Other best-drama nominees were the psychosexual dance thriller "Black Swan," the boxing saga "The Fighter," the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception" and the Facebook chronicle "The Social Network."
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Bonham Carter, a supporting-actress nominee as Queen Elizabeth II's mother in the 1930s-era "The King's Speech," said the Globe nominations had some medicinal value for her and romantic partner Tim Burton, director of "Alice in Wonderland," which had three nominations. She and their children were nursing colds at their London home, while Burton was suffering from kidney stones.
She was uncertain if the Globe nomination might help secure her the same honor at the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out Jan. 25. But she had stronger expectations for co-star Firth, a best-actor nominee as King George VI, the reluctant monarch struggling with a lifelong stammer.
"I've had a Golden Globe nomination before and then didn't get an Oscar nomination," Bonham Carter said. "But I presume Colin will get one, and I presume Colin will win."
"The Social Network" and "The Fighter" tied for second with six nominations each. Among nominations for "The Social Network" were Jesse Eisenberg as best dramatic actor, Andrew Garfield as supporting actor and David Fincher as director.
"The Fighter" earned four acting nominations, best actor for Mark Wahlberg and supporting honors for Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Its nominations also included a directing slot for David O. Russell.
Wahlberg, also a producer on "The Fighter," stars as Boston-area boxer Micky Ward, who overcame family strife to get a title shot in his mid-30s with help from his half brother (Bale), a former fighter whose life unravels amid crime and drugs.
"Micky Ward was one of my heroes growing up. Doing what he did against all odds, he's just a very special individual," Wahlberg said. "Growing up in that neck of the woods and his family being so similar to mine and all the struggles, it's very inspiring."
Johnny Depp earned two nominations, as best musical or comedy actor for "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Tourist."
Along with Eisenberg, Firth and Wahlberg, best dramatic actor contenders are James Franco for the survival story "127 Hours" and Ryan Gosling for the marital tale "Blue Valentine."
Nominees for best dramatic actress are Halle Berry for the multiple-personality drama "Frankie and Alice," Nicole Kidman for the grieving-parent tale "Rabbit Hole," Jennifer Lawrence for the Ozarks crime yarn "Winter's Bone," Natalie Portman for "Black Swan" and Michelle Williams for "Blue Valentine."
The news of her supporting-actress nomination for "Black Swan" came as a wake-up call for Mila Kunis, who co-stars as Portman's ballet rival for a production of "Swan Lake."
"It's good news to wake up to, for sure," Kunis said. "Being woken up at 5:30 in the morning, it was very funny, people were screaming on the phone, and my poor dogs were like, 'What's happening?"'
Along with Fincher and Russell, directing nominees are Darren Aronofsky for "Black Swan," Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech" and Christopher Nolan for "Inception."
Nolan's sci-fi hit also earned nominations for screenplay and musical score, but its cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, was snubbed for acting slots.
Joel and Ethan Coen's Western "True Grit," starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, was shut out completely.
Joining Depp in the musical or comedy actor race are Paul Giamatti in the curmudgeon chronicle "Barney's Version," Jake Gyllenhaal in the romance "Love and Other Drugs" and Kevin Spacey in the Jack Abramoff saga "Casino Jack."