Beasts of the Southern Wild
What's it about?
A six-year-old girl called Hushpuppy whose carefree life on the Louisiana bayou with her father is endangered by his deteriorating health, a devastating storm and ancient creatures that may or may not be figments of her imagination.
Why's it nominated?
Embraced at Sundance and lauded at Cannes, this low-budget slice of magical realism - up for four awards - is this year's dark horse outsider slash little engine that could. Had director Benh Zeitlin not found a captivating pre-teen lead in child actress Quvenzhane Wallis, though, his debut feature would have never got this far.
What are its chances?
Should Wallis somehow beat Chastain, Lawrence and Riva to the best actress award for which she has been nominated, she would become its youngest ever recipient. Academy members may be tempted to pitch some votes her way just to see her name in the record books.