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    Oscars 2012: Nominations for George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Rooney Mara—but What About Bridesmaids?

    The Descendants, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball Columbia TriStar; Fox Searchlight; Sony Pictures

    George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Rooney Mara and—yes and no—Bridesmaids.

    Billy Crystal's monologue fodder is set. 

    Here are the highlights from this morning's Academy Awards nominations:

    OSCAR NOMS: Get the complete list

    As expected, heavy favorite The Artist will compete for Best Picture; however, it was Martin Scorsese's Hugo scoring the most overall nods, with 11 to The Artist's 10. No other film was in double digits.

    The Artist and Hugo lead a Best Picture field that ended up with nine contenders. (Remember: This time out, under a rules change, anywhere from five to 10 films could have been nominated.)

    The other Best Picture nominees range from the widely predicted (The Descendants, The HelpMidnight in Paris and Moneyball) to the bubble-films-made-good (The Tree of Life and War Horse) to the wildest of wild cards (the A-list-laden, but awards-season non-factor, up 'til now, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

    Of all those films, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Moneyball and War Horse will face the longest Best Picture odds as they didn't land their respective filmmakers in the Best Director category, which holds to just five nominees, including Scorsese.   

    The Best Actor race makes adversaries of pals Clooney and Pitt, up for The Descendants and Moneyball, respectively. Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Demián Bichir (A Better Life), both Screen Actors Guild nominees, like Clooney and Pitt, round out the category, along with dark horse Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). 

    Photos: 10 Best Things Ever Said at the Oscars

    The Best Actress field sets the stage for the anticipated Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Viola Davis (The Help) showdown.

    Mara, meanwhile, made good on the Lisbeth Salander hype with a nomination, her first, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. My Week With Marilyn's Michelle Williams and Albert Nobbs' Glenn Close are the other Best Actress contenders.

    Melissa McCarthy represents for Bridesmaids in Best Supporting Actress. The comedy, passed over for Best Picture, also snagged an Original Screenplay nod for star Kristen Wiig and cowriter Annie Mumolo.

    McCarthy's chief competition will come from presumed front-runner Octavia Spencer (The Help), although The Artist's legion of fans would argue Bérénice Bejo is no slouch, especially considering her role was beefy enough for the British Academy Film Awards to nominate her as a lead actress.

    Golden Globes winner Christopher Plummer will be the sentimental favorite for Best Supporting Actor, a field that includes Jonah Hill, a comic who figured out the Oscar game—he made a drama (Moneyball).

    Other nominations of note:

    • As a producer of Moneyball, Pitt's a double-nominee; if the movie wins Best Picture, he wins Best Picture.
    • Not letting Pitt get the advantage, Clooney's also a double-nominee. His second nod is for cowriting his political drama, The Ides of March, up for Adapted Screenplay.
    • Streep's nomination is her 17th, topping her own record for performers. The actress, however, hasn't won since before Mara was born.
    • Close, who has never won, is now on her sixth nomination. 
    • Composer John Williams personally composes two-fifths of the Original Score category, with nods for The Adventure of Tintin and War Horse. The nominations are Williams' 46th and 47th. Woody Allen, a relative newcomer by comparison, notched Nos. 22 and 23 for writing and directing Midnight in Paris
    • The Artist is the first black-and-white Best Picture nominee since Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. And, should you be wondering, the last silent film to win Best Picture was the only silent film (so far) to win Best Picture, 1927's Wings.    

    The 84th Annual Academy Awards, with returning host Crystal, are set for Feb. 26.

    (Originally published at 5:49 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2012)

    PHOTOS: 2012 Oscars Cheat Sheet!

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