Dave Karger
June 24, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Artist
The delightful black-and-white silent film was the crowd-pleasing sensation of Cannes. (Nov. 23)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Stephen Daldry (The Reader) has earned Best Director nods for all three of his films so far. This time he’s got acting winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock on board. (December)

The Descendants
Director Alexander Payne’s first feature since Sideways stars George Clooney as a father of two who learns about his wife’s infidelity. (Dec. 16)

J. Edgar
Clint Eastwood’s last four films failed to make the Best Picture cut. But there’s no genre that’s more Oscar-friendly than the biopic. (Dec. 14)

The Ides of March
Clooney in the director’s chair combined with political themes and a stellar cast? It worked for Good Night, and Good Luck. (Oct. 7)

The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep’s turn as British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is said to be a career highlight for the Academy favorite. (Dec. 16)

The Tree of Life
It may not be for everyone, but Terrence Malick’s impressionistic film is the strongest candidate from the first half of 2011. (Out now)

War Horse
Steven Spielberg helming a period piece set during a time of war? On paper, this adaptation of the acclaimed stage production seems like a slam dunk. (Dec. 28)

We Bought a Zoo
Cameron Crowe and Matt Damon’s true-life tale of a family man who, yes, buys a zoo could be one of the holiday season’s breakout hits. (Dec. 23)

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