By Piya Sinha-Roy and Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's long awards season began to take shape on Monday with Golden Globe nominations that rewarded risk-taking and shone a spotlight on veterans and newcomers alike.
Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water," a magical drama about a relationship between a strange river creature and a mute cleaner, collected a leading seven nods, including best drama, and director and acting nominations for Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins.
"Above all, 'The Shape of Water' is about love overcoming fear and embracing the Other," Del Toro said in a statement.
"The Post," Steven Spielberg's pertinent drama about press freedom, followed with six nominations. The other nominees for the top best drama prize are British World War Two tale "Dunkirk," gay romance "Call Me By Your Name" and the quirky dramedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
The Golden Globes are chosen by about 90 journalists belonging to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but they often foreshadow picks for the Oscars, the movie industry's highest awards.
"The Shape of Water" and "The Post" are also among front-runners for Oscars in March. the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announces its own nominations on Wednesday.
"Call Me By Your Name" took 10 years to get made. It also brought first-time Golden Globe nominations for actors Timothee Chalamet, 21, and Armie Hammer, 31. Chalamet also appears in another Golden Globes contender, "Lady Bird," though he was not nominated for that role.
The Italian director of "Call Me By Your Name," Luca Guadagnino, in a statement called it "a great cinematic romance that challenged conventions and proved that love is love."
Mother-daughter comedy "Lady Bird" got four nods, including for its star, Saiorse Ronan, and Laurie Metcalf, in her supporting role as the title character's mother. However, first-time director Greta Gerwig was snubbed in an all-male list for that category.
Other best comedy or musical film nominees included James Franco's "The Disaster Artist," about the making of the 2003 box office bomb "The Room; "Get Out," a satire on modern race relations set within a psychological thriller, the P.T. Barnum musical "The Greatest Showman" and the ice-skating mockumentary "I, Tonya."
Australian actress and producer Margot Robbie, in her first Golden Globe nod, also was nominated for her starring role in "I, Tonya," which tells the story of Tonya Harding and the infamous 1994 attack on rival U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Allison Janney was nominated for playing Harding's mother.
"There were a lot of people who said this project was impossible to make. I'm really glad we didn't listen to them," Robbie, 27, told Reuters.
Movie studio Twentieth Century Fox and its Fox Searchlight unit for independent film dominated the nominations, sharing a total of 27 nods.
British actor Gary Oldman, 59, said he was "amazed, flattered and very proud" of his first Golden Globe nomination for his role as British wartime leader Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour."
Triple Oscar winner Day-Lewis was recognized for "Phantom Thread," which he has said will be his last as an actor.
Other first-time Golden Globe movie nominees included Britain's Daniel Kaluuya for his breakout role in "Get Out," Sam Rockwell as a dim-witted police officer in "Three Billboards," and Vietnamese-American actress Hong Chau for her role as a dissident maid in "Downsizing."
For television, British royal series "The Crown," "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale, "Stranger Things" and "This Is Us" will compete for the best drama series award.
"Black-ish," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Master of None," "SMILF" and "Will & Grace" were nominated in the best TV comedy category.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Adler)