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In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Asa Butterfield portrays Hugo Cabret, left, and Chloë Grace Moretz portrays Isabelle in a scene from "Hugo." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Jaap Buitendijk)
‘Hugo,’ ‘Artist’ vie for Oscar glory
Nominations out » Nine films are up for Best Picture.
First Published Jan 24 2012 09:00 am • Last Updated Jan 24 2012 11:40 pm

Two numbers define this year’s Academy Awards nominations: Nine and eleven.

Nine movies have been nominated for Best Picture, thanks to new Oscar voting rules that require a minimum number of first-place votes to make the list.

Another Oscar nod

Max Zähle, a graduate of Hamburg Media School, has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short for his film, “Raju,” which will receive a free screening in Park City on Saturday sponsored by the Angelus Student Film Festival.

In 2011, Zähle won the Angelus Festival’s Patrick Peyton Excellence in Filmmaking Award for “Raju,” which festival organizers describe as an emotional short film about a German couple who adopt a young Indian boy, shot on location in Kolkata, India.

Three previous Angelus winners have earned Oscar nominations, including Luke Matheny of New York University, who won an Academy Award in 2011 for Best Live Action Short for “God of Love.” Last year, Matheny joked to the Tribune that the Oscar nomination was a consolation prize after his short, which won the top Angelus Festival award in 2010, wasn’t accepted for either the Sundance or Slamdance film festivals.

The free screening of Max Zähle’s “Raju” will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Mountain Vineyard, 1401 Kearns Blvd. Zähle will be at the screening and a Q & A following it.

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The movie with the most nominations, Martin Scorsese’s family drama "Hugo," got 11 nods.

And the 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," in spite of a critical drubbing over its maudlin and exploitative handling of the World Trade Center’s collapse, picked up a Best Picture nomination even though it only received one other nomination (for supporting actor Max von Sydow).

The nine Best Picture nominees, announced Tuesday in Hollywood, are: The silent Hollywood comedy "The Artist"; the family-in-grief drama "The Descendants"; "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"; the Southern period drama "The Help"; "Hugo"; the time-travel comedy "Midnight in Paris"; the math-meets-baseball story "Moneyball"; the cosmic strangeness "The Tree of Life"; and the World War I epic "War Horse."

"The Artist," considered the favorite for Best Picture, took 10 nods, including nominations for lead actor Jean Dujardin, supporting actress Bérénice Bejo, and writing and directing honors for Michel Hazanavicius.

The matchup of "Hugo" and "The Artist" pairs two movies that celebrate of the magic of early cinema. They also represent opposite ends of the technical spectrum: "Hugo" is a 3-D technical extravaganza, while "The Artist" is a silent black-and-white comedy.

The Best Actor category may be a two-man race between Dujardin’s portrayal of a prideful silent-movie star and George Clooney’s performance in "The Descendants" as a lawyer dealing with his wife’s imminent death and her infidelity. A surprise nominee in this category is Mexican star Demián Bichir, as an undocumented laborer in "A Better Life." Also nominated are Brad Pitt as a fast-talking baseball executive in "Moneyball" and Gary Oldman as a savvy spymaster in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."

Imitation is key in the Best Actress race, pitting Meryl Streep’s take on Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" against Michelle Williams’ version of Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn." Also nominated are Glenn Close as a cross-dressing waiter in "Albert Nobbs," Viola Davis as a Deep South maid in "The Help," and Rooney Mara as the anti-social hacker in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

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Two of Davis’ "The Help" co-stars received supporting-actress nominations: Octavia Spencer, who played a sassy maid, and Jessica Chastain, as an outcast Southern belle. Also nominated are Bejo as an ingenue in "The Artist," Janet McTeer as a painter hiding her feminine identity in "Albert Nobbs," and a surprise nomination for Melissa McCarthy as the uncouth member of the bridal party in "Bridesmaids."

In the supporting-actor category, it’s a race among three veterans: Christopher Plummer, as a man who announces his homosexuality late in life, in "Beginners"; Nick Nolte, as the troubled father of two fighters, in "Warrior"; and Von Sydow, as a mute man with a secret in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." Also in the running are Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Laurence Olivier in "My Week With Marilyn" and Jonah Hill as Brad Pitt’s number-crunching assistant in "Moneyball."

Hazanavicius and Scorsese face off in the Best Director category, along with Alexander Payne for "The Descendants," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" and Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life."

Two unknown European films - "A Cat in Paris" from France, and "Chico & Rita" from Spain - made surprising appearances in the animated feature category. The other nominees are DreamWorks’ franchise films "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots," and the offbeat Western "Rango." (Pixar, which has won the category the last four years, didn’t make the cut with "Cars 2.")

Of course, there can’t be Oscar nominations without talk of who got snubbed.

The most glaring omission in many minds is Albert Brooks, for his non-comedic turn as a nasty gangster in "Drive." ("Drive" received only one nomination, for sound editing, in spite of massive critical support.)

Oscar voters also passed up actors Andy Serkis, whose performance-capture work brought the chimp Caesar to life in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and Michael Fassbender’s often-naked turn as a sex addict in "Shame."

Two of last year’s highly touted Sundance Film Festival hits were left without nominations: "Martha Marcy May Marlene," which received acclaim for Elizabeth Olsen’s star-making performance as a cult escapee; and "Take Shelter," notable for Michael Shannon’s portrayal of a man receiving apocalyptic visions.

The 85th annual Academy Awards will be handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. The show, with returning emcee Billy Crystal, will be televised on ABC (KTVX, Ch. 4, in Salt Lake City).


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