'Hugo,' 'The Artist' lead the 84th Academy Awards nominations
'The Descendants,' 'Midnight in Paris' also have strong showings
Although it failed to receive a single acting nomination, Martin Scorsese's 3D epic "Hugo" led the 84th Academy Awards nomination field with 11 nods on Tuesday (January 24) morning.
"Hugo" will be up for Best Picture at the February 26 ceremony against "The Artist," this year's prohibitive favorite with 10 nominations. Also featured in the nine-film Best Picture field are "The Descendants," "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life," "War Horse" and, possibly the surprise of Oscar nomination morning, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."
With the super-sized Best Picture category, some clarity can come from the Best Director and Screenplay categories.
Scorsese is up for Best Director against Alexander Payne of "The Descendants," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris," Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life" and Michel Hazanavicious of "The Artist."
Allen and Hazanavicious are also up for Original Screenplay, going against J.C. Chandor for "Margin Call," Asghar Farhadi for "A Separation" and Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig's "Bridesmaids" script.
John Logan's "Hugo" script and Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash's "The Descendants" script are nominated against scripts for "The Ides of March" (George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon), "Moneyball" (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin) and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan).
After being ignored by many of the pre-Oscar award-giving groups, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" also earned Gary Oldman his first Academy Award nomination, as he'll take on George Clooney, Brad Pitt, "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin and "A Better Life" star Damian Bichir for Actor in a Leading Role.
While the Lead Actor category is studded with first-timers, Actress in a Leading Role is led by frequent nominees Meryl Treep for "The Iron Lady" and Glenn Close" for "Albert Nobbs," plus previous Oscar favorites Michelle Williams ("My Week with Marilyn") and Viola Davis ("The Help"), leaving "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" star Rooney Mara as the lone Lead Actress nomination neophyte.
Although it was excluded in the writing and directing categories, "The Help" did pick up a pair of Supporting Actress nominations, with Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain going head-to-head against "Bridesmaids" breakthrough Melissa McCarthy, "The Artist" breakthrough Bernice Bejo and respected veteran Janet McTeer of "Albert Nobbs."
"Respected veterans" are the leaders in the Supporting Actor category, which includes Max von Sydow ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Christopher Plummer ("The Beginners"), Nick Nolte ("Warrior") and Kenneth Branagh ("My Week with Marilyn"), plus Jonah Hill earning his first career nomination for "Moneyball."