Last Updated: Tue Jan 24, 2012 20:06 pm (KSA) 17:06 pm (GMT)

‘Hugo’ and ‘The Artist’ top Oscar nods; Iranian film nominated for best foreign language

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak speaks at the announcement of Academy Award nominees in Beverly Hills, California. (Reuters)
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak speaks at the announcement of Academy Award nominees in Beverly Hills, California. (Reuters)

Martin Scorsese’s lavish 3D adventure “Hugo” won 11 Oscar nominations Tuesday, just ahead of hotly-tipped silent movie “The Artist” with 10 nods for Hollywood’s top awards.

Tied for third were baseball movie “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt and veteran director Steven Spielberg’s equine epic “War Horse,” which each got six nods for the Academy Awards, to be presented next month.

Meryl Streep, as expected, received her 17th Oscar nomination for a gripping performance as former British premier Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” while those shortlisted for best actor included Pitt and George Clooney.

Hugo’s nominations included the best picture category, where it is up against eight other movies including “The Artist,” which has been a favorite for the Oscars after a string of wins and nods in other awards show.

The Scorsese movie -- his debut in 3D -- is a visually rich tale set in 1930s Paris, about an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station and is obsessed with clock-making and early film pioneer Georges Melies.

The film stars British teenage actor Asa Butterfield in the title role with Ben Kingsley as Melies and British “Borat” and “Bruno” star Sacha Baron Cohen as the lugubrious station inspector.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve been recognized by the people in your industry. I congratulate my fellow nominees. It’s an impressive list, and I’m in excellent company,” Scorsese told the Hollywood Reporter.

“The Artist” has already been nominated for best film by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and won the top prize from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) last week -- both seen as key indicators of Oscars glory.

The film, a tribute to the silent movie era in which a non-talking star battles to save his career after it is torpedoed by the arrival of the “talkies,” also won the best picture Golden Globe on January 15.

The other movies nominated for best picture are “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life” and “War Horse.”

“The Artist” star Jean Dujardin was nominated for best actor, up against Clooney in “The Descendants,” Pitt in “Moneyball,” Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and Demian Bechir in “A Better Life.”

Two-time Oscar winner Streep is among best actress nominees for the latest tour de force in her long career, playing Thatcher both in her prime and dementia-shrouded old age.

Also shortlisted were Glenn Close for cross-dressing “Albert Nobbs,” Viola Davis from civil rights drama “The Help,” Michelle Williams as Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn” and Rooney Mara from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Iranian film in running

A taut domestic drama from Iran is competing against a Belgian thriller, a true Polish tale from the Holocaust and dramas from Canada and Israel in the Academy Awards race for best foreign-language film.

Nominees announced Tuesday in Los Angeles include “A Separation,” the story of a marital breakdown and its far-reaching consequences from Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi.

The widely praised film - being hailed by some as a vital cultural bridge at a time of souring relations between Iran and the West - has already won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film, and also gained Farhadi an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.

It’s up against “Footnote,” a mordant tale of rivalry between father-son Talmudic scholars by Israel’s Joseph Cedar, and “Bullhead,” a Belgian crime drama set amid the world of cattle rearing and hormone dealing by first-time feature director Michael R. Roskam.

“Bullhead” producer Bart Van Langendonck welcomed the recognition for a film that “was written so it could be appreciated all over the world, even if the theme of the cattle mafia is extremely Belgian.”

The nominees also include the gritty, realistic “In Darkness” by Poland’s Agnieszka Holland, based on the true story of Leopold Socha, a Polish petty criminal who hid Jews from the Nazis in the sewage canals of Lviv during World War II.

It’s a third Oscar nomination for 63-year-old Holland, one of the country’s best-known directors, after “Europa Europa” and “Angry Harvest,” both of which also dealt with the Holocaust.

The final contender is “Monsieur Lazhar,” the story of an Algerian immigrant substitute teacher who helps a group of children get over a death by Canada’s Philippe Falardeau.

It’s the second straight year a filmmaker from Quebec has made the shortlist. Denis Villeneuve was nominated last year for his war drama “Incendies.”

This year’s Oscars contest already has an international flavor. The race is led by Martin Scorsese’s Parisian fantasia “Hugo,” with 11 nominations, and “The Artist,” a French-made silent tale of old Hollywood, with 10.

Winners of the 84th annual Oscars will be announced at a Feb. 26 ceremony at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.

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