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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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The speech vs. the network

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The British monarchy saga "The King's Speech" leads the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including best picture and acting honors for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.

Also nominated for best picture Tuesday were 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 Facebook chronicle "The Social Network"; the animated smash "Toy Story 3"; the Western "True Grit" (2010); and the Ozarks crime thriller "Winter's Bone."

"True Grit" ran second with 10 nominations, including acting honors for Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.

The favorites in the male-acting categories both were nominated, Globe winners Firth as best actor for "The King's Speech" and Christian Bale as supporting actor 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 Steinfeld, who missed out on a Globe nomination for "True Grit" but made the cut for supporting actress at the Oscars.

The Feb. 27 Oscar ceremony will be televised live on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

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