Focus Features' Brokeback Mountain confirmed its reputation as the frontrunner for this year's 78th Annual Academy Awards with eight nominations, as Hollywood's specialty divisions dominated the major categories with a raft of provocative work.

Ang Lee's acclaimed drama wasnominated for best picture, director, lead actor for Heath Ledger, supportingactor for Jake Gyllenhaal, supporting actress forMichelle Williams, cinematography, score and adapted screenplay for Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, who received a screenwriting nomination in 1972 for The Last Picture Show.

Brokeback's success makes up half of a 16-film haul for Focus that included four apiece for The Constant Gardener and Pride & Prejudice..

Lionsgate's Crash and Warner Independent Picture's Good Night, And Good Luck, earned six nominations each, while UA/SPC's Capote andUniversal/DreamWorks' Municheach took five. Sony's Memoirs Of A Geisha took home six nominations in mostly crafts categories, including cinematography, art direction, score and costume design.

In the biggest surprise of the day, Fox's Walk The Line failed to make the best picture category, although it did receive five nominations including actor and actress for Golden Globe musical or comedy winners Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who is widely regarded as a shoo-in for the Oscar.

For the first time since1981 the picture and director categories honour the same five pictures.

Lee, nominated for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001,contests the director stakes with Paul Haggis (Crash), Bennett Miller (Capote),and George Clooney (Good Night, And GoodLuck).

Rounding out the category isAcademy favourite and two-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg, whose Munich has arrived late but ingrand style at the awards season party.

Clooney becomes the firstperson in Academy history to be nominated for directing and supporting actorfor a separate film, Syriana,one of eight nominations for various Warner Bros pictures and 11 nominated titles from Jeff Skoll's Participant Productions.

He also shares an originalscreenplay mention with Grant Heslov for Good Night, And Good Luck.

Ledger and Phoenix will viefor the lead actor prize with Capote'sPhilip Seymour Hoffman, who took home the SAG prize at the weekend, as well asTerrence Howard for Hustle & Flowand David Strathairn for Good Night, And Good Luck.

All nominees arefirst-timers except Phoenix, who earned a supportingactor nod for Gladiator in 2001.

Gladiator Oscar winner Russell Crowe failed to make the cut this timearound for Cinderella Man.

Witherspoon received herfirst nomination in the actress category and goes against British stars Judi Dench, earning her fifth with The Weinstein Company's Mrs Henderson Presents, and first-timer KeiraKnightley for Pride& Prejudice, as well as former Oscar winner CharlizeTheron for NorthCountry, and this year's Golden Globe dramatic actress winner and first time Academy nomineeFelicity Huffman for The Weinstein Company/IFC Films' Transamerica.

Proof's Gwyneth Paltrow, who won the Academy Award in 1999 for Shakespeare In Love,was not among the nominees.

In a fresh supporting actorcontest, Gyllenhaal and Clooney are pitted againstMatt Dillon for Crash, Paul Giamatti for Universal/Miramax's Cinderella Man, and William Hurt for A History of Violence, which earned two nominations for New Line.

With the exception of Hurt,who has received three nominations prior to this and won the Oscar in 1986 for Kiss Of The SpiderWoman, all are first-time nominees.

In the supporting actressstakes Golden Globe and SAG winner Rachel Weiszearned her first Academy nomination for TheConstant Gardener, as did Michelle Williams for Brokeback Mountain, and Amy Adams for Junebug, while Catherine Keenerearns her second nomination with Capote,and Frances McDormand collects her fourth with North Country.

Haggis shares an originalscreenplay nomination for Crash with Bobby Moresco, and goes against Clooney and Grant Heslov for Good Night, And Good Luck, Woody Allen with his 21st nomination with Match Point, first timer Noah Baumbach for The SquidAnd The Whale, and Stephen Gaghan with his secondnomination with Syrianafollowing the Oscar win for Traffic in 2001.

In the adapted screenplaycategory Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossanaare in the running for Brokeback Mountain, as are first-timers Dan Futterman for Capote,Jeffrey Caine for TheConstant Gardener, Josh Olson for A History Of Violence, and Tony Kushner and Eric Roth for Munich.

It is Roth's third nomination following The Insider and his win in 1995 for Forrest Gump.

Vying for the foreign language Oscar are the Palestine Authority's first Academy nomination Paradise Now by HanyAbu-Assad, Italy's 27th with Don't Tell by Christina Comencini,France's 34th with Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel) by Christian Carion,Germany's sixth with Sophie Scholl byMarc Rothemund, and South Africa's second with Tsotsi by Gavin Hood.

John Williams becomes themost nominated musician in Academy history as his 44th and 45th nominations for the scores to Munich andMemoirs Of A Geisha saw him overtake Alfred Newman.

He is now the second most nominated person ever in Academy history behind Walt Disney on 59.

The three other score nominees are Gustavo Santaolalla for Brokeback Mountain, Alberto Iglesias for TheConstant Gardener, and Dario Marianelli for Pride & Prejudice.

Nick Park and Steve Box receive a nomination in the animated feature category for DreamWorksAnimation's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of TheWere-Rabbit, alongside Buena Vista's Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki,and Tim Burton and Mike Johnson's Tim Burton'sCorpse Bride from Warner Bros.

Contesting the documentarycategory are Alex Gibney's Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room from Magnolia Pictures, Hubert Sauper's Darwin's Nightmare from International Film Circuit, Luc Jaquet's March Of The Penguins handed in North America by Warner Independent Pictures, Henry Alex-Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's Murderball from THINKFilm, and Marshall Curry's Street Fightfrom Marshall Curry Productions.

Short film Six Shooter - nominated in the best live action short category - was produced by Mia Bays, highlighted as one of Screen International's annual UK Stars Of Tomorrow in 2005.

Six Shooter was written and directed by playwright Martin McDonagh.

Other nominees in the category included The Runaway (Ausreisser), Cashback, The Last Farm and Our Time Is Up