The race is on


This undated photo provided by Focus Features shows actors Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Heath Ledger, in a scene from "Brokeback Mountain." The movie led the Academy Awards field with eight nominations, among them best picture and honors for actors Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Jake Gyllenhaal and director Ang Lee.

AP Photo/Focus Features, Kimberly French
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 10:53 p.m.

Facts

Oscars are March 5

  • What: The 78th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live from Hollywood. Faux news anchor Jon Stewart, of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is set to host.
  • When: 8 p.m. March 5
  • Where: ABC (Cox cable channel 7)

  • 'Brokeback Mountain," the cowboy romance starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, capped its awards-season run with a bounty of Oscar nominations - eight, including best picture - as the contenders for the 78th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday in Beverly Hills.
    Also nominated for best picture were the biopic "Capote," Paul Haggis' Angeleno ensemble piece "Crash," the Edward R. Murrow chronicle "Good Night, and Good Luck" and Steven Spielberg's assassination thriller, "Munich."
    Along with best picture, best actor for Ledger, supporting actor for Gyllenhaal and supporting actress for Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain" received directing, screenplay, cinematography and music nods.
    "Brokeback" is the first overtly gay love story to be nominated for best picture. Gay and gender identity issues also play a big part in two other 2006 Oscar-nominated titles, "Capote" and "Transamerica."
    The Ang Lee-steered "Brokeback" heads a posse of smaller, independently-made pictures recognized by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - virtually shutting out high-profile, studio-backed productions like "Cinderella Man," while the mega-pics "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "King Kong" were recognized mainly in technical categories.
    After "Brokeback," the most nominations - six apiece - went to "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Memoirs of a Geisha," although the latter, a lavish Asian-themed melodrama, failed to score in any major tier.
    With the exception of "Munich," a globe-hopping dramatization of Israeli retribution in the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic hostage killings, the best picture nominees are modestly budgeted affairs released under arthouse imprimaturs: "Brokeback" (Focus Features), "Capote" (Sony Pictures Classics), "Good Night" (Warner Independent Pictures) and "Crash" (Lions Gate Releasing).
    George Clooney pulled off his own feat, garnering four nominations - director, screenwriter, supporting actor and producer of a best picture - tying a record with Orson Welles. Welles, however, managed his coup for one movie ("Citizen Kane"). Clooney landed three kudos for his Edward R. Murrow drama, "Good Night, and Good Luck," and a supporting actor nod for the Middle East spy thriller, "Syriana."
    Academy voters - 5,798 strong this year - once again showed its penchant for the Brits, slotting the young Keira Knightley (age 20) and the seasoned Dame Judi Dench (age 71 - her 5th nomination) in the lead actress category for "Pride & Prejudice" and "Mrs. Henderson Presents," respectively. Felicity Huffman's cross-gender turn in "Transamerica," Charlize Theron's sexually harassed miner in "North Country" and Reese Witherspoon's beaming portrait of June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line" rounded out the distaff posts.
    Philip Seymour Hoffman's starring role as the colorful New Yorker scribe Truman Capote in the best picture nominee "Capote" placed the actor alonsgide Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix (as Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line"), Terrence Howard (as a pimp-turned-rapper in "Hustle & Flow") and David Strathairn (as newsman Murrow in "Good Night, and Good Luck") in the lead actor stakes.
    In the supporting actress category, Amy Adams' indelibly offbeat portrait of a starry-eyed country girl in the little indie "Junebug," and Williams' turn as the cheated-on spouse in "Brokeback Mountain" were joined by Catherine Keener as Harper Lee in "Capote," Frances McDormand as a hardscrabble miner in "North Country" and Rachel Weisz as an activist wife gone missing in Africa in "The Constant Gardener."
    Perhaps making amends for its glaring omission last year, Academy voters recognized Paul Giamatti, snubbed in 2005 for "Sideways," in the supporting actor slot for his work as Russell Crowe's ringside coach in the '30s pugilist film "Cinderella Man." Along with Clooney, for his grizzled CIA agent in "Syriana," and Gyllenhaal, for "Brokeback," the supporting actor nominees are Matt Dillon, for his role as a cop confronting his own racism in "Crash," and William Hurt, in a quirky turn as a mobster in "A History of Violence."
    Perhaps making amends for its glaring omission last year, Academy voters recognized Paul Giamatti in the supporting actor slot for his work as Russell Crowe's ringside coach in "Cinderella Man."

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