Dark dramas There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men led the pack in the nominations for the 80th annual Academy Awards with eight apiece. Michael Clayton and Atonement followed with seven each.

Those four films together with Juno were nominated for best picture, although Atonement director Joe Wright was omitted from the best director category, with Julian Schnabel taking his spot for The Diving Bell And The Buttterfly. Joel & Ethan Coen, meanwhile, scored four nominations each for No Country in picture, director, screenplay and editing categories. They are nominated as editors under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.

Among the suprises in the nominations, announced today in Los Angeles by Academy president Sid Ganis with actress Kathy Bates, was a best actor nod for Tommy Lee Jones in In The Valley Of Elah (his first) and a best actress nod for Laura Linney in The Savages.

Viggo Mortenson and George Clooney won their first best actor nominations for Eastern Promises and Michael Clayton respectively, Johnny Depp his third for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and Daniel Day-Lewis his fourth for There Will Be Blood.

Cate Blanchett, nominated for her breakthrough title role in Elizabeth in 1997, won a second best actress nod for the sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age, as well as a supporting actress nomination for playing Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. She is only the second actress in history nominated for playing a character in the opposite sex after Linda Hunt, who won in 1983 for The Year Of Living Dangerously.

In the best actress category, she faces off against Linney, young Canadian actress Ellen Page in Juno, Julie Christie in Away From Her and Marion Cotillard for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose.

Neither James McAvoy nor Keira Knightley scored acting nominations for Atonement, with only 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan nominated for supporting actress.

Other virtual shutouts were Sean Penn's Into The Wild, which took only two nominations for Hal Holbrook in the supporting actor category and for editing, Charlie Wilson's War which took one nod for Philip Seymour Hoffman in the same category and American Gangster which failed to score nominations for picture or director, netting just two nominations for Ruby Dee in the supporting actress category and art direction.

Sweeney Todd was also a disappointment, with three nominations for Depp, art direction and costume design, but none for picture or director.
Other films which failed to register with Academy voters included Hairspray, Lust, Caution, The Great Debaters and Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, which all failed to net a single nomination.

The controversial foreign language film category, which had already seen 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days fail to make the final shortlist of nine, saw nominations for Joseph Cedar's Beaufort from Israel, Stefan Ruzowitsky's The Counterfeiters from Austria, Andrzej Wajda's Katyn from Poland, Sergei Bodrov's Mongol from Kazakhstan and Nikita Mikhalkov's 12 from Russia.

Persepolis, also a surprise omission from the foreign language film shortlist, scored a nomination in the animated feature category alongside Ratatouille and Surf's Up. Ratatouille was a big winner with five nominations, including original screenplay, original score, sound mixing and sound editing.

Documentaries about the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the doc feature category with Charles Ferguson's No End In Sight, Richard E Robbins' Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience and Alex Gibney's Taxi To The Dark Side going up against Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's Uganda-set War/Dance and Michael Moore's Sicko.

Roger Deakins took two nominations in the cinematography category for both No Country and The Assassination Of Jesse James, while Disney's Enchanted won three nominations in the original song category for Happy Working Song, So Close and That's How You Know.

The late Marit Allen receives a costume design nomination posthumously for La Vie En Rose.

Biggest winners were the studios' specialty labels. Leading the pack was Miramax Films with a total of 21 nominations. Miramax has domestic on No Country and international on There Will Be Blood, and also scored four nominations for The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and one for Gone Baby Gone.

Paramount Vantage, which has domestic on There Will Be Blood and international on No Country as well as Into The Wild and The Kite Runner, took 19.

Focus Features took seven nominations for Atonement and one for Eastern Promises, while Fox Searchlight took four for Juno, two for The Savages and one for Once.

Warner Bros, which has domestic on Michael Clayton and international on Sweeney Todd as well as The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and August Rush, took 13, with its specialty unit Warner Independent Pictures scoring one for In The Valley Of Elah.