The surreal show business satire leads the Golden Globe Awards film nominations.

12 Dec 2014 - 2:12 AM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2014 - 7:20 AM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Dec 11 (Reuters) - The surreal show business satire "Birdman.", a darling of critics for its innovative storytelling, led the Golden Globe Awards film nominations on Thursday, with its seven nods making it a frontrunner early in the Hollywood awards season.

The story of a washed-up actor played by Michael Keaton attempting a comeback on the Broadway stage, "Birdman" will compete in the best comedy or musical category with "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Into the Woods," "Pride" and "St. Vincent."

Coming-of-age drama "Boyhood," and World War Two biopic "The Imitation Game" landed five nominations each and will square off in the coveted best drama category against "Foxcatcher," "Selma" and "The Theory of Everything."

The Golden Globes, organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, will be handed out on Jan. 11 in Beverly Hills. They are one of the biggest ceremonies in the Hollywood awards season leading to the Oscars in February.

A big omission this year was Angelina Jolie's second film as director, the World War Two drama "Unbroken," which received no nominations.

But "Selma," the Martin Luther King biopic opening on Dec. 25, landed four nods, including best director for relative newcomer Ava Duvernay, the only female contender in the best director race. The other nominations were best drama and best actor for David Oyelowo as King.

In the very competitive category of best actor for drama, Oyelowo will face Steve Carell for "Foxcatcher," Benedict Cumberbatch for "The Imitation Game," Jake Gyllenhaal for "Nightcrawler" and Eddie Redmayne for "The Theory of Everything."

Keaton, who like his character is a former superhero star, will compete for best comedy or musical actor with Ralph Fiennes for "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Bill Murray for "St. Vincent," Joaquin Phoenix for "Inherent Vice" and Christoph Waltz for "Big Eyes."

Julianne Moore scored a rare double nomination as best actress in both the drama and comedy or musical categories. In the drama "Still Alice", she is a woman struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, while in "Maps to the Stars," she plays a fading actress.

"Birdman," from Fox Searchlight Pictures, has garnered praise for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, using what appears to be one seamless take that follows Keaton and his co-stars in the cramped confines of Broadway theater. Its acerbic commentary on celebrity and entertainment plays on a mix of reality and fantasy.

"Boyhood" also wowed critics with something never seen in cinema: a story about a boy growing up, filmed over 12 years with the same actors.

The HFPA rewarded "Boyhood" filmmaker Richard Linklater with a best director nod, alongside Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Birdman," Duvernay, Wes Anderson for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and David Fincher for "Gone Girl."

(Reporting by Mary Milliken and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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