The 2012 Academy Awards are almost here, and "Extra" takes a closer look at the nine Best Picture nominees, including "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse."


2012 Best Picture Nominees: Refresher Course

'The Artist'

The Skinny: George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a charismatic silent film star, finds himself spiraling into depression when talkies take over - only to be saved by a rising starlet named Peppy (Berenice Bejo).Trivia Tidbit: Peppy's house in the film is the former home of silent film star Mary Pickford, and the bed where George Valentin wakes up is Pickford's actual bed.

'The Desecendants'

The Skinny: When workaholic land baron Matt King (George Clooney) discovers his wife (now in a coma from a boating accident) has cheated on him, he tries to reconnect with his daughters (Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller) and find out how his life got so screwed up.Trivia Tidbit: Amanda Seyfried auditioned for the part of the older daughter, which eventually went to Woodley, best known for her role in TV's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."

'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close'

The Skinny: With the help of certain people he meets along the way, the precocious 9-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks) -- who died in the World Trade Center on September 11 -- and hopes it will shed light on why his dad died.Trivia Tidbit: In an early draft of the script, the character of The Renter, played by Supporting Actor nominee Max von Sydow, finally speaks at the end. Von Sydow was opposed to it, since he felt the movie was about Oskar, and it wasn't necessary to know whether or not The Renter recovers his speech; he doesn't.

'The Help'

The Skinny: Based on the bestselling novel, an aspiring writer (Emma Stone) returns to her Mississippi hometown during the 1960s Civil Rights movement and decides to detail the lives of the African-American hired help, telling their story from their perspective.Trivia Tidbit: Kathryn Stockett's book on which this film is based was rejected 60 times before it was eventually published.

'Hugo'

The Skinny: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan (Asa Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father, an automaton - and a small novelty shop owner (Ben Kingsley) who may not be who he seems.Trivia Tidbit: Using 3D technology for the first time, director Martin Scorsese wore clip-on 3D lenses over his prescription glasses to get the right perspective.

'Midnight in Paris'

The Skinny: While visiting Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her parents, a successful Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson) romanticizes about what it would be like to live in the City of Lights during the 1920s, when writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald came together to create brilliant works. Little does he know he is about to be transported back in time to meet them.Trivia Tidbit: Director Woody Allen attempted to shoot the film in Paris in 2006, but abandoned the project because it was too expensive.

'Moneyball'

The Skinny: Based on a true story, the film follows the budget-strapped Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who in 2001 bucked the usual system of drafting players. Employing an ace number cruncher (Jonah Hill), Beane used computer-generated analysis and statistics called sabermetrics to build a winning team.Trivia Tidbit: Production of the movie was set to begin in 2009, but Columbia Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal axed the movie after objecting to changes made to Steven Zaillian's script by original director Steven Soderbergh.

'The Tree of Life'

The Skinny: The film follows a Texas family in the 1950s, focusing on the eldest son, Jack (Sean Penn), as he goes from the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years, trying to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). But there's also a bunch of other stuff going on.Trivia Tidbit: The tree of life that appears in the film is a gargantuan 65,000-pound live oak tree in Smithville, Texas.

'War Horse'

The Skinny: Boy meets horse. Boy bonds with horse. Horse is sold off to the British Calvary at the start of WWI. Horse has many adventures, meets many people but longs for the boy. Boy joins the army to find horse. Boy and horse are finally reunited. Tears flow.Trivia Tidbit: Fourteen horses played Joey during the movie. The "main" acting horse in the film, Finder, also portrayed Seabiscuit in the movie about the famous racehorse.


Click here for a complete list of 2012 Oscar nominees! The 84th Annual Academy Awards will be presented Sunday at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on ABC.

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