'Hugo,' Plummer, Von Sydow and Close make this a sentimental Oscar contest

Meryl Streep has to be hoping that the 17th time will be the charm. Jonah Hill has to be the most shocked guy in Hollywood. Well, he and J.C.

Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep shows off the best actress Golden Globe she won for her role as Margaret Thatcher in the film "Iron Lady." Streep is up for a best actress Oscar. Associated Press

Meryl Streep has to be hoping that the 17th time will be the charm. Jonah Hill has to be the most shocked guy in Hollywood. Well, he and J.C. Chandor, the screenwriter/director of the superb but little-seen "Margin Call."

Martin Scorsese's love poem to the movies and film preservation, "Hugo," led the pack with a whopping 11 Oscar nominations when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the contenders Tuesday morning in Beverly Hills.

Nine films were nominated for best picture, but not "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Five films are up for best animated feature film, but not "The Adventures of Tintin."

Movies that hadn't made a ripple this awards season, such as "Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy," "Bridesmaids," "Albert Nobbs" and "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," made Oscar noise in spite of that lack of buzz.

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer, both playing women living disguised as men in 19th-century Ireland, pulled best actress and supporting actress nominations for "Albert Nobbs."


The same two pictures that have dominated the pre-Oscar awards - "The Artist" and "The Descendants" - still look like favorites, collecting nine and five nominations, respectively. "Hugo" and "War Horse" (six nominations) set themselves up to be Oscar's night's biggest losers, collecting lots of nominations in categories they have little chance of winning.

The Academy, for a change, remembered a few movies from earlier in 2011 - the March animated smash "Rango" and early summer's "The Tree of Life" (nominations for director Terrence Malick and for cinematography), "Bridesmaids" (nominations for screenplay and for supporting actress Melissa McCarthy) and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" (three nominations, including director and original screenplay). Demian Bichir from this summer's little-seen "A Better Life" scored a surprise nomination for best actor. He's competing against heavy favorite George Clooney (The Descendants"), Jean Dujardin ("The Artist"), Brad Pitt ("Moneyball") and Gary Oldman, nominated for the first time for his performance as an aged, meticulous spy in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Best actress pits favorites Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Viola Davis ("The Help") against Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs"), Michelle Williams ("My Week With Marilyn") and long shot Rooney Mara ("Girl With the Dragon Tattoo").

Oscar night will be packed with sentimental favorites, with Christopher Plummer ("Beginners"), Nick Nolte ("Warrior) and Max von Sydow ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") fighting it out in the best supporting actor category. The oft-nominated Close ("Albert Nobbs"), onetime British boy wonder Kenneth Branagh ("My Week With Marilyn") and Davis ("The Help") all give this year's nominations a sense of history, of long and fruitful careers.

The two acting nominations for "Moneyball" - Brad Pitt for best actor, Hill for supporting actor - and best picture nomination lift that fall film's chances.

Best animated feature is a truly international category this year, with the French film "A Cat in Paris" and Spanish "Chico & Rita" seemingly taking spots that might have been reserved for "The Adventures of Tintin," "Rio" or "Arthur Christmas." The mainstream hits "Puss in Boots," "Rango" and "Kung Fu Panda 2" will compete against the European films.

"The Adventures of Tintin" and Steven Spielberg (no best director nomination for "War Horse" or "Tintin") were the early consensus on nomination day's biggest losers. Albert Brooks ("Drive"), director David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), Jim Broadbent ("The Iron Lady") and Ryan Gosling, not nominated for either "Drive" or "The Ides of March," were left out in the cold.

The 84th Academy Awards will be handed out Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. and televised on ABC.

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