The nominations for the 79th Academy Awards see Dreamgirls leading the race. But the hit musical has been shut out of the best picture and director categories. It also received three nominations for best song, meaning that it can only win five Oscars at most.

Best picture nominees were Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel, Martin Scorsese's The Departed, Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language Letters From Iwo Jima, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' Little Miss Sunshine and Stephen Frears' The Queen. In the directing category, Scorsese, Inarritu, Eastwood and Frears compete with Paul Greengrass for United 93. It is Scorsese's sixth directing nomination, Frears' second and Eastwood's fourth. Inarritu and Greengrass are first-time nominees in this category.

For foreign-language film, the nominations were After The Wedding (Denmark), Days Of Glory (Algeria), The Lives Of Others (Germany), Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico) and Water (Canada). Pedro Almodovar's Volver was shut out, despite scoring a best actress nomination for Penelope Cruz.

Babel took seven nominations, while tying on six nominations apiece were the Spanish-language Pan's Labyrinth and The Queen.

Leonardo DiCaprio won a best actor nomination for Blood Diamond, not The Departed, and he goes up against Forest Whitaker for The Last King Of Scotland, Will Smith for The Pursuit Of Happyness, Peter O'Toole for Venus and Ryan Gosling in the indie favourite Half Nelson. It marks DiCaprio's third nomination, Smith's second and O'Toole's eighth. O'Toole has never won an acting Oscar, although he was awarded an honorary trophy in 2003.

Sacha Baron Cohen, a Golden Globe winner for Borat, did not win a best actor nomination and must satisfy himself with a best adapted screenplay nod.

Cruz and Mirren are joined in the best actress category by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, Judi Dench in Notes On A Scandal and Kate Winslet in Little Children. Winslet's nomination is her fifth, a remarkable achievement for the 31-year-old actress. It is the third nomination for Mirren, the sixth for Dench and, entering uncharted territory in Oscar history and surpassing Katharine Hepburn's 13 nods, the 14th for Meryl Streep.

Djimon Hounsou won his second Oscar nomination in the best supporting actor category for Blood Diamond and he will face off with Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children, Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls and Mark Wahlberg, beating his The Departed cast-mate Jack Nicholson.

In the supporting actress category, Golden Globe winner Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls is joined by 10-year-old Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, Cate Blanchett in Notes On A Scandal and the two Babel actresses.