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January 23, 2012

'Hugo' Leads Oscar Race With 11 Nominations

by Alan Silverman

Silent film 'The Artist,' nabs 10 nominations

The Academy Award nominations were announced this morning in Hollywood.



Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure movie "Hugo," a fantasy tribute to French film pioneer George Melies, leads the list with 11 nominations, including one for Best Director, numerous technical categories and the most coveted of all, Best Picture of the Year.

Actress and previous Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence announced the top category.

"The films selected as best picture nominees for 2011 are  "War Horse," "The Artist," "Moneyball," "The Descendants," "The Tree of Life," "Midnight in Paris," "The Help," "Hugo" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."

"The Artist," a French-made black-and-white silent film about old-time Hollywood, has 10 nominations, including writing and directing for Michel Hazanavicius, Best Actor for its star Jean DuJardin and Best Supporting Actress for co-star Berenice Bejo, who expresses the sentiment heard most often.

"Just being nominated is already an honor and already unbelievable," she said.

The nominees are chosen by peer groups within the 6,000-member Academy, comprised of men and women who work as actors, writers, directors, composers and various other filmmaking crafts.

While it's politically correct to protest the competitive aspect of the awards, Best Actress nominee Viola Davis says it's nice to be recognized.

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"You always want your work to be acknowledged," she said. "I can't do it in the room or in front of the mirror in my bathroom. I do it for the appreciation and enjoyment of an audience, so it means a lot."

Davis' performance in "The Help," about black maids working for white families in the south in the 1960s, puts her in the running for Best Actress alongside Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady;" Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn;" Glenn Close for "Albert Nobbs" and Rooney Mara as "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."

Best Actor nominees are DuJardin in "The Artist;" George Clooney for "The Descendants;" Brad Pitt for "Moneyball;" Gary Oldman for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and Mexican actor Demian Bichir for "A Better Life."

Films from Belgium, Canada, Poland, Israel and Iran are competing for Best Foreign Language Film.

Veteran Hollywood executive Brian Grazer, who will produce this year's Oscar telecast, sees no clear front-runner.

"I'm a little bit surprised and excited that a big Hollywood movie, 'Hugo,' got 11 nominations; and I think that it's a very unpredictable race that's going to happen right now," he said.

Winners of the 84th annual Academy Awards will be revealed in the global telecast from Hollywood on Feb. 26.