'The Artist' and 'The Descendants' Lead 2012 Golden Globe Nominations

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It's official. "The Artist" is quietly steamrolling this year's awards season. But George Clooney and his "Descendants" are nipping at its black and white heels.

The Hollywood Foreign Press announced their nominees for the 2012 Golden Globes today and not surprisingly, "The Artist" led the way with six nominations, including nods Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

In the Dramatic categories, "The Descendants" also earned five nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Clooney, Best Supporting Actress for Shailene Woodley, Best Screenplay and Best Director for Alexander Payne.

Other top contenders include "The Help," which landed five nominations as well, including nods for Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer and "Moneyball," which earned four nominations including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill and Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for Brad Pitt.

While the strong performance of "Moneyball" was a bit of a surprise, the biggest shock was the near absence of presumed Comedy frontrunner "Bridesmaids," which earned only two nominations, one for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical and one for star Kristen Wiig. Melissa McCarthy, who had been considered a shoo-in for her breakout performance, was snubbed in favor of Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, both of whom landed nods for Roman Polanski's talky Euro-farce "Carnage." And "Bridesmaids" was also overshadowed by "Midnight in Paris," which landed four nominations including Best Screenplay and Best Director for Woody Allen.

"The Descendants" wasn't Clooney's only triumph this year; his political passion project "The Ides of March" earned four nominations, including Best Director for Clooney as well as Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Actor - Drama for star Ryan Gosling, meaning that Clooney the actor will be competing with Clooney the director/producer in all four major categories.

And the highly competitive Best Actress in a Drama race solidified further, with "The Help"'s Davis being joined by fellow front-runners Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs"), Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"); all four have been nominated in the category by each major industry group so far this award season. The field was rounded out by Rooney Mara for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Second only to the Oscars in terms of prestige, the 69th annual Golden Globes are scheduled to air live on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. ET. Controversial host Ricky Gervais is set to return for his third hosting engagement.

Get the entire list of nominees here.

2012 Golden Globe Nominees Gallery