French-directed silent film "The Artist," a tribute to the pre-"talkies" era, won six Golden Globe nominations Thursday to lead the field as Hollywood gears up for its annual awards season.
Tied for second were "The Help," about black servants in the pre-civil rights era US south, and "The Descendants" starring George Clooney, both nominated in five categories for the Globes, to be presented next month.
Other "A" listers nominated included Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep — and even Elton John and Madonna, in what one commentator said showed the Globes organizers’ desire to get celebrities on the red carpet.
But "The Artist" was the big winner, triggering elation from its French director Michel Hazanavicius.
"I feel like I have a big, stupid smile on my face. I made this movie out of desire, and never expected this sort of response," he told the Hollywood Reporter.
The Golden Globe winners will be announced on January 15, in a show hosted for a third time by provocative British comic Ricky Gervais, invited back despite allegedly ruffling feathers at last year’s show.
"The Artist" was nominated for categories including best comedy or music film, best comedy or music actor for Jean Dujardin, best director, and best supporting actress for Hazanavicius’s wife Berenice Bejo.
The movie — which tells the story of silent film star George Valentin (Dujardin) whose career is torpedoed by the arrival of speech — had already generated buzz after winning best film and best director at the New York Film Critics Circle two weeks ago.
"The Help" meanwhile won nominations for best drama picture, best actress for Viola Davis, best supporting actress for Jessica Chastain, and best song for "The Living Proof" sung by Mary J. Blige.
It was the second day of good news for "The Help," which scored four nods Wednesday for the Screen Actors Guild awards, which along with the Globes are seen as a key indicator to success in the all-important Oscars.
After six Globes nods for "The Artist" and five for "The Help" and "The Descendants," there were four each for Clooney-directed thriller "The Ides of March," Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris" and "Moneyball" starring Brad Pitt.
Notable absentees from the Globes shortlists were Terrence Malick’s critically acclaimed "The Tree of Life" — which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes — as well as Cold War thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
They could yet win gongs though: nominations for the Oscars are due to be announced on January 24, ahead of the 84th Academy Awards show — the climax of Hollywood’s awards season on February 26.