airline pilot in "Flight," Richard Gere's role as a corrupt financial executive in "Arbitrage," John Hawkes as a severely disabled man in "The Sessions" and Joaquin Phoenix's drifter in cult tale "The Master."
The Golden Globes also honor the year's best TV shows. "Game Change," the HBO film about Sarah Palin's 2008 bid to become U.S. vice-president, led the nominations with five, followed by the post-September 11 attacks psychological thriller "Homeland" with four.