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Winter's Bone surprises with high-profile Oscar nods

<em>The King’s Speech</em> led this year’s Academy Award nominations with 12.

The King’s Speech led this year’s Academy Award nominations with 12, including Best Picture as well as Best Director for Tom Hooper, Best Actor for Colin Firth, Best Supporting Actor for Geoffrey Rush and Best Supporting Actress for Helena Bonham Carter. The Coen Brothers’ update of True Grit received 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jeff Bridges, who beat Firth in that category last year.

The other nominees for Best Picture are Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone. As expected, Golden Globe-winning actresses Natalie Portman and Annette Bening scored nominations for Best Actress and are considered the front-runners, ahead of Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine). Competing against Firth and Bridges for Best Actor are Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and James Franco (127 Hours).

The real surprise this year came with the quiet independent film Winter’s Bone, which landed nominations in four high-profile categories: Best Picture, Best Actress (Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes) and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film about a stark life of poverty in the Ozarks was a favourite at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. David Fincher’s The Social Network, which has won an impressive number of critics’ association awards and the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, received eight nominations, including nods for Fincher, lead actor Eisenberg, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and score composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

With 10 films up for Best Picture a second year in a row, some experts look to the Best Director nominees to determine which five are the real front-runners for the top prize. This year, those five are Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, David O. Russell for The Fighter, Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, David Fincher for The Social Network and Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit. While Christopher Nolan’s inventive Inception racked up eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, Nolan was shut out of the directing category.

The Academy Awards will be awarded in Hollywood on February 27.

 
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