Best Friends Face Off

Jonathan Crow
Coverage of The 84th Annual Academy Awards®

The Oscar race is on. And this year, the Academy has seen it fit to have some A-list BFFs compete in the same category for Oscar gold.

Pitt v. Clooney

They both have been twice dubbed the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. They've starred in four movies together. And this year, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are facing off for a Best Actor trophy.  2011 has been a very good year for the two uber-A-listers.  Clooney walked away with two Oscar nominations, one for co-writing his screenplay for "The Ides of March" and one for his nuanced performance of real estate baron and harried single dad Matt King in "The Descendants." He's already nabbed a Golden Globe for his performance. Not to be out done, Brad Pitt has been nominated for his turn as failed baseball player turned Oakland-A's manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball"  while also starring in another Best Picture nominee, "The Tree of Life." Last month, Pitt  was the upset winner for Best Actor for "Moneyball" at the National Society of Film Critics. If anyone is going to swipe the Oscar from the heavily favored Clooney, it's Pitt.

[ Related: The full list of Oscar nominees ]

So does Pitt begrudge Clooney for stealing his thunder? No. As he told E! Entertainment at this weekend's Producer's Guild Awards: "I can't say enough great things about him. I say give him all the trophies. I say, when they run out of trophies, invent some new ones and give him those, too."

Davis v. Streep

Meryl Streep has won two Oscars but the last time she got the trophy for her turn in"Sophie's Choice," Reagan was halfway through his first term. Since then, she has been given the  nod with the regularity of the monsoons in India, totalling a record-breaking 17 noms. This year, she's been nominated yet again for her freakishly uncanny portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."  Many in the Academy feel  that it's high time for Meryl to get another Oscar. The one person who might very well deny Streep her due is Viola Davis for her smoldering performance in "The Help." The last time Davis was nominated, this time for Best Supporting Actress, was for "Doubt," where she appeared in a single scene opposite Streep. Even though the two are reportedly in a deadheat for the top prize, they certainly don't act like rivals. Streep ended her Golden Globe acceptance speech earlier this month with a gushing tribute to Davis: "I'm so proud of the film, and I'm so, so, so grateful. And I love you, Viola. You are my girl."

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Spencer v. Chastain

By all accounts, the set of "The Help" was also one big love fest. Octavia Spencer, who played vengeful baking whiz Minny Jackson, and Jessica Chastain, who played Cecilia, a blonde bombshell social outcast who was hopeless in the kitchen, became close friends on set and mirrored the close relationship they developed onscreen. "When I met Octavia in the audition, we super fell in love," said Chastain. Now Spencer, who added that  she became "best friends instantly" with Chastain, will have to test the strength of that bond. Both nominated for Best Supporting Actress this year.