Presidential drama Lincoln has topped the Golden Globes nominations with nods in seven categories, followed by Argo and Django Unchained with five each.
Les Miserables, romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook and Osama bin Laden hunt movie Zero Dark Thirty were tied in third place with four nominations each.
The announcements come as Hollywood's annual awards season kicks into gear, a day after the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations, in which Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook were joint leaders.
After a US presidential election year, Steven Spielberg will be hoping to fare better with Lincoln than he did with last year's epic War Horse, which was nominated for six Oscars and two Globes but went home empty-handed.
In the best drama category for this year's Globes, Spielberg is up against Iran hostage crisis thriller Argo, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Life of Pi by Ang Lee and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.
Best comedy or musical nominees are Indian-themed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen starring Ewan McGregor
In the running for best actor are Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, Denzel Washington for piloting Flight, Richard Gere for Arbitrage, John Hawkes for The Sessions and Joaquin Phoenix for The Master.
Jessica Chastain is shortlisted in Zero Dark Thirty, up against Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone, Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea.
Best comedy/music actor nods went to Jack Black for Bernie, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Hugh Jackman for Les Mis, McGregor for Salmon Fishing and Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson.
Three British actresses are shortlisted for best comedy or musical turns: Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing, Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Maggie Smith for Quartet.
Meryl Streep is up this year for Hope Springs, as well as Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook.
On the small screen, Downton Abbey was nominated for best drama, against Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland and The Newsroom.
Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire won a nod for best actor in a TV drama, along with Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom, Jon Hamm for Mad Men and Damian Lewis of Homeland.
Lewis' co-star Claire Danes is up for best actress in a drama, against Connie Britton of Nashville, Glenn Close for Damages, Michelle Dockery for Downton Abbey and Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife.
The Globes will be hosted on January 13 by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.