The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,a fable about a man who ages in reverse,dominated the 81st annual Academy Award nominations this morning,earning 13 nods,including best film,best actor for Brad Pitt and best director for David Fincher. This years Cinderella story,Slumdog Millionaire,earned 10 nominations.
Both Milk about slain gay-rights activist Harvey Milk and the Batman thriller The Dark Knight received eight nominations apiece. Among those nods: One year to the day after he died at age 28 of a drug overdose,Heath Ledger earned a best supporting actor nomination for his performance as the Joker.
Other best picture nominees included Milk; Frost/Nixon,a historical drama about former President Richard Nixon; and The Reader,a harrowing drama about an ex-Nazi prison guard.
Pitt and his partner,Angelina Jolie,had plenty of reason to celebrate on Thursday. Not only did he earn a leading acting nomination,but so did she. Jolie was nominated for best actress for her performance as a single mother searching for her missing son in Changeling.
Joining Pitt in the best actor category are Richard Jenkins as a widowed college professor who befriends an immigrant in The Visitor,Frank Langella as Nixon in Frost/Nixon,Sean Penn as slain San Francisco gay-rights advocate Harvey Milk in Milk and the comeback kid Mickey Rourke as the aging athlete refusing to give up the ring in The Wrestler.
Along with Jolie,the nominees for leading actress are Anne Hathaway as a troubled woman attending her sisters nuptials in Rachel Getting Married,Melissa Leo as a financially strapped mother of two in Frozen River,Meryl Streep as a stern nun in Doubt and Kate Winslet as an illiterate former Nazi prison guard in The Reader.
That nomination for Winslet was part of a surprisingly strong showing for The Reader,which earned major nominations best director for Stephen Daldry and best adapted screenplay for David Hare.
Rounding out the list of best director are Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon and Gus Van Sant for Milk.
Vying with Ledger in the best supporting actor category are Josh Brolin as San Francisco supervisor Dan White in Milk,Robert Downey Jr for his comedic turn as the ultimate method actor in Tropic Thunder,Philip Seymour Hoffman as a priest suspected of abusing an altar boy in Doubt and Michael Shannon as a mathematician with mental problems in Revolutionary Road.
On the supporting actress side,the nominees are Amy Adams as a young nun in Doubt,Penelope Cruz as a wacky ex-wife in the comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona,Viola Davis as the mother of an altar boy who may have been abused in Doubt,Taraji P Henson as the adoptive mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Marisa Tomei as a veteran stripper in The Wrestler.
The nominees for best animated film are Bolt,Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E. The latter also received nominations for best original screenplay,original score,original song,sound mixing and sound editing.
There were several snubs. Bruce Springsteen,who won the Golden Globe for best song for his title tune from The Wrestler,was overlooked. The Dark Knight failed to receive nominations for best picture,director or screenplay a surprise for those who had predicted it would do well in those categories. Also noticeably missing from the list was Sally Hawkins for best actress for Happy-Go Lucky and Dev Patel for best supporting actor for Slumdog Millionaire. Another veteran,writer-director Woody Allen also was passed up for his Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio failed to earn nominations for Revolutionary Road.
The awards ceremony will take place February 22 in a star-studded ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.