24 January 2012
Last updated at 16:58
Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, is his first foray into 3D. Starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield (pictured), the film is a celebration of early cinema. Set in 1930s Paris, young Hugo must try to unlock a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. It leads the field with 11 nominations, including best picture and director, it is also in the running for its cinematography and visual effects.
Silent film The Artist has landed 10 nods in all, including for director Michel Hazanavicius and his real-life wife Berenice Bejo for best supporting actress. Lead actor Jean Dujardin will be hoping to replicate his success at the Golden Globes earlier this month. In the film, a charming yet stubborn star of the silent era is forced to face up to the advent of "talkies" and the meteroric rise of a young actress.
Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson, is film-maker Woody Allen's 41st film. He is also in the running for best director, a category he has been included in six times already, winning in 1977 for Annie Hall. Allen's last Oscar came in 1987 for the screenplay of Hannah and her Sisters. Midnight in Paris sees Wilson as an American writer who finds himself transported back in time, to the era of Salvador Dali and F Scott Fitzgerald.
In contrast to Woody Allen's prolific output over the years, The Tree of Life - starring Brad Pitt - is Terrence Malick's fifth film since 1973. The ambitious project, which delighted some critics and confounded others, probes the meaning of life by way of a man's childhood memories interspersed with imagery of the universe's origins. It is the first of two films starring Pitt which are in the best picture shortlist.
The Help, a racial drama set in the 1960s, is another film which has gathered a collection of nominations. A young author decides to write a book detailing African-American maids' point of view about the white families they work for. A huge hit in the US, it has six nominations including nods for actresses Viola Davis and (pictured right) Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.
The second Brad Pitt film to be nominated is Moneyball - for which he has also landed a best actor nod for his role as baseball manager Billy Beane. The film sees Pitt's character take over an ailing team and, with the help of his number-crunching assistant - played by supporting actor-nominated Jonah Hill - leads them to glory. Director Bennett Miller was previously nominated for Capote in 2006.
Steven Spielberg's War Horse, the screen adaptation of the book by Michael Morpurgo, has five nominations, mostly in the technical categories. A boy, Albert Narracott, enlists during World War I after his beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry. The film has been praised for its kinetic war scenes and, in particular, the performances of the horses involved.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer and tells the tale of a young boy who loses his father in the terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001. The film has also picked up a best supporting actor for screen veteran Max Von Sydow. The film also stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and was directed by British film-maker Stephen Daldry.
George Clooney plays a middle-aged man living in Hawaii who is trying to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident in The Descendants. Nominated in the best actor category for his role as Matt King. Alexander Payne has also picked up a nomination for best director.