RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Roll out the red carpet. We'll soon know the movies with a shot at Oscar gold. Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced this morning in Beverly Hills. Kim Masters has been watching the Oscar race as editor-at-large for the Hollywood Reporter, and she joined us from NPR West. Good morning.
KIM MASTERS, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: And Kim, let's start with the big one. Anywhere from five to 10 movies could be nominated for best picture, based on the new Academy voting rules, this year's rules. What are the favorites?
MASTERS: Well, the formidable frontrunner at this point looks like "The Artist," the mostly silent, black-and-white movie that has won a bunch of awards already. But you also have to factor in "The Descendants," which is about George Clooney as a dad trying to deal with a family tragedy in Hawaii, "The Help," of course, about the '60s in Jackson, Mississippi and the black help versus the white wives for whom they work.
"Hugo" could sneak in there, "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen's movie. "Bridesmaids" might even get a nod. It's been picking up a lot of momentum in the early going. And who knows, maybe "Moneyball" or "War Horse" sneaks in there, too. It's a pretty broad range of films this year.
MONTAGNE: So let's move to the acting categories. You just mentioned "The Descendants" and George Clooney. Is this his year for Best Actor?
MASTERS: I think it may be. I think Brad Pitt is hoping that it isn't. But I think...
MONTAGNE: Brad Pitt, of course, who stars in "Moneyball."
MASTERS: For "Moneyball."
MASTERS: But I think at this point, it's George versus Brad, the handsome men against each other.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE DESCENDANTS")
GEORGE CLOONEY: (As Matt King) No, no, back inside - put on a swimsuit.
AMARA MILLER: (As Scottie King) Why?
CLOONEY: (As Matt King) Now.
SHAILENE WOODLEY: (As Alexandra King) Real good job you're doing.
CLOONEY: (As Matt King) That's part of why I brought you here. You have to help me with her. I don't know what to do with her.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MONEYBALL")
BRAD PITT: (As Billy Beane) The lineup card is definitely yours. I'm just saying you can't start Pena first.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: (As Art Howe) Well, I am starting him at first.
PITT: (As Billy Beane) I don't think so. He plays for Detroit now.
MONTAGNE: OK. And best actress - in fact, let's take a moment here to hear two of the contenders.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE IRON LADY")
MERYL STREEP: (As Margaret Thatcher) If the right honorable gentlemen could perhaps attend more closely to what I'm saying, rather than how I am saying it, he may receive a valuable education, in spite of himself.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY WEEK WITH MARILYN")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As a reporter) How do you like being married, Marilyn?
MICHELLE WILLIAMS: (As Marilyn Monroe) Well, I like it. I like it a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As a reporter) Is this third time lucky?
WILLIAMS: (As Marilyn Monroe) You bet it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As a reporter) Is it true you want to be a classical actress now?
WILLIAMS: (As Marilyn Monroe) I want to be the best actress I can be.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As a reporter) There's a rumor you're...
MONTAGNE: You've just heard Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn," and before that Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." What do you think? What about the two of them, and who else?
MASTERS: Well, I actually think Viola Davis from "The Help" would be really a kind of shoe-in this year, except for - you heard the accent, she's back - Meryl Streep, not that she ever went anywhere. She has not won an Oscar for nearly 30 years, and she does feel like the wind is behind her. But if not, I still think there's a shot that Viola Davis' performance, this very dignified performance, might win Academy backing this year.
MONTAGNE: There are so many categories. Leave us with what might turn out to be this year's sentimental moment at the Academy Awards.
MASTERS: Well, I think Christopher Plummer is likely to be honored in best supporting actor for his performance in "Beginners," as a man who lived his entire life in the closet and finally comes out in his sunset years. You know, I think - and one thing you can count on, Renee, in best original screenplay, if Woody Allen wins for "Midnight in Paris," he won't show up.
MONTAGNE: Kim, thanks very much.
MASTERS: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Kim Masters is host of THE BUSINESS on member station KCRW.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.