The Artist
The silent film leads this year's Oscar nominations

The nominees for the 84th Academy Awards have been unveiled, with silent film The Artist coming out on top of the most prestigious nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture.

The French-made film, based on Hollywood's transition from silent movies to "talkies" has already garnered 12 Bafta nominations this year, including Best Film and Best Director as well as a three honours from the Golden Globes .

The film will compete with Hugo, The Descendants, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for the coveted prize.

Former Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence and academy president Tom Sherak announced this year's nominees in the first 10 out 24 categories: leading actor, leading actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, animated feature film, directing, foreign language film, adapted screenplay, original screenplay and best picture.

Hugo, set in 1930s Paris and based on the story of an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station, also earned a nominations for Best Picture.

Meryl Streep, who has already won two Oscars in her career, was recognised for her portrayal as the iconic former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

She will go head to head for Best Actress with Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis for The Help, Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn.

Best Actor nominations include Gary Oldman for his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and George Clooney for his role in The Descendants.

The 84th Academy Awards, to be hosted comic actor Billy Crystal, will take place at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on 26 February.

Last year, British film The King's Speech was the big winner after it was awarded Best Picture as well as Best Original Screenplay with star Colin Firth named Best Actor. Tom Hooper was also named Best Director for the film.