Oscar best picture: 'Extremely Loud,' 'Tree of Life' among 9 nominees
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has spoken: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse" will compete for the best picture Oscar at the 84th Academy Awards.
Heading into the race, "The Artist," the black-and-white ode to the silent film era, and "The Descendants," writer-director Alexander Payne's Hawaii-set family drama starring George Clooney, appeared to be shaping up as the front-runners; both films fared well at the Golden Globes earlier this month, and "The Artist" took the Producers Guild's top prize over the weekend.
The inclusion of director Stephen Daldry's 9/11 film, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," and Terrence Malick's meditative "The Tree of Life" were anything but sure bets. Their nominations add some excitement to speculation over which film might take the ultimate prize.
Last year's comedic breakout film "Midnight in Paris" will come as welcome news to critics who've said the academy is too focused on drama or indie prestige pictures. Likewise, the civil rights era drama "The Help" could be considered a crowd-pleaser -- the ensemble film based on Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel has earned roughly $170 million at the domestic box office.
The Oscars will be handed out Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. ABC will broadcast the ceremony, which veteran Billy Crystal will host.
Check back on 24 Frames for detailed analysis of the nominations and reactions from the nominees themselves.
-- Gina McIntyre
Photo: Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist" Credit: Weinstein Co.