Paramount/Warner Bros co-venture The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button led the pack at the 81st annual Academy Award nominations announcement in Los Angeles with 13 nominations including best picture, best director and best actor for Brad Pitt. Only two films in Oscar history - All About Eve in 1950 and Titanic in 1997 - have been nominated 14 times.
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But perhaps the favourite is still Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight in the domestic market), Danny Boyle's Indian crowdpleaser which scored 10 nominations including picture, director and screenplay. The UK-originated film also won three nominations for Indian music superstar AR Rahman in original score and two song categories as well as cinematography, editing, sound editing and sound mixing.
Gus Van Sant's much liked Milk (Focus Features) restored its luster after being snubbed by the Golden Globes, winning eight nominations including best picture, director, screenplay, actor for Sean Penn and supporting actor for Josh Brolin. It is Penn's fifth nomination and Brolin's first.
Also taking eight nominations was Warner's blockbuster The Dark Knight but the comic book epic failed to score in picture or director categories, instead taking seven of its nods in technical categories and one for Heath Ledger in the supporting actor category. Ledger is only the sixth actor to be nominated posthumously after James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Ralph Richardson and Massimo Troisi.
Kate Winslet, who won two Golden Globes recently for Revolutionary Road and The Reader, was nominated for best actress in a leading role for The Reader even though distributor The Weinstein Company was pitching her in the supporting category. The Reader had a triumphant morning, taking nominations for picture, screenplay and director Stephen Daldry who, remarkably, has now been nominated for each of his first three films - the other two being Billy Elliot in 2000 and The Hours in 2002.
For Scott Rudin, who pulled his name off The Reader, it was a somewhat bittersweet morning. His two films - Doubt and Revolutionary Road - didn't get nominated for best picture or director, although Doubt won five nods, four for performances and one for John Patrick Shanley's screenplay. The acting nominees are Meryl Streep for best actress, Philip Seymour Hoffman for best supporting actor and both Amy Adams and Viola Davis for best supporting actress.
Revolutionary Road was cited in only three categories including Michael Shannon for best supporting actor.
It is Streep's 15th Academy Award nomination, taking her record as most nominated actor into new territory. And it is 33 year-old Winslet's sixth nomination, making her the youngest actor to score six nominations. Bette Davis was 34 when she won her sixth nomination for Now Voyager in 1942.
The final best picture nominee is Universal's Frost/Nixon from Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Films which took five nominations including best picture, director for Ron Howard, screenplay for Peter Morgan and actor for Frank Langella.
In the foreign language category, the nominees are Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex from Germany, Laurent Cantet's The Class from France, Yojiro Takita's Departures from Japan, Gotz Spielmann's Revanche from Austria and Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir from Israel. The four films which failed to make the final five from the nine-title shortlist are 3 Monkeys from Turkey, Everlasting Moments from Sweden, The Necessities Of Life from Canada and Tear This Heart Out from Mexico.
Although Mike Leigh won a nomination for best original screenplay for Happy-Go-Lucky, lead actress Sally Hawkins didn't make the final five, despite multiple critics awards and a Golden Globe win earlier this month.
Other actors who didn't win Oscar favour were Ralph Fiennes, although his three supporting roles in In Bruges, The Duchess and The Reader, might have split the voters and Kristin Scott Thomas, considered a contender for her French film I've Loved You So Long.
And even though he had two films in the running this year, Clint Eastwood was shut out for Gran Torino and Changeling, even though his Changeling star Angelina Jolie won a best actress nomination.
Making the grade for the first time were two indie favourites - Richard Jenkins, nominated for best actor in The Visitor, and Melissa Leo, nominated for best actress for Frozen River.
Mickey Rourke, who won the Golden Globe for best actor, also made the grade although The Wrestler only scored one other nomination for Marisa Tomei's supporting performance. It is Tomei's third nomination.
The animated feature nominees were Bolt, Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E. The last won a further five nominations for original screenplay, music score, song ('Down To Earth' by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman), sound mixing and sound editing.
Documentary feature nominees were The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, Encounters At The End Of The World from Werner Herzog, The Garden from Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Man On Wire from James Marsh and Trouble The Water from Tia Lessin and Carl Deal.
The studio with the most nominations was Paramount, including Paramount Vantage and DreamWorks releases, with a total of 22 nominations.
Warner Bros scored 21, not counting its involvement as a partner in Slumdog Millionaire, while Universal and Focus had 20.
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Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldry -The Reader
Gus Van Sant - Milk
Best Original Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black - Milk
Martin McDonagh - In Bruges
Courtney Hunt - Frozen River
Mike Leigh - Happy-Go-Lucky
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter - Wall-E
Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Roth, Robin Swicord - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Peter Morgan - Frost/Nixon
John Patrick Shanley - Doubt
David Hare - The Reader
Simon Beaufoy - Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor In A Leading Role
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn- Milk
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
Brad Pitt- The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Best Actress In A Leading Role
Anne Hathaway - Rachel's Getting Married
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Kate Winslet - The Reader
Melissa Leo - - Frozen River
Best Actor In A Supporting Role
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Josh Brolin- Milk
Philip Seymour Hoffman- Doubt
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Michael Shannon- Revolutionary Road
Best Actress In A Supporting Role
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P Henson - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Best Animated Film
Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Waltz With Bashir (Israel)
Best Documentary Feature
Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath - The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser - Encounters At The End Of The World
Scott Hamilton Kennedy - The Garden
James Marsh and Simon Chinn- Man On Wire
Tia Lessin and Carl Deal - Trouble The Water
Best Documentary Short Subject
Steven Okazaki - The Conscience Of Nhem En
Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tom Grant Smile Pink iMegan Mylan - The Final Inch
Adam Pertofsky, Margaret Hyde - The Witness From The Balcony Of Room 306
Best Art Direction
James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis - Changeling
Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo -The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando - The Dark Knight
Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway - The Duchess
Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt - Revolutionary Road
Tom Stern -Changeling
Claudio Miranda - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Wally Pfister - The Dark Knight
Chris Menges, Roger Deakins - The Reader
Anthony Dod Mantle - Slumdog Millionaire
Catherine Martin -Australia
Jacqueline West- The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Michael O'Connor - The Duchess
Danny Glicker - Milk
Albert Wolsky - Revolutionary Road
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Lee Smith - The Dark Knight
Mike Hill, Dan Hanley - Frost/Nixon
Elliot Graham - Milk
Chris Dickens - Slumdog Millionaire
Down To Earth - Wall-E
Jai Ho-Slumdog Millionaire
O Saya - Slumdog Millionaire
Short Film (Animated)
La Maison En Petits Cubes
Lavatory - Lovestory
This Way Up
Short Film (Live Action)
On The Line (Auf Der Strecke)
Manon On The Asphalt