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Oscars 2012: Hugo leads nominees

Hugo, Martin Scorsese

Story by Jack Foley

AS WIDELY predicted, The Artist has emerged as the frontrunner among the main nominees for the 84th annual Academy Awards with 10 nods.

But the black and white silent movie homage didn’t attract the most nominations as that honour went to Martin Scorsese, whose movie Hugo surprisingly picked up a total of 11 nods, albeit in mostly technical categories such as art direction, film editing and visual effects.

Scorsese himself is up for best director, while the film is among the nine nominees for best picture. None of his cast, which includes Sir Ben Kingsley and Chloe Moretz, made any of the acting shortlists.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep were, however, prominent among these – the former for The Descendants and the latter for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Clooney will contest the best actor category with Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Brad Pitt (for Moneyball).

While Streep is up against Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Rooney Mara (The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo), Viola Davis (The Help) and Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn.

Of the nine films competing for best picture, there were surprise inclusions for the likes of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (all of which had been overlooked in a few of the previous awards ceremonies seen as indicators of Oscars success), as well as Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

The Artist, Moneyball, The Help, Hugo and The Descendants complete that shortlist.

The best actor category also included two surprise nominees in the form of Oldman, who landed his first ever nod, and Bichir, for his portrayal of an illegal immigrant father in A Better Life.

Their presence on the shortlist comes at the expense of some of the names that had been more widely anticipated such as Leonardo DiCaprio for J Edgar and Ryan Gosling for Drive.

In the supporting categories, Melissa McCarthy and Janet McTeer would probably rate as surprises among the actresses for Bridesmaids and Albert Nobbs, respectively, although the smart money is on Octavia Spencer for The Help or Berenice Bejo for The Artist.

While Christopher Plummer will be viewed as favourite to take best supporting actor for playing a gay man who comes out during his later years in Beginners, although he faces a strong field that includes veteran performers Nick Nolte (for Warrior) and Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) as well as Kenneth Branagh for My Week With Marilyn and Jonah Hill for Moneyball.

For the first time in forever, the animated award will not go to a movie made by Pixar. John Lasseter’s Cars 2 failed to make the shortlist, as did Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin.

Instead, that category will be contested by A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango – the latter of which is the clear favourite based on past awards success.

Iran’s A Separation is widely expected to take best foreign language film.

The nominations were announced in LA first thing Tuesday morning (January 24, 2012), while the awards themselves will be presented on February 26.

Find out who won