Carol will go up against Alejandro G Inarritu's The Revenant to be named best film drama, along with Mad Max: Fury Road, kidnap drama Room and real life abuse drama Spotlight.
The best drama actress category also sees Room's Brie Larson nominated against Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as well as Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl.
Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in The Revenant was recognised for best drama actor, alongside Bryan Cranston in biopic Trumbo, Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs and Will Smith in Concussion.
Eddie Redmayne, who won the award last year for his role in The Theory of Everything, is nominated again this year for his portrayal of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.
Films with the most nominations
The Big Short
In the musical or comedy film categories, US financial crisis movie The Big Short is up for best film, competing against Spy, Trainwreck and surprise nominees The Martian and Joy.
Jennifer Lawrence is also nominated for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role in Joy - a biopic about the inventor of the Miracle Mop - along with Melissa McCarthy for Spy, Amy Schumer in Trainwreck, Dame Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van and Lily Tomlin in Grandma.
The best actor in a musical or comedy category sees The Big Short's Christian Bale and Steve Carell nominated with Matt Damon for The Martian, Al Pacino in Danny Collins and Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear.
Among the British stars nominated in the best supporting actor and actress categories include Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation, Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, Dame Helen Mirren for Trumbo and Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs.
British film-maker Ridley Scott is also nominated for best director for his sci-fi blockbuster The Martian.
And singer Sam Smith also has a best original song nod for Writing's on the Wall - the theme to James Bond film spectre.
TV shows with most nominations
In the television categories there was a much broader spread of nominations. American Crime, Fargo, Mr Robot, Outlander, Transparent and Wolf Hall all landed three nominations each.
BBC Two drama Wolf Hall is up for best TV miniseries or TV film, with its stars Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis nominated for best actor and best supporting actor.
Empire, Game of Thrones, Mr Robot, Narcos and Outlander will compete for the best drama TV series honour.
Meanwhile Casual, Mozart in the Jungle, Orange is the New Black, Silicon Valley, Transparent and Veep are all nominated for best musical or comedy TV series.
Among the best TV drama actors and actresses who received nods include Jon Hamm for the final series of Mad Men, Taraji P Henson for Empire, while Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Lowe were also nominated for their new shows Scream Queens and The Grinder in the TV comedy categories.
Another surprise nomination came for Lady Gaga, recognised in the best actress in a miniseries for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel.
Other British stars nominated included David Oyelowo for Nightingale, Sir Patrick Stewart for Blunt Talk, Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt, Alan Cumming for The Good Wife and Tobias Menzies for Outlander.
The nominations and eventual winners are decided by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - a group of entertainment editors and writers from 55 countries who report on the industry year-round.
Ricky Gervais will return to host the ceremony on 10 January - his third time fronting the awards.