Brad Pitt and George Clooney will go head-to-head once again along with Gary Oldman for Best Actor, while nine films were tapped for best picture. The lists includes several dark horses among favorites like “The Help,” “Moneyball,” and “The Artist.”

The 84th Academy Awards nominations were announced live on television this morning (Jan. 24) at 8:30 Eastern at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The 2011 Oscars will be presented on Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre and televised live by the ABC.

The 2011 Academy Award Nomninations

Best Picture
War Horse
The Artist
The Descendants
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
The Help
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Favorite: The Artist; Our Pick: The Help; Dark Horse: Moneyball

Best Director
Michel Hazanivicus, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Favorite: Michel Hazanivicius; Our Pick: Terrence Malick; Dark Horse: Martin Scorsese

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Favorite: George Clooney; Our Pick: Brad Pitt; Dark Horse: Gary Oldman

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Favorite: Viola Davis; Our Pick: Michelle Williams; Dark Horse: Glenn Close

Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Favorite: Christopher Plummer; Our Pick: Jonah Hill; Dark Horse: Nick Nolte

Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Artist
Favorite: Jessica Chastain; Our Pick: Melissa McCarthy; Dark Horse: Octavia Spencer

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanivicius, The Artist
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo, Bridesmaids
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Favorite: The Artist; Our Pick: Bridesmaids; Dark Horse: Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov, The Ides of March
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, Moneyball
Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Favorite: The Descendants; Our Pick: Ides of March; Dark Horse: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Foreign Feature
In Darkness
Monsier Lazhar
In Separation
Favorite: In Darkness; Our Pick: In Darkness; Dark Horse: Bullhead

Best Animated Feature
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Favorite: Rango; Our Pick: Rango; Dark Horse: Puss in Boots

Among the big surprises were nine nominations for best picture. They included long shots like Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” and Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse. Also nominated were “The Tree of Life,” “Hugo,” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

“The Artist” gets the node as favorite for Best Picture, after winning the Golden Globe for Musical or Comedy last week. Jean Dujardin won for Best Actor at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is up for an Oscar as well. But Clooney has the inside track in this competition, often swayed by sentimentality.

Best actor nominations were expected for Clooney and Pitt. Both generated tons of buzz leading up to the nominations. Noticeably absent, however, is Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in the controversial picture “J Edgar.” Also left off the list were Michael Fassbender for “Shame,” Ryan Gosling for “The Ides of March.”

Meryl Streep is the sentimental favorite for Best Actress for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” It’s her 17th Oscar nomination. She’s won two, the last nearly 30 years ago. She’s also won eight Golden Globes.

But she faces stiff competition from Viola Davis for “The Help” and Michelle Williams for “My Week With Marilyn.”

Christopher Plummer seems to be the sentimental favorite for Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners” while Jonah Hill has to be the popular favorite and our pick for “Moneyball.” Noticeably absent from the list is Albert Brooks for “Drive.”

Nick Nolte is the surprise for his role in “Warriors” and has to be the dark horse. Kenneth Branagh could also surprise for his role in “My Week With Marilyn.”

Martin Scorsese’s 3D feature, “Hugo,” leads the field with 11 nominations while “The Artist,” a silent film shot in black and white received 10 nominations. Oddly there were reports that some theatergoers didn’t realize the film had no sound and demanded their money back.

“Moneyball” and “War Horse” each received six nominations. “The Descendants” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” follwowed with five nominations. “The Help and “Midnight in Paris received four, while “Albert Nobbs” and “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” received three apiece.

“The Tree Of Life,” “Extremely Lous & Incredibly Close” and “The Iron Lady” and “My Week With Marilyn” and “A Separation,” received two each, according to Deadline.