Hollywood is gearing up for the 84th annual Academy Awards Sunday. The prestigious film honors, also known as the Oscars, acknowledge the best in movie making, and golden statuettes will go to actors and actresses and others behind the camera. The top contenders are facing off in a very competitive year.
Meryl Streep is considered one of the favorites for the Oscar for best actress. She won a Golden Globe from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Bafta award from the British film and television academy for her role as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Viola Davis (left) plays Aibileen Clark in "The Help."
Viola Davis is another favorite for the best actress Oscar for her role in The Help
as an African American maid in the American South of the 1960s. The film explores themes of race and class, and the performance earned Davis an acting award from the Screen Actors Guild.
George Clooney is up for two Oscars, for co-writing the adapted screenplay for the political film The Ides of March and for his starring role in The Descendants
, a family drama set in Hawaii.
George Clooney, a Best Actor nominee for "The Descendants" and an Adapted Screenplay nominee for "The Ides of March," at Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Feb. 6, 2012.
Clooney earned the Golden Globe as best actor in a drama for that role. Alexander Payne, who directed The Descendants
, is up for the Oscar for best director, and the film is a leading contender for the Oscar for best picture.
Another top contender is The Artist
from French director Michel Hazanavicius. The film earned seven honors at this year's Bafta awards. Jean Dujardin, the male lead in The Artist
, could go home with Oscar for best actor.
So could Gary Oldman for the espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
This year's foreign film entries come from Belgium, Israel, Poland, Canada and Iran, and many critics predict that the Iranian drama A Separation will win the Oscar. A Separation
is the story of conflict in a family torn between a wife's wish to emigrate and her husband's desire to stay in Iran to care for his ailing father.
There's intense competition at the Oscars, and always some surprises, but George Clooney told reporters earlier this month that he's honored just to be included as a nominee.
“It's nice because it comes from people that you work with a lot from every category. It's really nice. It's fun,” Clooney said.
Oscar winners are determined by a vote of nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional organization of key people in the movie industry. The envelopes revealing results of the tally will be opened Sunday at a gala presentation in Hollywood. ** Don't miss our Oscars Special Report