18 January 2013 8:27 AM, PST | backstage.com | See recent Backstage news »

More so than in recent years, 2012 was shaping up to be the year studio films took back the Oscars. Front-runners such as “Argo,” “Les Misérables,” “Lincoln,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” seemed to dominate the race—and still may. But the Oscar nominations include some strong independent showings, none more so than last year’s Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The scrappy indie starring a then-7-year-old newcomer with an unpronounceable name not only earned a nomination for best picture but bumped sure things Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow out of the director race. “Beasts” had a budget that was probably smaller than the catering bill for “Argo,” yet the story of a girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), who lives in a part of the Louisiana bayou called the Bathtub and encounters mythical prehistoric beasts, resonated with voters. Director Benh Zeitlin not only sneaked »

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