Epic musical "Les Miserables" and boy-meets-tiger saga "Life of Pi" received nine nominations each on Wednesday. James Bond adventure "Skyfall" got eight — rare awards recognition for an action movie — and Iran hostage thriller "Argo" took seven.
"Lincoln" focuses on the last months in the life of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, as he struggled to end the Civil War and pass a constitutional amendment banning slavery.
Britain's Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for leading actor for his uncanny embodiment of the iconic president, and there are supporting nominations for Sally Field as his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as abolitionist firebrand Thaddeus Stevens. But the film's director, Steven Spielberg, failed to get a nod.
The best picture nominees are "Lincoln," ''Les Miserables," ''Life of Pi," ''Argo" and Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty."
"Les Miserables" is also a contender in the separate category of best British film, alongside "Anna Karenina," ''The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," ''Seven Psychopaths" and "Skyfall."
Ben Affleck is nominated both as director of "Argo" and as its leading actor. The other male acting contenders are Day-Lewis, Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings Playbook," Hugh Jackman for "Les Miserables" and Joaquin Phoenix for "The Master."
"Skyfall" star Daniel Craig was snubbed, but the film received supporting acting nominations for Judi Dench's spy chief and Javier Bardem's scene-stealing baddie.
The best-actress shortlist includes 85-year-old "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva — who was nominated for the same prize 52 years ago for "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" — Helen Mirren for "Hitchcock," Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook," Jessica Chastain for "Zero Dark Thirty" and Marion Cotillard for "Rust and Bone."
The heavyweight best-director list includes Affleck, Michael Haneke for Cannes Film Festival prize-winner "Amour," Quentin Tarantino for "Django Unchained," Ang Lee for "Life of Pi" and Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty."
Poignant old-age portrait "Amour" is up for best foreign-language film, along with Norway's "Headhunters," Denmark's "The Hunt" and French films "Rust and Bone" and "Untouchable."
In recent years, the British awards, known as BAFTAs, have helped underdog films including "Slumdog Millionaire," ''The King's Speech" and "The Artist" gain momentum for Oscars success.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on Feb. 10, two weeks before the Hollywood awards.