‘Benjamin Button’ Leads Way at Oscar Nominations

The nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards were announced last Thursday morning with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” leading the way with 13 Oscar nominations, including one for best picture.

Among the nominations “Benjamin Button” received were best actor in a leading role nomination for Brad Pitt and best supporting actress for Taraji P. Henson’s performance in the film. The film stocked up in the technical aspects of the nomination list by securing nods for art direction, cinematography, film editing and original score among other categories. The film also received nominations for Eric Roth’s adapted screenplay and for David Fincher’s directorial efforts.

Runner up to “Benjamin Button” was Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire”. The film, which won best picture at this year’s Golden Globes, received a total of 10 nominations. The film was shut out in the acting categories but received nominations for best picture, directing and adapted screenplay and scored a double nomination in the best original song category for the efforts of A.R. Rahman.

The final three spots for the best picture category were taken by Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon”, Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” and Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader”, which was the most surprising nominee of the five. Notable films left off the best picture nominee list include blockbuster favorites “The Dark Knight” and “Wall-E” along with limited released films like Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” and John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt”, which received four nominations for excellence in acting.

The snubbed films weren’t left out completely as the late Heath Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor for his work as The Joker in “The Dark Knight”, one of the film’s eight nominations. Segregation between best picture and best animated feature continued as “Wall-E” was left as a nominee in the best animated feature category. “Wall-E” received six nominations in total. Mickey Rourke, who won best actor at this year’s Golden Globe, continues his comeback streak with a nomination for his lead performance in “The Wrestler”.

In addition to Pitt’s and Rourke’s nominations for best actor in a leading role were Frank Langella for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon”, Sean Penn’s turn as Harvey Milk in “Milk” and Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”. Ledger is joined in the category of best supporting actor by Josh Brolin for his performance in “Milk”, Robert Downey Jr. for his comedic role in “Tropic Thunder”, Philip Seymour Hoffman in the aforementioned film “Doubt” and the surprising Michael Shannon for his portrayal of a mentally sick man in “Revolutionary Road”.

The category for best actress in a leading role contains nominations for Kate Winslet in “The Reader”, Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”, Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”, Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”, and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”. Best actress in a supporting role features two women from “Doubt” as both Amy Adams and Viola Davis received nominations. Joining Adams, Davis and the aforementioned Henson (“Benjamin Button”) is Penélope Cruz for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and Marisa Tomei for her performance in “The Wrestler”.

The Oscars are set to take place on Feb 22, 2009 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. The ceremony will be hosted by Hugh Jackman and will be televised on ABC.

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