- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. | The British monarchy saga “The King’s Speech” reigned at the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including acting honors for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, positioning itself to challenge “The Social Network” for best picture.

The King’s Speech” gained momentum against the Facebook drama, which dominated early Hollywood awards. “The Social Network” won best drama at the Golden Globes and was picked as the year’s best by key critics groups, while “The King’s Speech” pulled an upset last weekend by winning the Producers Guild of America Awards top prize, whose recipient often goes on to claim best picture at the Oscars.

“I’ve been texting people in between interviews, and there’s a lot of excitement going on across the globe from our team. It’s really wonderful. It’s sort of like ‘Ben-Hur’ proportions. It all seems a bit crazy, you know?” said supporting-actor nominee Mr. Rush, an Oscar winner for 1996’s “Shine.”

Along with those two films, other best-picture nominees for the Feb. 27 Oscars are the psychosexual thriller “Black Swan”; the boxing drama “The Fighter”; the sci-fi blockbuster “Inception”; the lesbian-family tale “The Kids Are All Right”; the survival story “127 Hours”; the animated smash “Toy Story 3”; the Western “True Grit”; and the Ozarks crime thriller “Winter’s Bone.”

“True Grit” ran second overall with 10 nominations, including acting honors for last year’s best-actor winner Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld appear in a scene from "True Grit." The film was nominated for an Academy Award for best film. It ran second overall with 10 nominations, including acting honors for last year's best-actor winner Mr. Bridges and Miss Steinfeld. The Oscars will be presented Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. (Associated Press)
Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld appear in a scene from “True Grit.” ... more >

Along with Mr. Rush, best-actor favorite Mr. Firth and supporting-actress contender Miss Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech” had nominations for director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler, plus honors in such categories as cinematography, costume design, art direction and musical score.

Supporting-actor favorite Christian Bale was nominated for “The Fighter.” The best-actress field shapes up as a two-woman race between Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” who won the Globe for actress in a musical or comedy, and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan,” who received the Globe for dramatic actress.

The supporting-actress Oscar could prove the most competitive among acting prizes. Melissa Leo won the Globe for “The Fighter,” but she faces strong challenges from that film’s co-star Amy Adams and 14-year-old newcomer Miss Steinfeld, who missed out on a Globe nomination for “True Grit” but made the cut for supporting actress at the Oscars.

“I’m still reeling from the Golden Globe and its extraordinary and unique recognition,” said Miss Leo, whose film emerged late last year as a low-budget underdog that parallels its own story of a late-blooming boxer who gets a title shot. “Is it art imitates life, or life is imitating art? What happened?”

Miss Adams found out she had won her third Oscar nomination when the phone rang. “This one is special in that I really played a role that was so different for me and it was nerve-racking and it’s just so nice that it’s being recognized and being recognized with the film.”

For the second-straight year, the Oscars feature 10 best-picture contenders after organizers doubled the field from the usual five to open the awards up to a broader range of films. But even in a field of 10, the prize likely comes down to two films.

David Fincher is the best-directing favorite for “The Social Network” after winning that prize at the Globes.

Along with Mr. Firth and Mr. Eisenberg, best-actor contenders are Javier Bardem as a dying father in the Spanish-language drama “Biutiful,” which also is up for best foreign-language film; Mr. Bridges as boozy lawman Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” a role that earned John Wayne an Oscar for the 1969 adaptation of the Western novel; and James Franco in the real-life tale of a climber trapped in a crevasse after a boulder crushes his arm in “127 Hours.”

Miss Bening was nominated for best actress as a lesbian mom whose family is thrown into turmoil after her teenage children seek out their sperm-donor father in “The Kids Are All Right.” Miss Portman was nominated as a ballerina losing her grip on reality in “Black Swan.”

Other best-actress nominees are Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother in “Rabbit Hole”; Jennifer Lawrence as a teen trying to find her missing father amid the Ozark Mountains’ criminal underbelly in “Winter’s Bone”; and Michelle Williams as a wife in a failing marriage in “Blue Valentine.”

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