The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) on Thursday (13) rewarded an eclectic group of contenders with Lincoln on top with seven nominations, followed by Django Unchained and Argo on five each and Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook on four apiece.

“Seven has never been a more lucky number than it is for me today,” best director nominee Steven Spielberg [pictured] said on the day the film coincidentally crossed $100m at the North American box office. “I was delighted to hear that the HFPA has chosen to recognise Daniel, Sally, Tommy, Tony Kushner, John Williams, Kathy Kennedy and me so generously.”

Best actor nominee Daniel Day-Lewis said: “I’m very grateful to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for so generously acknowledging us in a year of such powerful films and performances.”

Another strong awards contender, Argo, earned five nominations including best picture and best director for Ben Affleck.

“Having a screenplay produced for the first time is a tremendous gift for any writer,” said Argo best screenplay nominee Chris Terrio. “To see the script directed by Ben, with the brilliant cast and crew he assembled, and then honoured by the HFPA, feels like winning the screenwriter lottery.”

The hostage drama’s best original score nominee Alexandre Desplat also composed the music for four other nominees this year – Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty, Rise Of The Guardians and Rust And Bone.

“It is an honour to be nominated again by the HFPA,” said Desplat. “Writing the score for Argo was a rare experience. I wish to thank Ben Affleck, George Clooney [producer], Grant Heslov [producer] and Chay Carter [executive producer] for taking me on board their flight to Iran. I want to share this nomination with the brilliant musicians from all over the world who performed on my score.”

Quentin Tarantino’s revenge Western Django Unchained also found favour with the HFPA membership. “It’s very gratifying to get this many nominations from the HFPA for a film I worked so hard on and am so passionate about,” said Tarantino. “I look forward to having fun at the Golden Globes with my castmates and fellow nominees.”

Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio both earned best supporting actor nods. “I’m truly honoured to be nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association today,” said DiCaprio. “Django Unchained was a remarkable experience and I consider myself lucky to work with Quentin and the entire cast on the film. I’m particularly proud to be named alongside my fellow Django nominees.”

Les Miserables star Anne Hathaway was elated upon hearing of her best supporting actress nod. “What a great way to wake up,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for this news. Congratulations to Hugh [Jackson] and everyone who worked on Les Miz for their contribution to the best picture nomination.”

Expressing gratitude for her second nomination after recognition for Winter’s Bone in 2011, Jennifer Lawrence said she was “grateful to be part of [the film], and for the opportunity to do this role. And now, to be in a category of other talents – Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Emily Blunt – who have also portrayed independently minded and driven female characters… that’s very cool.”

Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow was celebrating four nominations for her film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden – best picture, director, actress and screenplay.

“It’s an honour, sincerely, and very humbling to be singled out this way by the HFPA,” said Bigelow. “We’re grateful and encouraged by their support, especially since our film has such a diverse, international cast and as the HFPA represent so many countries across the globe. And a big congratulations to the amazing Jessica Chastain and my producing partner and screenwriter Mark Boal.”

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen received three nominations in perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, which left director Lasse Hallstrom “happy as a clam.”

“Many thanks to the HFPA for recognising our film with these nominations,” said the Swede. “I loved making this movie, and I am so happy for Ewan [McGregor] and Emily [Blunt] and on top of being outstanding actors, they are two of the funniest and nicest people in the business, in my mind.” Both McGregor and Blunt earned acting nods.

The romance’s producer Paul Webster said: “We had to swim hard upstream to make this film and to have hooked these nominations is truly a great honour. Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”

In other unexpected developments, there were acting nominations for Richard Gere for best actor in Arbitrage, Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea and Meryl Streep for Hope Springs.

“I am deeply grateful for this nomination, and in particular, for the HFPA’s recognition of the hard work and passion that Terence Davies brought to this wonderful British indie,” said Weisz. “I am thrilled that this nomination might allow his beautiful work to reach a larger audience.”

Nicole Kidman, who earned a best supporting actress nod for The Paperboy, said: “As an actor you look for roles that are rich, complicated and that stretch you and this year I was blessed to find two. To have the chance to play them was a gift in itself and to then be acknowledged this way is icing on the cake. Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press.”

“Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press for this nomination,” said Amy Adams of her supporting actress nomination for The Master. “I’m so appreciative to have been part of Paul Thomas Anderson’s extraordinary film and to have had the opportunity to star alongside such respected actors as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, who were nothing short of brilliant in their performances.”

The best foreign film category produced nominations for Austria with Amour, Denmark with A Royal Affair, Norway with Kon-Tiki and France for Rust And Bone and The Intouchables.

Rust And Bone director Jacques Audiard said: “We have been blessed with an impressive reception of the film in the US but this nomination comes as an unexpected honour. I am particularly happy for Marion [Cotillard]. When you have shared a moment of pleasure with someone, it is always great to have the opportunity to extend it. This confirms the interest paid in recent years by the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for French cinema. I am very happy to be part of this trend.”

Happiness and joy overcome the director and co-writer of A Royal Affair, Nikolaj Arcel. “I am overjoyed with the HFPA’s decision to nominate A Royal Affair this morning,” said the Danish filmmaker. “For a director who grew up in tiny Denmark, this is monumental to me in ways that are hard to describe. Me and my creative collaborators worked on, dreamed of and breathed this film for almost five years and it humbles us that it has travelled so far beyond our own borders. We are very happy and extremely proud.”

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel produced a best actress nomination for Judi Dench, who said: “This is lovely news… Having had such a glorious time in India, I’m so happy for [director] John Madden and [producer] Graham Broadbent and delighted to be included in such a wonderful group of fellow actors.”

Moonrise Kingdom director and co-screenwriter Wes Anderson received news of the film’s nomination in the musical of comedy category while travelling to Berlin. “I received this news by text message on the fast train to Berlin. The Hollywood Foreign Press has brightened a bleak snowy day in Germany for me. I could not be more pleased on behalf of our gang.”

Receiving nominations for best animated film were Disney’s Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph, along with Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, and DreamWorks Animations’ Rise Of The Guardians.

“Seeing the audience reaction was amazing on its own and now this… it’s too much really,” said Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky. “Just from everything that’s happened so far I feel like we’re being watched over by some great animators in the skies and they have shined good fortune upon us. I know it’s a bit dramatic but it’s awesome.”

Director Tim Burton, upon hearing of the nod for Frankenweenie, said: “I’m thrilled to be recognised by the HFPA. Frankenweenie is a very personal project for me and the nomination goes as much to the animators who labored frame by frame to bring this film to life.”

“The adventure of Brave began in Scotland, where the mystery and majesty of the land fueled our imaginations,” said writer and director of Mark Andrews. “From haggis to Highland Games, creating this film truly changed our fate. On behalf of everyone at Pixar, we would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for the incredible honour of this nomination.”