BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - Lesbian romance drama "Carol" and Wall Street misdeeds comedy "The Big Short" led a diverse range of films honored with Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, with genres spanning indie thrillers to big budget sci-fi action adventures.
"Carol," the story of a married older woman who falls in love with a young shopgirl in the 1950s, garnered five nominations including best drama film, director, score and acting nods for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
"Carol" is up for best drama against Pioneer-era movie "The Revenant," psychological thriller "Room," Catholic Church abuse probe "Spotlight" and thriller "Mad Max: Fury Road," a surprise contender in the category, which rarely sees a blockbuster action nominee.
"The Big Short," which takes a quirky look at the housing bubble collapse that led to the 2008 U.S. recession, led the comedy nominees with four nods; best comedy, screenplay and actor for Christian Bale and Steve Carell.
"We really tried to craft a movie that was energetic and entertaining, that could bring people to this issue with some excitement as opposed to being very dry," director and co-writer Adam McKay told Reuters.
It will compete with blockbuster space adventure "The Martian," Melissa McCarthy caper "Spy," coming-of-age comedy "Trainwreck" and "Joy," inspired by the story of the woman who designed the household Miracle Mop.
The Golden Globe winners will be announced at a televised ceremony in Los Angeles on Jan. 10, hosted by comedian Ricky Gervais.
In December last year, showbiz satire "Birdman" and coming-of-age movie "Boyhood" were already established as Oscar frontrunners. "Birdman" eventually edged out "Boyhood" for the best picture Oscar.
But this year, the race is wide open with numerous contenders for the coveted best picture award, and not necessarily the most obvious ones, said Tom O'Neil, founder of awards tracker Goldderby.com.
"The giant made-for-Oscars studio contenders are falling out," O'Neil said, citing Focus Features' "The Danish Girl," Universal Pictures' "Steve Jobs" and Disney's Tom Hanks movie "Bridge of Spies."
"Instead we see 'Room' and 'Spotlight,' little indie films, and that's sending a powerful message to Hollywood that size doesn't matter and they may have to try harder."
But the inclusion of "Mad Max" shows that voters are not dismissing blockbuster, special effects-laden fare - rather, "they're just not going for the ones we thought they would," O'Neil said.
The Globes, announced next month, are seen as one of the indicators of Oscar contenders. In recent years, "Argo" and "12 Years a Slave" both won the best drama film Golden Globe and went on to win the best picture Oscar.
The Globes' lead actor group features Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo," Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Revenant," Michael Fassbender for "Steve Jobs," Eddie Redmayne for "The Danish Girl" and Will Smith for "Concussion."
Blanchett and Mara will be up against Brie Larson for "Room," Saoirse Ronan for Irish immigrant tale "Brooklyn" and Alicia Vikander for transgender movie "The Danish Girl" in the best actress race.
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Frances Kerry