Oscars: Battle For Gongs Could Be Close Call

Michael Blair, Arts and Entertainment Producer, in Los Angeles

Ben Affleck will be hoping to top off his career comeback with a best picture Oscar for his movie Argo later.

The film tells the true story of a CIA mission to rescue US diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis by pretending they are Hollywood film-makers.

If Argo wins best picture at the Academy Awards, it would become the first to do so without a nomination for its director since 1989 when Driving Miss Daisy went home with the top award.

Affleck has already won best film and director trophies in the other major awards shows, including the Baftas and the Golden Globes, but he was snubbed for his directing at the Oscars.

He told Sky Movies: "I think you have to be careful with awards shows.

"I think they are great, but at the end of the day it's about the work you do. Awards are just the nice gravy, whether you win or not."

One man at home in the best director line-up is Steven Spielberg, who could win his third Oscar in the category for Lincoln.

"It’s very nerve-wracking of course when you're nominated," the director told Sky.

"Oscar night happens and you're sat in this big theatre, but you're surrounded by your peers, your friends and people who support you."

Lincoln, the biopic of the 16th US President, leads the field with 12 nominations - but it has underperformed at other awards shows, aside from its central performance from Daniel Day-Lewis.

The British-Irish actor is hot favourite to walk away with this third best actor award, and will be the first ever to do so if he wins.

Ang Lee's 3D adaptation Life Of Pi is close behind Lincoln with 11 nods, and is tipped for a win for its visual effects.

The British hope for Oscar glory is Les Miserables with eight nominations, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway and best actor for Hugh Jackman.

Producer Eric Fellner told Sky News he is realistic about the musical's chances.

He said: "You can't feel confident about winning of course because you just don't know.

"I think this year of all years there's the opportunity for a surprise because there are so many good films - every film nominated for best picture deserves to win."

Les Mis also holds a host of nominations in the technical categories, where the Brits stand their best chances of success.

Anna Karenina has four nominations, while cinematographer Roger Deakins holds his 10th nomination for Skyfall.

Adele will perform the Bond film's theme at the awards and hopes to take the prize for best original song.

Silver Linings Playbook is the first film to be nominated in all four acting categories since 1982, with Jennifer Lawrence pitted against Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain for Best Actress.

Also in that category, the youngest ever nominee, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis from Beasts Of The Southern Wild, faces the oldest ever - 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for French film Amour.