Although an unlikely candidate for Best Picture (a French silent film in black-and-white), “The Artist” has dominated the precursor awards, winning with the NYFCC, BFCA, Golden Globes (Comedy) and BAFTA. Michel Hazanavicius‘ feel-good romance starring Best Actor frontrunner Jean Dujardin should overcome the bias against movies about Hollywood winning the top honor at the Oscars. (10 nominations)
“The Descendants,” Alexander Payne‘s domestic drama a man (George Clooney) raising his daughters after his wife’s boating accident, received rave reviews. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Picture. (5 nominations)
“Hugo” is directed by Martin Scorsese, who won Best Director for helming the 2006 Best Picture champ “The Departed.” This family film about an orphan boy and a movie pioneer is a creative departure for the filmmaker, shot in 3D. (11 nominations)
“The Help” was the only one of the nominees to make more than $100 million, topping out at $160 million last summer. The film looks at civil rights in 1960s Mississippi from a female perspective. However, the only Oscar attention besides this came from the acting branch. (4 nominations)
“Midnight in Paris” marks Woody Allen‘s first Best Picture nominee since “Hannah and her Sisters” in 1986. This ode to Jazz Age artists like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein resonated with critics and audiences giving Allen his biggest hit in years. (4 nominations)
Baseball movies have not historically been Oscar bait, but “Moneyball” has a number of factors working in its favor. It’s directed by Bennett Miller, whose previous film, “Capote,” was nominated for Best Picture. The screenplay was co-written two Oscar champs Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) and Steve Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”). And the film received rave reviews. (6 nominations)
“War Horse” did well with critics and audiences but failed to connect with most of the precursor awards. This Steven Spielberg epic was shut out of other above-the-line categories at the Oscars but did well with the technical races. (6 nominations)
“The Tree of Life” is only the fifth film by director Terrence Malick. His third film, the World War II drama “The Thin Red Line,” earned him his first nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. This picture won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and received praise for its auteurist vision of the origin of life. (3 nominations)
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” has literary cachet (it’s based on a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer), it deals with important subject matter (the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City), and is directed by Stephen Daldry, who was nominated for Best Director for all three of his previous feature films and earned Best Picture nominations for the last two (“The Hours,” “The Reader”). Though it was ignored by most precursor awards, it inspires passion among its fans. (2 nominations)
Click on the pundits below to see a breakdown of their rankings in this race.
Click on each of the categories below for the overview of that race.