In an awards race noted for its nostalgia, a pair of directors who helmed two different love letters to old Hollywood are among those vying for the top spot.

The first is Martin Scorsese, whose “Hugo” outearned the competition in Oscar noms this season with 11. Last month, the helmer took the Golden Globe, but despite six prior Academy nominations for directing, Scorsese has only once before taken the kudo, for 2006’s “The Departed,” the last time he was nominated.

In the other corner stands first-time nominee Michel Hazanavicius with “The Artist.” He and Scorsese divided most of the critics association awards, but Hazanavicius’ odds jumped last month when he picked up the Directors Guild of America kudo. In all but six instances, the DGA winner has gone on to take the Oscar.

Even the helmer’s rookie status isn’t working against him. Should he win, Hazanavicius will be the fifth consecutive first-time nominee to take the honor.

Nominee Terrence Malick has received some critic love for “The Tree of Life,” including honors from the L.A. Film Critics Circle. The Acad nominated Malick once for 1998’s “The Thin Red Line,” but he did not take the statuette, poising the helmer to be another tyro victor.

Two other proven talents round out the year’s nominees. Alexander Payne, up for “The Descendants,” received a helming nod for 2004’s “Sideways,” but won his Oscar for penning the script. Woody Allen, up for “Midnight in Paris,” has 21 prior Acad nominations, six in directing, including his one directing win for “Annie Hall.”

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