BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Silent film is taking over Hollywood's awards scene. The silent-era tale "The Artist" heads the Golden Globes with six nominations, among them best comedy or musical, and acting honors for its French stars, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.
Tied for second-place with five nominations Thursday are the 1960s racial tale "The Help" and George Clooney's Hawaiian family story "The Descendants." Both films are up for best drama, while Clooney was nominated for best dramatic actor and "The Help" earned acting slots for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain.
"We've all been striking out trying to make our dreams come true, and the fact that our very first studio film is being so well received and embraced is humbling and exciting," said supporting-actress nominee Spencer, an awards-season newcomer and longtime friend of Tate Taylor, the first-time director of "The Help," based on his childhood pal Kathryn Stockett's best-seller.
Also competing for best drama: Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure "Hugo"; Clooney's political thriller "The Ides of March"; Brad Pitt's baseball chronicle "Moneyball"; and Steven Spielberg's World War I epic "War Horse."
Joining "The Artist" in the best musical or comedy category are: the cancer story "50/50"; Kristen Wiig's wedding romp "Bridesmaids"; Woody Allen's romantic fantasy "Midnight in Paris"; and Michelle Williams' Marilyn Monroe tale "My Week With Marilyn."
Dujardin, who won the best-actor prize for "The Artist" in its premiere at last May's Cannes Film Festival, was nominated for best actor in a musical or comedy. He plays a silent-film star whose career nosedives as talking pictures take over in the late 1920s in "The Artist," which has virtually no spoken dialogue and is shot in the boxy, black-and-white format of the silent era.
The actor called his nomination an "incredible gift."
"To be recognized alongside such brilliant actors is an honor," Dujardin said. "The Golden Globe nomination for `The Artist' has left me speechless!"
"The Artist" also picked up a supporting actress honor for Bejo as a rising star of the sound era. Filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius earned directing and screenplay nominations for the film, which also is up for best musical score.
Along with the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations a day earlier, the Globes help narrow down prospects for the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out Jan. 24. If "The Artist" earns a best-picture nomination then, it will be the first silent movie with a serious shot at Hollywood's top prize since the very first year of the Oscars, for 1927-28, when the silent flicks "Wings" and "Sunset" took top honors.
"They said I was crazy to take on making a black-and-white, silent movie, but I had a feeling `The Artist' could be something special, something magical," said the film's producer, Thomas Langmann. "I'm so thankful that audiences are taking a chance and embracing it with a spirit of adventure and love of cinema."
Clooney has three nominations. Besides best dramatic actor as a neglectful dad tending his daughters in "The Descendants," he's up for directing and screenplay for "The Ides of March." For the acting prize, Clooney will compete against his "Ides" co-star Ryan Gosling, who plays a presidential candidate's aide. Gosling had a second nomination for best musical or comedy actor as a ladies man in the romance "Crazy, Stupid, Love."
Glenn Close is also a dual contender, as best dramatic actress as a woman masquerading as a male butler in the Irish drama "Albert Nobbs" and for best song for writing the lyrics to "Lay Your Head Down," the film's theme tune.
Also nominated for dramatic actress: Davis as a black maid going public with stories about her white employer in "The Help"; Rooney Mara as a traumatized victim-turned-avenger in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"; Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady"; and Tilda Swinton as a grieving woman coping with her son's terrible deeds in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
Clooney has another pal in the dramatic actor race, his "Ocean's Eleven" franchise co-star Pitt, who's nominated for his "Moneyball" role as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane. And Clooney also is competing for best director against his boss in "The Descendants," filmmaker Alexander Payne.
Gosling, Clooney and Pitt are up against Leonardo DiCaprio as FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar" and Michael Fassbender as a sex addict in "Shame."
Pitt's romantic partner, Angelina Jolie, picked up a nomination for foreign-language film for her directing debut, the Bosnian war drama "In the Land of Blood and Honey."
"I am forever indebted to our cast and crew, who experienced their own personal tragedies in the Bosnian war and gave me an authentic perspective into the conflict," Jolie said.
Scorsese for "Hugo" and Allen for "Midnight in Paris" join Clooney, Hazanavicius and Payne in the directing category.
"Making `Hugo' was an extraordinary experience for me," said Scorsese, whose tale is a loving nod to the early years of cinema and French director Georges Melies. "It gave me a chance to work in 3-D, which I've wanted to do since I was young; it allowed me to make a child's adventure, the type of picture that I loved when I was young; and it provided an occasion to pay tribute to one of the cinema's greatest pioneers, Georges Melies."
Though "War Horse" made it in for best drama, Spielberg missed out on a directing nomination.
Spielberg has a consolation prize with a nomination for his first animated film, "The Adventures of Tintin." Other animation nominees are: James McAvoy's "Arthur Christmas," Owen Wilson's "Cars 2," Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek's "Puss in Boots" and Johnny Depp's "Rango."
Along with Gosling and Dujardin, Wilson was nominated for musical or comedy actor as a writer nostalgic for the 1920s France of Hemingway and Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris." Also nominated are Brendan Gleeson as a bawdy, rule-breaking Irish cop on a drug investigation in "The Guard" and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cancer patient aided by an assortment of oddballs in "50/50."
Roman Polanski's domestic showdown "Carnage" earned musical or comedy actress slots for both Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet as mothers squabbling over their sons' schoolyard fight. The other nominees are: Charlize Theron as a delusional woman plotting to win back her high school boyfriend from his wife in "Young Adult"; Wiig as a maid of honor whose life is unraveling in "Bridesmaids"; and Williams as Marilyn Monroe during a chaotic film shoot in "My Week With Marilyn."
Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, Monroe's exasperated co-star and director on "The Prince and the Showgirl," was nominated for supporting actor.
"To be recognized for portraying one of the greatest actors of our time is truly an honor," Branagh said.
Also in the supporting-actor race: Albert Brooks as a gregarious but ruthless gangster in "Drive"; Jonah Hill as a statistics prodigy in "Moneyball"; Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in "A Dangerous Method"; and Christopher Plummer as an ailing, elderly father who comes out as gay in "Beginners."
Besides Bejo and Spencer, who plays a sassy maid in "The Help," supporting-actress nominees include "The Help" co-star Chastain as Spencer's lonely new boss. The other nominees are Janet McTeer as a cross-dressing laborer in "Albert Nobbs" and Shailene Woodley as a troublesome teen in "The Descendants."
Winslet had a second nomination, as best actress in a TV miniseries or movie for "Mildred Pierce." "Downton Abbey" and "Mildred Pierce" tied for the most television nominations with four, with both shows competing for best miniseries or movie.
Several TV newcomers were among the nominees, including "Boss," "New Girl," "American Horror Story" and "Homeland."
"I feel very lucky to be part of it," said "Homeland" star Damian Lewis, who plays a Marine rescued in Afghanistan after eight years in captivity but who draws the suspicion of a CIA operative, played by Claire Danes. "Now I may even be in season 2 now."
Zooey Deschanel, star of the Fox comedy "New Girl," learned of her nomination as best actress in a comedy and also the show's nod for best comedy after waking up to find her cellphone's mailbox was full with messages.
"I don't expect to be recognized or validated. I've been doing this so long, and I've done so many movies where I work really hard and don't ever get this kind of attention. But I so appreciate it, I'm so thankful!" he said driving to work.
With drinks and dinner, the Globes are a laid-back affair for Hollywood's elite compared to the Oscars. The show turned a bit touchy last year as host Ricky Gervais repeatedly made sharp wisecracks about stars and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 85 entertainment reporters for overseas outlets that presents the Globes.
But Gervais helped give the show a TV ratings boost, and he's been invited back as host for a third-straight year.
Before the nominations announcement, the press group's president, Aida Takla-O'Reilly, joked that Gervais is a "naughty, naughty schoolboy."
Five-time Academy Award and Globe nominee Morgan Freeman - who won the supporting-actor Oscar for "Million Dollar Baby" and a best-actor Globe for "Driving Miss Daisy" - will receive the group's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Jan. 15 ceremony.