LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is gearing up for the Academy Awards, or Oscars, the highlight of the year for the movie industry, and for movie fans around the world.
Steven Spielberg's epic Lincoln, the story of the 16th U.S. president's efforts to end slavery, is one of this year's leading films, and a top nominee for best picture. Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the title role, is considered the front-runner for the Oscar for best actor.
“Abolishing slavery by constitutional provision settles the fate for all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come," said lincoln, played by Lewis.
Sally Field is a nominee for her supporting role as the president's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.
“No one's ever been loved so much by the people. Don't waste that power," she said.
At a luncheon honoring Oscar nominees on Monday, the actress spoke about portraying an emotional first lady who lived in a time of national crisis.
“You don't tap into any one emotion," said Sally Field. "You try to live in this place, these other people's shoes that you create through the techniques of learning their history and everything about them, and then the era and the clothes and then the actual immediacy of that day.”
Argo, from actor and director Ben Affleck, is another top contender for best picture. It's the story of six Americans who escape the chaos of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian revolution, with the help of American agents who pretend to be making a science fiction movie. The improbable tale is based on a true story.
Argo was named best dramatic film at this year's Golden Globes, and the Directors Guild of America honored Affleck with its top award this year. But he failed to get a nomination for the best director Oscar, and some view that as a snub. Affleck says he's happy with seven other nominations, including for best picture.
“I'm elated by that, truly genuinely thrilled," said Affleck. "And like I said, there are nine amazing movies, any of which could win, any of which would deserve to win if they did. So I don't get into worrying too much about who got what and didn't get what. I mean, I've had many, many, many, many, many, many years watching from home.”
Another leading film, Zero Dark Thirty, tells the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The story focuses on a determined agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, played by Jessica Chastain.
Chastain is a nominee for the Oscar for best actress and says that's an honor.
“For me, I feel like I've already won," said Chastain. "And so I never want to lose sight of what I feel right now, and being in this business and being nominated. I know everyone says that, but really, you win already.”
Christoph Waltz, who plays a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's slavery saga Django Unchained, says he's not celebrating his nomination yet. He won the Oscar as best supporting actor for the 2009 Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds.
“An Oscar nomination for me is also a little bit of a reason for, let's say, nervous anticipation," said Waltz. "So I don't really consider nervous anticipation a reason to celebrate.”
Other leading films include the screen adaptation of the stage musical Les Miserables, and Ang Lee's Life of Pi, the story of a boy trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.
The leading entry for best foreign film is Amour, a French-language drama from Austria about aging and loss. It's also a nominee for best picture.
One of the producers of the Oscar ceremony, Craig Zadan, says this has been a great year for movies, and this year's show should be exciting.
“I think that the movies are very competitive this year, and the movies have done really huge box office," said Zadan. "So instead of doing a bunch of films that no one has seen, most of the films have been seen by a large proportion of the population.”
He hopes many will be watching February 24, when the Oscars are presented in Hollywood.