The Hollywood Foreign Press Association spread the love among an eclectic circle of awards season contenders, recognising The Artist with six nods, followed by The Help and The Descendants on five apiece.

It was a rewarding day for The Ides Of March, which announced itself in the awards race for the first time in a significant way with four Golden Globe nominations alongside Moneyball and Midnight In Paris.

The all-European production Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was shut out, as was Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

The UK’s Graham King was celebrating a superb haul as the producer behind three nominated films: Hugo earned three nominations including best dramatic picture, while Rango is a best animation contender and Angelina Jolie’s In The Land Of Blood And Honey is in the running for best foreign language film.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” King said on Thursday morning (15), “so it’s kind of overwhelming. Projects come together in bunches – it’s like feast or famine – and it’s about dividing up the time for whatever needs me most and having a great team around me.”

It was a good day too for George Clooney (pictured earlier this year at the LFF), who earned a directing nod for The Ides Of March and will compete with his friend Alexander Payne, who directed him in The Descendants, as well as Martin Scorsese for Hugo, Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris and Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.

Clooney and his Ides co-writers Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon go up against virtually the same field in the screenplay contest – just swap out Hugo for the heavyweight duo of Moneyball scribes Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian.

To round things off his nomination as dramatic actor for The Descendants pits him against his friend and Moneyball star Brad Pitt and his Ides star Ryan Gosling, who is also nominated in the comedy or musical actor category for Crazy, Stupid, Love. Michael Fassbender earns a dramatic actor nod for Shame, as does Leonardo DiCaprio for J. Edgar.

Rooney Mara from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo joins the more established awards season dramatic actress contenders Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, Viola Davis for The Help and Tilda Swinton for We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Michelle Williams, the star of My Week With Marilyn, is nominated in the comedy or musical category alongside Bridesmaids’ Kristen Wiig, Charlize Theron for Young Adult and the Carnage duo of Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.

Below is a sample of reactions circling Hollywood on Thursday. Click here for list of theatrical nominees.

In the UK, BFI CEO Amanda Nevill congratulated the British nominees. “In a year which has seen British films excite and enthral audiences at home and abroad, it’s fantastic to now see UK film talent recognised at the Golden Globes. We’re delighted to see films backed with Lottery money through our own Film Fund, including The Iron Lady, Shame, We Need To Talk About Kevin and The Guard, receive four nominations, once again underlining the importance of public investment in supporting British film talent.”

“I wasn’t expecting this, so it’s kind of overwhelming. Projects come together in bunches – it’s like feast or famine – and it’s about dividing up the time for whatever needs me most and having a great team around me. [These three films] are all so different. With In The Land Of Blood And Honey, Angelina was so passionate about doing this film, so she was on that road to making it with or without me, so I loved her passion and it’s fantastic to help give someone a shot to start a new career. With Rango, Gore wanted to try animation for the first time and he and John Logan came up with this fantastic story to tell. On Hugo, I’d bought the book way back when and turned it into a movie with Marty directing in 3D for the first time.”
Graham King, producer, Hugo, Rango, In The Land Of Blood And Honey

“On behalf of the entire cast and crew of The Descendants I would like to thank the HFPA for this recognition. It is an especially great day. It feels so gratifying to see the career best performance of George Clooney acknowledged, as well as the breathtaking Shailene Woodley. Finally, we are all so proud of our director, Alexander Payne, and feel so fortunate to be able to collaborate with a master filmmaker. Looking forward to celebrating with all of the nominees next month.”
Jim Burke, producer, The Descendants

“I keep thinking of this group of friends who have all been struggling forever can go and make this is incredible. Octavia [Spencer] and I met as PAs on a film set and lived together and now this… it’s crazy. It’s great because I love character pieces and I love to tell real stories and to have American and the world embrace this is great. It’s great to have a place in this business. Now I have to call back my mother – she’s left me three messages this morning.”
Tate Taylor, director, The Help

“We’re extremely proud of our association with The Help, and we’re thrilled to see the film, as well as the brilliant performances by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain are getting the recognition they deserve.”
Ricky Strauss, president, Participant Media

“I’m very excited and honoured by these nominations. It’s very gratifying to be recognised by the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.  Everyone associated with the film worked very hard and I am delighted by the public’s response. And now this!”
Letty Aronson, producer, Midnight In Paris

“We knew that this was going to be a challenging piece for some audiences so I am especially delighted that the HFPA have acknowledged my contribution to Steve McQueen’s amazing film. I am thrilled – thank you.”
Michael Fassbender, Shame

“I was very pleased to learn that my Sigmund Freud was nominated today to be part of the Golden Globes ceremony. It would have made me even happier if our director, David Cronenberg, and the remarkable performance by Keira Knightley also had been invited to the party, but I will be extremely proud to represent A Dangerous Method. Fortunately our fine Carl Jung, Michael Fassbender, was nominated for his work in Shame. David made a risky choice when he cast me to play Dr Freud, and I’m glad that his instincts have paid off in the eyes of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

“I have played bad guys before like in Out Of Sight, although he was a pussy. So here was a guy who wanted to get on with his life and if you put him against a wall, he was going to punch you. I enjoyed the part of him where he doesn’t take any shit, but it wasn’t so much fun… covered in fake blood with a knife in your hand where you have to be careful not to really hurt someone. Nicolas [Winding Refn, Drive director] has got some real interesting stuff going on – he’s interesting, this guy.
Albert Brooks, Drive

“I’m so excited and grateful to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this honor, as well as for recognising the brilliance of both Alexander Payne and George Clooney. Creating The Descendants was such a magical time in my life, and to now be in the company of so many remarkable nominees this year is truly humbling. This entire journey has been a once in a lifetime experience that I am incredibly thankful for.”
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

“I am truly honoured to be recognised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Young Adult was a dream project for me. Collaborating with Jason Reitman was incredible.  We had a great time making this film and Mavis Gary is one of the most interesting characters I have ever played.”
Charlize Theron, Young Adult

“I am absolutely delighted for myself and for everyone involved in The Guard, especially writer/director John Michael McDonagh, who gave me the gift of Sergeant Gerry Boyle. I love that something so culturally specific can receive such prestigious international recognition. It renews the faith!”
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard

“Making Hugo was an extraordinary experience for me. It gave me a chance to work in 3D, 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 Méliès. Given the support they’ve provided to The Film Foundation in our efforts to restore many films over the years, the recognition of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this particular picture has a very special meaning for me.”
Martin Scorsese, director, Hugo

“I’m very touched by the HFPA’s recognition of The Descendants among so many other fine films this year, and I’m particularly gratified by the inclusion of Shailene Woodley along with George Clooney for acting honours. I’m looking forward to the Golden Globes dinner and hope they provide a low-sodium option.”
Alexander Payne, director-producer, The Descendants

“For myself and for all my collaborators on this film as well as for the extended family of Iranian cinema to which I belong, the selection by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of A Separation as a nominee for the Best Foreign Film Golden Globe is a significant event and it makes us all happy. The nomination gives me greater resolve and encouragement to continue making this kind of cinema.” Asghar Farhadi, writer-director-producer of A Separation

“I am very happy with my Golden Globe nomination for my latest film The Skin I Live In. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has always been very generous with me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I’m competing with other foreign films that are so fabulous; I don’t mind being defeated by any of them. For me, the award will be being at the Beverly Hilton sharing dinner and mineral water with so many people I admire.”
Pedro Almodóvar, director-co-writer, The Skin I Live In

“We just heard about the nomination of our film Le Gamin Au Velo / The Kid With A Bike at the Golden Globes. We are so excited and wish to sincerely thank the HFPA for this great honor - and our first nomination EVER in the US. We hope this will lead the film to a great path in the big continent of the USA.”
Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, writer-directors, The Kid With A Bike

“I am grateful that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is honouring our film. This was a true collaboration and 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. This nomination is a tribute to the collective talent and passion of this extraordinary cast.”
Angelina Jolie,writer-director, In The Land Of Blood And Honey

“To say we’re honored and excited and overwhelmed would be a huge understatement.  First and foremost, thanks to the HFPA. This is shared with Kaui Hart Hemmings who wrote such a beautiful book that we all fell in love with. We are equally honored to have had this opportunity to write and work with Alexander, someone whom we have long admired. It’s all part of a collective dream come true.”
Jim Rash And Nat Faxon, screenwriters, The Descendants

“This is a thrill for all of us who worked so tirelessly on Cars 2. We love the Cars world and these characters, and they have truly become part of the Pixar family. We are so very honored that the HFPA has recognised the work and passion that went into making the film.”
John Lasseter, director, and Denise Ream, producer, Cars 2

“It is an incredible honour to be recognised by the HFPA. When we set out to make Rango we really tried to do something different, and this distinction is a testament to all the artists who dedicated themselves to that end. Being included on a list with these nominees is unimaginable. I want to thank Johnny Depp for his immense trust and talent in bringing the lizard to life, and to Paramount for their unwavering support.”
Gore Verbinski, director, Rango

“After our long adventure to bring Tintin to the screen, this is a very happy moment for us and for Peter Jackson who got the news in New Zealand. We join in thanking the members of the HFPA for this recognition.”
Steven Spielberg, director and producer, and Kathleen Kennedy, producer, Tintin

“What a great wake-up call for our entire cast and crew. We can’t wait for the ceremony. To quote the cat himself, Antonio Banderas, ‘Me-Wow!’”
Chris Miller, director, Puss In Boots

“I am just thrilled that Bernie and I have been nominated for a Golden Globe. What a great end to a fantastic year!”
Elton John, “Hello Hello” – music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin – performed by Elton John and Lady Gaga

“It’s a huge honour to receive this nomination for The Keeper. Sam Childers’ story as depicted in Marc Forster’s film deeply resonated with me giving me great inspiration to write this song.”
Chris Cornell, nominated for best original song, “The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher

“It’s a great thrill to be nominated, especially for W.E. The film and the director provided me with so much inspiration.”
Abel Korzeniowski, Best Original Score, W.E.

“A Golden Globe nomination is the best imaginable compliment to the whole Downton Abbey team. I feel honoured and delighted and grateful in equal measure.”
Julian Fellowes – creator, executive producer of writer of Downton Abbey, which earned four nods including best mini-series or motion picture made for television