It's a case of Margaret Thatcher versus Marilyn Monroe in this year's Oscar nominations, after Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams led the contenders for the Best Actress category.
Streep scored a record seventeenth Oscar nomination for her controversial portrait of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, but will have to compete against Michelle Williams for Best Actress for her role in My Week With Marilyn.
The 62-year-old actress is in the running for the film The Iron Lady in which she plays Maggie as a befuddled old lady looking back over highlights of her career. Streep has won two Oscars but the last time she took a golden statuette home was for Sophie’s Choice twenty-nine years ago.
Streep has five more nominations than Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, who are tied for second-place.
Streep and Williams also have to compete against Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis for The Help and Rooney Mara in The Girl With Dragon Tattoo in the Best Actress category.
Streep won two-for-four on her first nominations, winning supporting actress for 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer and best actress for 1982's Sophie's Choice. But she has lost her last 12 times, and the Globe win for uncanny portrayal of Thatcher looks like her best chance yet to break that losing streak.
'I am honored to be in company with such beautiful artists, and touched deeply by my fellow actors for their generosity in giving me this acknowledgment,' Streep said today.
Along with Streep and Williams, best-actress nominees are: Glenn Close as a 19th century Irishwoman masquerading as a male butler in Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis as a black maid going public with tales of white Southern employers in The Help and Rooney Mara as a traumatised, vengeful computer genius in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Octavia Spencer's win at the Globes as supporting-actress for The Help in which she plays a fiery maid whose mouth continually gets her in trouble, could give her front-runner status for the same prize at the Oscars.
Jean Dujardin was nominated for the Best Actor award for his role in silent movie The Artist. The Globe winner who plays a silent-era star whose career goes kaput with the arrival of talking pictures, will be up against Globe dramatic actor recipient George Clooney for The Descendants in which the Oscar-winning superstar plays a father trying to hold his Hawaiian family together after a boating accident puts his wife in a coma.
However, the real battle will be between Clooney and best friend Brad Pitt who has been nominated for his role in Moneyball. Pitt stars as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in Moneyball.
Pitt was preparing breakfast for his and Oscar winner Angelina Jolie's six children when he learned of his latest nomination, his third. He decided to make pancakes - and anything else the kids were craving. 'Whatever they want,' Pitt said. 'I don't care how sugared up they get for school.'
Mexican actor Demián Bichir joins the nominees for his turn in film for A Better Life and British actor Gary Oldman and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy - the first time the 53-year-old has been recognised by the academy.
Bichir plays an immigrant father in A Better Life while Oldman's portrayal of British spymaster George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won overwhelming praise from the critics.
Supporting actor nominations went to Jonah Hill in Moneyball, Nick Nolte in Warrior, Christopher Plummer in Beginners and Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Kenneth Branagh, 51, is in the running for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Sir Laurence Olivier in Marilyn Monroe biopic My Week With Marilyn.
He said: 'It was a rare honour to play Sir Laurence Olivier. To be recognised by the Academy for doing so is overwhelming. I'm absolutely thrilled.
In the Supporting Actress category, Berenice Bejo received a nomination for The Artist, Jessica Chastain for The Help, Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs and Octavia Spencer for The Help.
There were nine best picture nominees and they included The Artist which led the field, George Clooney’s film The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and Steven Spielberg’s version of the hit book and play War Horse.
But it was Martin Scorsese’s Hugo that led the field with a staggering 11 nominations.
In all, The Artist took ten nominations, although there was sadness that the picture’s canine star Uggie was left off the ballot.The scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier was ineligible despite a campaign that was launched to get him nominated.
But you can be sure the loveable mutt will make an appearance if The Artist goes on to collect the top trophy for Best Film.
Moneyball and Warrior were way behind with six nominations each followed by The Descendants and The Girl With Dragon Tattoo both taking five nominations each. The Help and Midnight in Paris each got four nominations.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 bowed out with three nominations but the Harry Potter series was still not considered worthy of a Best Picture nomination.
Even though Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was only named in three categories it was still something of a coup because until now the film hadn’t featured in any of the awards leading up to the Oscars. However, the film is a frontrunner with The Artist in the UK Bafta film awards.
The war between Madonna and Elton John may be about to abate as neither were nominated in the original song category. Elton fell out with Madonna when Madonna’s song in her film WE won at the Golden Globes.
Voters in the Best Song section named just two songs for the award Man or Muppet from the Muppets and Real In Rio was also nominated for animated film Rio.
The nominations were announced this morning by Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak.
The Oscars ceremony, hosted by Billy Crystal, takes place on Sunday February 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Crystal, who has hosted the ceremony eight times already, stepped in after Eddie Murphy pulled out.
Ice and fire