Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ Tops Oscar Nominations With 11, Including Best Picture

“Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D movie, was nominated for 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director, as Hollywood prepared to honor its top 2011 films. Brad Pitt and George Clooney will vie for best actor.

“The Artist,” the tribute to the silent-picture era, received 10 nominations, including best film and best director, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said today at a news conference in Beverly Hills, California. In all, nine pictures were nominated for the top Oscar.

“This gives us a horse race,” said Academy President Tom Sherak, who announced the finalists with Jennifer Lawrence, a nominee for best actress last year for her role in the drama “Winter’s Bone.”

Best-picture nominations and the publicity that follows boost box-office and home-video sales for Oscar contenders. Ticket sales for last year’s winner, “The King’s Speech” rose 41 percent on the first weekend after the film was nominated. The annual awards show, scheduled for Feb. 26 on ABC, attracted 37.9 million viewers last year to rank as the most-watched single, non-sports telecast, according to Nielsen.

In addition to “Hugo” and “The Artist,” best-picture nominees included “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” and “War Horse.”

“The studios increase their marketing efforts and people really do respond to the buzz,” said Agata Kaczanowska, entertainment analyst for Santa Monica, California-based IbisWorld, an industry researcher.

Studio Winners

Counting feature-length films with two or more nominations, Sony (6758) Pictures Entertainment led with 17, including six for “Moneyball,” and five for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Paramount Pictures, owned by Viacom Inc., and Weinstein Co. tied for second with 14 each.

From 2006 to 2010, best-picture winners on average had $57.2 million in box-office sales heading into the nominations and $42.9 million afterward, Kaczanowska said in an interview before the announcement. Runners-up averaged about $90 million at the box office, with roughly 20 percent following the nominations and the awards telecast.

Academy members can nominate from five to 10 movies for best picture under new rules announced in June. The actual number for this year wasn’t known until today’s announcement.

Best Actors

The nominees for best actor are Demián Bechir, for “A Better Life,” Clooney for “The Descendants,” Jean Dujardin for “The Artist,” Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and Pitt for “Moneyball.”

The best actress nominees are Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs,” Viola Davis for “The Help,” Rooney Mara for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams for “My Week With Marilyn.”

“Hugo,” from Paramount, tells the story of an orphaned boy who lives secretly within the walls and clock tower of a train station. The film stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz and Ben Kingsley. Scorsese captured the Golden Globe directing award this month for his effort.

“The Artist,” silent and in black and white, focuses on an actor whose career is threatened by the advent of talking pictures and the affection of a young dancer working toward her big break. The picture, which won three Golden Globe awards this month, features Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and John Goodman.

Michel Hazanavicius directed and Weinstein distributed in the U.S. The film, made for about $15 million, has collected $33.2 million in ticket sales worldwide as of Jan. 22, according to Box Office Mojo, an industry researcher.

‘Moneyball’

The nominations for “Moneyball” included one for Jonah Hill in a supporting role. Hill plays the computer nerd who helps Billy Beane, the budget-constrained manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team played by Pitt, to find the players who can make his team a contender.

“War Horse” collected six nominations. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film tells the story of a horse that is sold to the cavalry during World War I and his young owner who later joins the military. The movie, distributed by Walt Disney Co. (DIS), is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch star.

In “The Descendants,” with five nominations, Clooney plays an indifferent father who attempts to connect with his daughters and manage the affairs of his extended Hawaiian family after a boating accident leaves his wife comatose. The film, from News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox Searchlight, captured two Golden Globes, for best film drama and a best actor award for Clooney.

Hollywood’s Tough Year

The nominations come against the backdrop of a tough year at home for Hollywood, with theater attendance falling to 16- year low in 2011 and spending on home video shrinking 2.1 percent, according to Hollywood.com and the Digital Entertainment Group, a studio-backed trade association.

Actor-comedian Billy Crystal will host the ABC telecast. He was named to headline the program in November, replacing Eddie Murphy, who withdrew after the producer he was working with, Brett Ratner, quit the show.

“We’ve got Billy Crystal, who’s incredibly organized,” Brian Grazer, co-producer of the telecast, said in an interview. “We brought him on because what he does is satisfy the audience. He’s going to do what he does.”

NOMINEES

Best motion picture of the year:

“The Artist” (Weinstein)
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight)
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.)
“The Help” (Touchstone)
“Hugo” (Paramount)
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight)
“War Horse” (Touchstone)

Best animated feature film of the year:

“A Cat in Paris” (GKIDS)
“Chico & Rita” (GKIDS)
“Kung Fu Panda 2” (DreamWorks Animation, Paramount)
“Puss in Boots” (DreamWorks Animation, Paramount)
“Rango” (Paramount)

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

Demián Bichir in “A Better Life” (Summit Entertainment)
George Clooney in “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight)
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist” (Weinstein)
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features)
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn” (Weinstein)
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Nick Nolte in “Warrior” (Lionsgate)
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” (Focus Features)
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner
Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role:

Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
Viola Davis in “The Help” (Touchstone)
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony
Pictures Releasing)
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” (Weinstein)
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn” (Weinstein)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:

Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist” (Weinstein)
Jessica Chastain in “The Help” (Touchstone)
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” (Universal)
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
Octavia Spencer in “The Help” (Touchstone)

Achievement in directing:

“The Artist” (Weinstein), Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight), Alexander Payne
“Hugo” (Paramount), Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics), Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight), Terrence Malick

Adapted screenplay:

“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Alexander
Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
“Hugo” (Paramount), Screenplay by John Logan
“The Ides of March” (Sony Pictures Releasing), Screenplay by
George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
“Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing), Screenplay by Steven
Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features), Screenplay by
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Original screenplay:

“The Artist” (Weinstein), by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” (Universal), by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” (Roadside Attractions), by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics), by Woody Allen
“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics), by Asghar Farhadi

Best foreign language film of the year:

“Bullhead”                        Belgium
“Footnote”                        Israel
“In Darkness”                     Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar”                 Canada
“A Separation”                    Iran

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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