Mexican actor Demián Bichir is going head-to-head with George Clooney and Brad Pitt for “Best Actor” at this year’s Academy Awards.
Bichir landed the Oscar nod Tuesday morning for his performance in last year's tear-jerking film “A Better Life.”
The ceremony is set to take place on Feb. 26.
Clooney is up for a nomination for his acting in “The Descendants” along with Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” Gary Oldman was also nominated in the same category for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” while Pitt is up for his performance in “Moneyball.”
In the new film “A Better Life,” Bichir brings to life Carlos Galindo, a diligent gardener from Mexico who is raising his teenage son Luis on his own because his wife abandoned the two of them after the family crossed the border into the United States.
Determined to give his son all things he never had and to keep him away the gangs in East L.A., Galindo works around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This issue [of immigration] is close to many of us,” Bichir tells Fox News Latino. “We are all immigrants and American was based on immigrants. But this film is not just an immigration movie."
It’s about the love of a father for his son.
“You have this Mexican macho becoming a mother to his son,” he adds. “It’s very real.”
Bichir says that when he began reading the script, he instantly felt connected to the movie, which manages to tell the Galindo’s story in a non-political way."
“When I found the script, I thought it would be interesting,” Bichir says. “I was already part of the film before I read it. I’m very close to my paisanos. I try to stay in touch with reality.”
Fellow Latina Bérénice Bejo landed a nomination for “Best Supporting Actress” in “The Artist.”
Bejo, the romantic partner of "The Artist" creator Hazanavicius, was nominated for her role as a new star of the sound era in the late 1920s and early '30s. "The Help" co-star Jessica Chastain also was nominated as Spencer's lonely, needy boss.
Also up for supporting actress are Melissa McCarthy as a crude but caring member of the wedding in "Bridesmaids"; and Janet McTeer as a woman posing as a male laborer in "Albert Nobbs."
McCarthy is a rare funny lady competing at the Oscars, which seldom honor performances in mainstream comedies such as "Bridesmaids."
The nomination for McCarthy was a small surprise next to some other startling turns among the nominations.
Oscar heavyweight Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" was shut out entirely, including for best actor, where Leonardo DiCaprio had been a strong prospect as FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover.
Other surprises included best-actor contender Bichir, who gave a terrific performance in "A Better Life," a film few people have seen.
Bichir beat out not only DiCaprio but also such actors as Ryan Gosling for "The Ides of March" and Michael Fassbender for "Shame," who had been high on Oscar forecasters' lists.
Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure "Hugo" leads the Academy Awards with 11 nominations, among them Best Picture and the latest director honor for the Oscar-winning filmmaker.
Nominated for Best Picture Tuesday: the silent film "The Artist"; the family drama "The Descendants"; the Sept. 11 tale "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"; the Deep South drama "The Help"; the romantic fantasy "Midnight in Paris"; the sports tale "Moneyball"; the family chronicle "The Tree of Life"; and the World War I epic "War Horse."
The nominations set up a Best Picture showdown between the top films at the Golden Globes: Best Musical or Comedy recipient "The Artist" and Best Drama winner "The Descendants."
"The Artist" ran second with ten nominations, among them writing and directing nominations for French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius.
Because of a rule change requiring films to receive a certain number of first-place votes, the Best Picture field has only nine nominees rather than the ten who were in the running the last two years.
Dujardin, who won the Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy as a silent-era star whose career goes kaput with the arrival of talking pictures, will be up against Globe dramatic actor winner George Clooney for "The Descendants," in which the Oscar-winning superstar plays a dad trying to hold his Hawaiian family together after a boating accident puts his wife in a coma.
Globe winners Meryl Streep (best dramatic actress as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady") and Michelle Williams (best musical or comedy actress as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn") scored Oscar nominations for best actress.
Two-time Oscar winner Streep padded her record as the most-nominated actress, raising her total to 17 nominations, five more than Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, who are tied for second-place.
Streep went two-for-four on her first nominations, winning supporting actress for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer" and best actress for 1982's "Sophie's Choice." But she has lost her last 12 times, and the Globe win for her spot-on personification of Thatcher looks like her best chance yet to break that losing streak.
Along with Streep and Williams, best-actress nominees are: Glenn Close as a 19th century Irishwoman masquerading as a male butler in "Albert Nobbs"; Viola Davis as a black maid going public with tales of white Southern employers in "The Help"; and Rooney Mara as a traumatized, vengeful computer genius in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
Octavia Spencer's win at the Globes as supporting-actress for "The Help," in which she plays a fiery maid whose mouth continually gets her in trouble, could give her front-runner status for the same prize at the Oscars. The same may hold true for supporting-actor nominee Christopher Plummer, who won a Globe for his role as an elderly dad coming out as gay in "Beginners."
An esteemed film and stage actor, Plummer went most of his 60-year career unacknowledged at the Oscars until earning a supporting-actor nomination two years ago as Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station." If he wins this time, the 82-year-old Plummer would become the oldest acting recipient ever; Jessica Tandy now holds that position for her best-actress win in "Driving Miss Daisy" at age 80.
Also in contention for supporting actor: Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier in "My Week with Marilyn"; Jonah Hill as a statistics whiz in "Moneyball"; Nick Nolte as a derelict dad making amends in "Warrior"; and Max von Sydow as a mute mystery man in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."
Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," which got mixed reviews and has not been much of a factor at earlier Hollywood awards, was a very unexpected best-picture nominee. Von Sydow's supporting-actor nomination also was a surprise.
Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" also had been considered a bit of a Best Picture long shot. The movie, which won top honors at last May's Cannes Film Festival but was a love-it-or-hate-it drama among audiences, also picked up a directing nomination for Malick.
Missing out on nominations were Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin," Albert Brooks for "Drive" and Shailene Woodley for "The Descendants."
The best director roster is loaded with past winners and nominees, including Scorsese for "Hugo," Malick for "The Tree of Life," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" and Alexander Payne for "The Descendants."
"Midnight in Paris," Allen's biggest hit in decades, was the filmmaker's first Best Picture nominee since 1986's "Hannah and Her Sisters" and first directing nomination since 1994's "Bullets Over Broadway." With his 15th honor for original screenplay, Allen also extended his lead as record holder for most writing nominations (Billy Wilder is second with 12).
The lone newcomer is Hazanavicius for "The Artist," a critical darling that has stacked up an impressive list of honors and nominations at earlier awards since its debut last year at Cannes.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.