'Button' leads nominations, Ledger up for Oscar


Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger

In this image released by Warner Bros., Heath Ledger starring as The Joker, is shown in a scene from "The Dark Knight."

Warner Bros. Pictures, Stephen Vaughan/The AP
Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 8:59 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 8:59 a.m.

BEVERLY HILLS, California The romantic fantasy "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" led Academy Awards contenders Thursday with 13 nominations, among them best picture and acting honors for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson, and a directing slot for David Fincher.

Facts

Complete list of 81st annual Academy Award nominations announced Thursday:

1. Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''Frost/Nixon," ''Milk," ''The Reader," ''Slumdog Millionaire."

2. Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

3. Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

4. Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

6. Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

7. Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"; Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"; David Hare, "The Reader"; Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

9. Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"; Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"; Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Bolt"; "Kung Fu Panda"; "WALL-E."

11. Art Direction: "Changeling," ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''The Duchess," ''Revolutionary Road."

12. Cinematography: "Changeling," ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''The Reader," ''Slumdog Millionaire."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''Slumdog Millionaire," ''WALL-E," ''Wanted."

14. Sound Editing: "The Dark Knight," ''Iron Man," ''Slumdog Millionaire," ''WALL-E," ''Wanted."

15. Original Score: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat; "Defiance," James Newton Howard; "Milk," Danny Elfman; "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman; "WALL-E," Thomas Newman.

16. Original Song: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar; "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

17. Costume: "Australia," ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Duchess," ''Milk," ''Revolutionary Road."

18. Documentary Feature: "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," ''Encounters at the End of the World," ''The Garden," ''Man on Wire," ''Trouble the Water."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Conscience of Nhem En," ''The Final Inch," ''Smile Pinki," ''The Witness From the Balcony of Room 306."

20. Film Editing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''Frost/Nixon," ''Milk," ''Slumdog Millionaire."

21. Makeup: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''Hellboy II: The Golden Army."

22. Animated Short Film: "La Maison en Petits Cubes," ''Lavatory Lovestory," ''Oktapodi," ''Presto," ''This Way Up."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)," ''Manon on the Asphalt," ''New Boy," ''The Pig," ''Spielzeugland (Toyland)."

24. Visual Effects: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," ''The Dark Knight," ''Iron Man."

Other best-picture nominees were "Frost/Nixon," ''Milk," ''The Reader" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

As expected, Heath Ledger had a supporting-actor nomination for "The Dark Knight" on the one-year anniversary of his death from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. But the Batman blockbuster was shut out for other top categories such as best picture and director.

"Slumdog Millionaire" lived up to its rags-to-riches theme, coming in second with 10 nominations, including a directing spot for Danny Boyle and two of the three song slots.

Real-life couple Pitt and Angelina Jolie both will be going to the Oscars as nominees. Jolie had a best-actress nomination for the missing-child drama "Changeling."

The acting categories were loaded with surprises. Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes best dramatic actress for "Revolutionary Road" and supporting actress for "The Reader." But she was nominated for lead actress at the Oscars for "The Reader" and shut out for "Revolutionary Road."

Actors considered longshots also sneaked in, among them lead-actor nominee Richard Jenkins for "The Visitor," best-actress contender Melissa Leo for "Frozen River" and supporting-actor pick Michael Shannon for "Revolutionary Road."

Winslet reunited with "Titanic" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for "Revolutionary Road," but he also was shut out for a nomination on that film.

Other best-actress nominees were Anne Hathaway for "Rachel Getting Married" and Meryl Streep for "Doubt."

Joining Pitt and Jenkins in the best-actor category were Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; and Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

Other acting snubs included Clint Eastwood for "Gran Torino," Sally Hawkins for "Happy-Go-Lucky" and Kristin Scott Thomas for "I've Loved You So Long."

But perhaps the biggest surprise overall was the so-so results for "The Dark Knight," which had been picking up momentum as one Hollywood trade guild after another picked it as one of the year's best films.

The largest blockbuster in years, "The Dark Knight" had eight nominations, but other than Ledger's honor, its scored only in technical categories such as cinematography, visual effects and editing.

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