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The 85th Academy Awards will be presented February 24. And the nominees are . . .
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan
On a broad scale, the visually-audacious film -- incorporating lush visual effects and 3-D cinematography -- is a celebration of the power of storytelling and the search for meaning in the universe. But it is also a tale of how one young man's life was changed owing to his insatiable curiosity, intelligence and compassion.
The 20th Century Fox release was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
"The tiger is not your friend!" his father says. "Animals don't think like we do; people who forget that get themselves killed!"
The adventure -- told in flashback by the elder Pi to a visiting writer -- promises to prove the existence of God, but in ways unpredictable to the young man.
His isolation with Richard Parker leads to further questioning about the meaning of life, and whether his father was right about animal consciousness. To the filmmakers' great credit, the animals are never anthropomorphized; their behavior is accurate, and as mesmerizing as in a nature documentary involving predators and prey.
"I wanted the experience of the film to be as unique as Yann Martel's book," said Lee, "and that meant creating the film in another dimension. 3-D is a new cinematic language, and in 'Life of Pi' it's just as much about immersing audiences in the characters' emotional space as it is about the epic scale and adventure."
The storms at sea, including the sinking ocean liner, were created by effects house MPC.
In all, about 1,300 digital artists worked on "Life of Pi."
Actor Suraj Sharma spent much of the shoot in the largest self-generating wave tank ever constructed for a film, in Taichung, Taiwan. The tank measured more than 200 feet long, 100 feet wide and 13 feet deep, and contained 1.7 million gallons of water, which could be manipulated to create different conditions. The set was augmented for green-screen filming, in order to accommodated digitally created waves, skies, and even a computer construct of the lifeboat itself, in addition to the animals joining Pi on his journey.
"The ocean has its own moods," Sharma said. "It can feel like a monster, or it can be a mirror. It's both a killer and a savior. The ocean is a beautiful thing."
A prize-winner at the Sundance Film Festival, the Fox Searchlight release by first-time director Behn Zeitlin is nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Adapted from Lucy Alibar's stage play "Juicy and Delicious," and photographed in luminous 16mm, "Beasts" captures a child's-eye view of unrelenting Nature, and the scope of a world that is both a territory to be claimed as one's birthright and beyond one's ability to control.
"She was always the most gigantic personality in the room," Zeitlin told CBS News.
"It's not right to throw things at people you don't know - she was being defiant, but she was being defiant on the grounds of right and wrong," said Zeitlin. "And that's who Hushpuppy is. She's this incredibly defiant warrior girl. I don't think I could have articulated that about her character until that moment in the audition."
Left: Wallis as Hushpuppy, opposite Dwight Henry as her father, Wink.
As it was for Wallis, "Beasts" was the first acting role for Henry, a baker whose shop was across the street from the film's production office. On a lark he went for an audition, and to impress his prospective leading lady brought boxes of goodies. "She looked at the boxes, the big, beautiful eyes opened up, and she smiled," Henry told CBS News' Michelle Miller. "And I knew I had the part. I knew I had it!"
No only did he get the part; Henry won the Best Supporting Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Ben Affleck directed and stars in this thriller, based on those true events, about a CIA analyst's plan to rescue the Americans by pretending they are members of a Canadian film crew preparing to shoot a science fiction movie.
The Warner Brothers release was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
First revealed by Mendez in his 2000 book, "The Master of Disguise," and then in a 2006 Wired article, it was a plot that, if a screenwriter had concocted it, no studio exec would have thought believable.
Certain real-life people were combined as characters (the Americans were held at two Canadian diplomats' homes, not one), and suspense elements were heightened.
"It is, after all, a drama," Affleck said. "But we were very fortunate in that we could stay faithful to the spirit of what happened, because the truth of what happened was incredibly compelling."
"I wanted them to get comfortable with one another in a way that felt natural," Affleck said. "It's much harder to 'act' familiarity. It's more of a chemical thing; your body relaxes and you adopt a certain posture and talk to people differently."
Left: Afleck accepts the award for Best Director for "Argo" during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Affleck also won the top prize from the Directors Guild of America.
A Sony Pictures Classics release nominated for five Academy Awards, "Amour" is the first foreign-language film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar since 2006's "Letters From Iwo Jima."
But Georges' attempt to protect his wife is questioned by their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), who feels shunted aside from the crisis facing her mother.
Haneke said the film -- confined to the couple's Parisian apartment -- was natural in that, "When you're old and you're elderly, life is reduced to the four walls that you live in.
"I could have opened the story up -- I could have made drama that included everything around, scenes in hospital, everything, to make this a socially critical film that you often see on television, but that wasn't my concern. What I was focusing on was the love story."
Haneke (pictured with Trintignant) received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for "Amour."
Emmanuelle Riva came to international attention with her performance in Alain Renais' 1959 drama "Hiroshima, mon amour" (pictured top, with Eiji Okada). Riva's other credits include Jean-Pierre Melville's "Leon Morin, Priest," Marco Bellocchio's "The Eyes, The Mouth," and Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors: Blue." With her Oscar nomination for "Amour," Riva becomes the oldest performer ever to receive a Best Actress nomination. (Previously, Best Actress winner Jessica Tandy for "Driving Miss Daisy" and nominee Edith Evans for "The Whisperers" were honored at age 80.)
Jean Louis Trintignant (pictured with Anouk Aimee in Claude Lelouch's 1966 romance "A Man and a Woman") has appeared in nearly 140 films and TV movies, including Rene Clement's "Is Paris Burning," Costa-Gavras' "Z," Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's," Ettore Scola's "Passione d'amore," Francois Truffaut's "Confidentially Yours," and Kieslowski's "Three Colors: Red."
Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), the film received Best Picture and Best Director Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. But it has also stirred controversy in some quarters for its depiction of torture by U.S. intelligence agents -- dramatizations which some accuse of condoning the practice, but which Bigelow says merely represent a truthful telling of the decade-long war on terror.
"We never requested classified information or was I aware that classified information was coming my way," she told CBS News' Charlie Rose, reiterating that "to the best of our knowledge," they did not receive information that compromised American intelligence operatives.
Bigelow did say that the film's characters are "all based on real people," and in some cases represent combinations of real figures.
Chastain told the Hollywood Reporter that, while shooting scenes in which she witnessed torture, she had to go against everything she had learned as an actress. "I'm playing a character that's been trained to be unemotional and analytically precise. My whole life, I've been trained to be emotional," she said. "During those scenes, anything I felt -- it was like wearing a straitjacket."
However, among "Zero Dark Thirty"'s technical crew, editors William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor, and sound editor Paul N.J. Ottosson, were nominated.
This affecting comedy-drama, adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick, is a compassionate look at the challenges faced by families touched by bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses -- and a mature take on movie romance.
The Weinstein Company release was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
More fascinating for Russell was the deeply personal hold the story had for him, since his 18-year-old son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. "My son, I've been through this with my son and his friend, and that's why I did the movie," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "So when it's personal, you know that you're coming from the right place. You're not coming from a reckless place. You're coming from a very careful place."
In fact, Russell gave his son Matthew a small part, that of an obtrusive and rather uncaring neighbor.
But some of that pressure was relieved by the natural chemistry Cooper and co-star Jennifer Lawrence had onscreen. "You can't fake that," Cooper said, adding, "That's just luck."
Her other credits include "The Burning Plain," "Like Crazy," "X-Men: First Class." "The Hunger Games," "House at the End of the Street," and the upcoming "Serena" (also co-starring Bradley Cooper), and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
Veteran Australian actress Jacki Weaver ("Picnic at Hanging Rock"), a past Best Supporting Actress nominee for "Animal Kingdom," also received an Oscar nod, for Best Supporting Actress, making "Silver Linings Playbook" the first film since 1981's "Reds" to receive nominations in all four acting categories.
"The Fighter" (2010) earned Russell his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and Oscars for two of his actors, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.
The film pays homage to spaghetti Westerns and genre films, and is thus rampant with bloody violence and humor, embroidered with dialogue that is colorful, cutting and full of surprises -- not to mention more expressions of the "N-word" than any movie in recent memory.
The Weinstein Company release was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Jamie Foxx had high praise for his director, without mincing words: "There's Hollywood, and then there's Quentin Tarantino," he told CBSNews.com's Jessica Derschowitz.
Kelly Washington (Brunhilda) said of the director, "He is not afraid of violence, and darkness, and the dark side of the soul."
"I like evoking the Django title for what it means to spaghetti Westerns and that mythology," Tarantino said. "At the same time, there's a 40-film series of non-related 'Django' rip-off sequels that are their own spot of spaghetti Western history. I'm proud to say that we are a new edition to the unrelated 'Django' rip-off sequels."
"His daddy's daddy's daddy started a cotton business and his daddy's daddy continued it and made it profitable, and his daddy made it even more profitable. Now, he's the fourth Candie in line to take over the cotton business and he's bored with it," the director said. "He doesn't care about cotton: that's why he's into the Mandingo fighters. But he's the petulant boy prince. He's Louis XIV in Versailles.
"So I wanted to really play with that idea, of King Louis XIV, but in the South . . . a fiefdom. He has the power of a king; he can execute people, or do whatever he wants."
Jackson said he was attracted to "Django" because the film did not whitewash this period of history. Also, he said, "It's always great to find a character on the inside of one of Quentin's stories to wrap myself around."
Shooting on film (as opposed to the 3-D "Hugo"), with widescreen anamorphic lenses, Richardson emulated the stylization of Italian spaghetti Westerns, and faced the challenge of lighting enormous vistas to simulate moonlight, as well as the dark, interior scenes of bloody violence. Locations included Simi Valley and Santa Clarita, Calif. (standing in for Texas); Jackson Hole, Wyo.; New Orleans, La.; and a historic plantation in Wallace, La., called Evergreen (which doubled as Candieland).
Waltz, who was known primarily to European television audiences before Tarantino picked him to play Col. Hans Landa in "Inglourious Basterds," said, "Quentin, you know that my indebtedness to you and my gratitude knows no words."
Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," and written by Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner ("Angels in America"), "Lincoln" is a vivid demonstration of the potency of political gamesmanship. At a time when our political system seems frozen by gridlock, the film shows how by sheer force of personality (and some carefully doled-out patronage jobs), mountains can be moved, and society can be forever changed.
Showcasing a masterful, Oscar-nominated performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, the DreamWorks release leads the race for this year's Academy Awards, with 12 nominations, including Best Picture.
"When he finally signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he told an old friend of his (who had been with him when he had been earlier depressed, at one point he was almost suicidal), he said, 'I wish in a certain sense I could die, but I haven't done anything yet to be remembered by.' It's an incredible thing. It is not just ambition for power, it's not just for office. It's something larger. It was even larger than emancipation. It was to keep this democracy -- that was a beacon of hope to the world -- alive. If we had split apart, it would have been over."
Day-Lewis originally turned down Spielberg's offer to play Lincoln, based on earlier drafts of the screenplay. "As fascinated as I was by Abe, it was the fascination of a grateful spectator who longed to see a story told, rather than that of a participant," he wrote to the director.
Yet by the time he completed filming, Day-Lewis said of Lincoln, "I never, ever felt that depth of love for another human being that I never met."
Field told CBS News' Mo Rocca she could not walk away from the role, telling Spielberg, "I am Mary," and bringing up the feistiness to demand a screen test.
Her pluck paid off. Daniel Day-Lewis flew from Ireland to test with her, and when they met for the first time they were both in full costume. "Everyone fell away and it was only him walking toward me with this hat on, head cocked to the side and a slight smirk on his face. And I gave him my smirk back and waited till he was at my side. I rose and gave him my hand. He kissed it. I said, 'Mr. Lincoln.' He said, 'Mother.' And that's the way they addressed each other in real life - he either called her Mother or Molly."
Mary and her Abraham connected instantly - in a very modern way. "He started texting me, he would text me all the time, totally in character," Field said, "Sometimes he would just send me bizarre limericks. And I, as Mary, would write back, usually criticizing him," she laughed.
The women characters' dresses were treasures, Johnston said, "because there were so few of them."
Jones received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance.
"I've always wanted to tell a story about Lincoln. I saw a paternal father figure, someone who was completely, stubbornly committed to his ideals, his vision," he told CBS News' Lesley Stahl. "I think the film is very relevant for today. It's about leadership."
Spielberg said he and Williams made a conscious decision not to compete with the voice of actor Daniel Day-Lewis. "So we both exercised enormous restraint -- John with his orchestration, and me with my fancy shots," the director told CBS News. "I think both of us pulled back a bit, maybe stood in Lincoln's shadow."
For "Lincoln," Williams (a five-time Oscar-winner) received his 48th Academy Award nomination -- the most ever for a living honoree.
Play excerpt: "The People's House" from "Lincoln"
In addition to many critics groups' accolades, Day-Lewis also won the BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance.
Filmed in England and France, the Universal Pictures release was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Having remade himself as a community leader and business owner, Valjean crosses paths with a former employee of his factory, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), whose degradation and descent into a life of prostitution spurs him to help her and her young daughter, as Javert remains hot on his heels.
First staged in France in 1980, the musical based on Victor Hugo's drama set in Revolutionary France (featuring music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, and lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel) was subsequently translated into 21 languages, and enjoyed long runs on London's West End, on Broadway, and around the globe.
Among the most-discussed directorial decisions made by Hooper was the choice to record the actors singing live on the set, rather than have them lip-sync to previously-recorded studio sessions. Though "Les Mis" was not the first movie to feature live performances ("Across the Universe" made use of the technique), it was used throughout, for a film with virtually no spoken dialogue.
"The problem when you're singing to playback is that it denies the actor of being in the moment because they have to stick to the millisecond of a plan laid down months before," he said. "Whereas, when they sing live, an actor has the freedom to create the illusion that the character is acting in the moment, which has a profound effect on the power and the realism of the performance."
Stewart previously received Oscar nominations for "The King's Speech" and Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy."
His film resume reflects a decidedly un-musical bias: The "X-Men" franchise, "Real Steel," "Australia," Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige," Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain," "Kate & Leopold," Woody Allen's "Scoop," "Van Helsing" and "Deception."
Jackman, who lost weight and even went without water for his early scenes as an emaciated convict, said of Valjean, "I've never had a role require more of me or take as much of a physical and emotional commitment." He received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for "Les Miserables."
Previously nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for "Rachel Getting Married," Hathaway received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her "Les Miserables" performance, the highlight of which was her singing "I Dreamed a Dream."
She was supportive of singing live on set: "When you have a story this dramatic, where there's no dialogue to see you through, and where everything is so in-the-moment, it's a lot of pressure to have to sing all the time, but it's still so spontaneous," she said. "It's a risk, but the benefits outweigh the potential cost."
Hathaway's performance also comes with a family pedigree: her mother, actress Kate McCauley Hathaway, played the same role in the U.S. touring company when Anne was seven years old.
"Javert is a man with a very specific morality and a specific understanding of the way the world works: what is good and what is evil," he said. "When he is proved wrong, when a man he believes to be bad turns out to be good, Javert is broken."
She previously played Meryl Streep's daughter in the ABBA musical "Mamma Mia!," Seyfried's other credits include "Mean Girls"; "In Time," co-starring Justin Timberlake; "Red Riding Hood"; "Dear John"; "Letters to Juliet"; "Chloe"; "Gone"; and HBO's "Big Love."
Coming up for Seyfried:" The drama "Lovelace," about the world's first adult film star; and the comedy "The Big Wedding," starring opposite Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Katherine Heigl.
Making her feature film debut, Barks has already made a name for herself on the U.K. stage, in the musicals "Aladdin" and "Cabaret." She played Eponine opposite Nick Jonas in the 25th anniversary "Les Miserables" concert.
Redmayne, a Tony- and Olivier Award-winner for Michael Grandage's "Red," starred opposite Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn." His other credits include the films "The Yellow Handkerchief," "Black Death," "Powder Blue," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "The Other Boleyn Girl," and "The Good Shepherd," and the TV productions of "The Pillars of the Earth" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles."
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By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan