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'Beasts', 'Amour' actresses make history with Oscar nods

Updated: 2013-01-14 09:52
'Beasts', 'Amour' actresses make history with Oscar nods

The nominees for best actress for the 85th Academy Awards are shown in this combination of file photographs after they were announced in Beverly Hills California, January 10, 2013. From left are Naomi Watts for "The Impossible", QuvenzhanŽ Wallis for "Beasts of the Southern Wild", Jessica Chastain for "Zero Dark Thirty", Emmanuelle Riva for "Amour" and Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook". [Photo/Agencies]

Oscar presenters, pundits and fans may struggle to pronounce Quvenzhane Wallis' name, but they are going to be hearing it a lot in the next six weeks.

The 9-year-old breakout star of independent film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" on Thursday was among the handful of new faces who will compete against veterans for an Oscar statuette next month.

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Wallis, whose first name is pronounced "kwa-ven-jan-eh," became the youngest best actress nominee in the academy's 85-year history for her portrayal of Hushpuppy, a fierce young girl living in the swamps of Louisiana in "Beasts".

"Thank you to all you Oscar folks, from me, my mom and my dad ... Beast it!," Wallis said in a statement.

"Beasts" producer Michael Gottwald, whose film was nominated for best picture, told Reuters he knew audiences enjoyed Wallis' performance in the film, but was surprised by the academy's warm response.

"Of all the nominations, that may be the most special because it's historic and we looked at her after looking at 4,000 girls for that part ... she had never been on any sort of ride like this before, so that's a real unique honor," he said.

Wallis will be competing against veteran French actress Emmanuelle Riva, who at 85 years old became the oldest lead actress nominee for the harrowing French language drama "Amour".

Related: 'Amour' takes US film critics' top prize as best film

"Lincoln" and "Les Miserables" were expected to be nominated, but mythological indie drama "Beasts" and "Amour" were two surprises in key categories, including best picture, directing and screenplay.

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