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Hollywood Set for Oscars

An Oscar statue is pictured on the red carpet arrival area during preparations for the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 25, 2012.

The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds its annual Oscar awards ceremony in Hollywood, California, Sunday night, honoring last year's best films, actors, directors and producers.

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Nine movies have been nominated for Best Picture. A highly unusual silent black-and-white film, called The Artist, is among the favorites to win the top prize. It tells the story of struggling silent-era movie star. Another unusual movie on the Best Picture list is Hugo, a visually-rich 3-D tribute to a French film pioneer that features British actor Sacha Baron Cohen.

Other nominees in this category include Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, Moneyball, which tells the story of baseball executive Billy Beane, and The Help, a movie about the plight of black maids serving white families in southern U.S. states decades ago.

Another contender, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is about a family facing the loss of a husband and father killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

In the Best Foreign Language Film category, the front-runner is Iran's A Separation. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, it tells the story of the difficult lives of a couple seeking a divorce. The movie has already won numerous awards this year.

Meryl Streep has once again been nominated for Best Actress for her starring role in Iron Lady, about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are competing for the Best Actor Oscar.

Veteran actor Billy Crystal will, for the ninth time, host the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, which will be viewed by hundreds of millions around the world.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.