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by Peter Knegt
January 22, 2009 1:43 AM
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"Button," "Slumdog" Lead 81st Academy Award Nominations

The nominees for best picture at the 81st annual Academy Awards.

David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" led the nominations for the 81st annual Academy Awards, it was announced this morning by Academy president Sid Ganis and actor Forest Whitaker. Among "Button"'s 13 nods were best picture of the year, along with Stephen Daldry's "The Reader," Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon," Gus Van Sant's "Milk," and Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire." "Slumdog" had the second highest total with 10 nominations, while "Milk" and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" each took eight.

The nominations were full of surprises, most notably snubs for "The Dark Knight" in both best picture and best director categories, and Kate Winslet's sole nomination for lead actress in "The Reader". "The Reader" took a surprisingly high five nods, including both best picture and director. Stephen Daldry has now received Oscar nominations for directing all three of his feature films. Winslet's other film, "Revolutionary Road," took only three nods for costume design, art direction and best supporting actor, Michael Shannon.

Other omissions included Clint Eastwood for his performance in "Gran Torino," Sally Hawkins for "Happy-Go-Lucky," Kristin Scott Thomas for "I've Loved You So Long," and Dev Patel for "Slumdog Millionaire." Woody Allen failed to take a widely expected screenplay nomination for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and Bruce Springsteen did not receive a nomination for writing the theme song for "The Wrestler."

Jan Troell's "Everlasting Moments" was excluded from the foreign film list, which did include "The Baader Meinhof Complex," "The Class," "Depatures," "Revanche" and "Waltz With Bashir." However "Bashir" was surprisingly left off the animated film list in favor of "Bolt," "Kung Fu Panda" and the very likely winner "WALL-E," which took a total of six nominations (one more than last year's "Ratatouille").

Three of the five best documentary nominees premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival - Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath's "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," James Marsh's "Man on Wire," and Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's "Trouble The Water" - as did double nominee "Frozen River" (nominated for best actress and best original screenplay) and "In Bruges" (best original screenplay). Among the docs that failed to make it past November's fifteen-long shortlist were "Pray The Devil Back To Hell" and "Standard Operating Procedure."

Nine of the twenty acting nominees are first-timers (including veteran actors like Richard Jenkins and Frank Langella), while five are previous winners (Meryl Streep, Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sean Penn and Angelina Jolie). "Revolutionary Road"'s Michael Shannon was the only acting nominee to not receive a nomination from any of the major precursors.

The complete list of nominations:

MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin)
"Frost/Nixon" (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Eric Fellner)
"Milk" (Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen)
"The Reader" (nominees to be determined)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Christian Colson)

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
Gus Van Sant, "Milk"

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, "Doubt"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Taraji P. Hensen, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr, "Tropic Thunder"
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road"

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Martin McDonough, "In Bruges"
Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docte, "Wall-E"

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"
Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"
David Hare, "The Reader"
Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
"Bolt" (Chris Williams and Byron Howard)
"Kung Fu Panda" (John Stevenson and Mark Osborne)
"WALL-E" (Andrew Stanton)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Germany)
"The Class" (France)
"Departures" (Japan)
"Revanche" (Austria)
"Waltz With Bashir" (Israel)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)" (Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath)
"Encounters at the End of the World" (Werner Herzog)
"The Garden" (Scott Hamilton Kennedy)
"Man on Wire" (James Marsh)
"Trouble the Water" (Tia Lessin, Carl Deal)

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
"Down To Earth" (WALL-E)
"Jai Ho" (Slumdog Millionaire)
"O Saya" (Slumdog Millionaire)

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC (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

ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
"The Dark Knight," Lee Smith
"Frost/Nixon," Mike Hill, Dan Hanley
"Milk," Elliot Graham
"Slumdog Millionaire," Chris Dickens

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
"Changeling," Tom Stern
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Claudio Miranda
"The Dark Knight," Wally Pfister
"The Reader," Chris Menges, Roger Deakins
"Slumdog Millionaire," Anthony Dod Mantle

ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
"Changeling," James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo
"The Dark Knight," Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando
"The Duchess," Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway
"Revolutionary Road," Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
"Australia," Catherine Martin
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Jacqueline West
"The Duchess," Michael O'Connor
"Milk," Danny Glicker
"Revolutionary Road," Albert Wolsky

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
"The Dark Knight," Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber, Paul Franklin
"Iron Man," John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick, Shane Mahan

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
"The Dark Knight," Richard King
"Iron Man," Frank Eulner, Christopher Boyes
"Slumdog Millionaire," Tom Sayers
"WALL-E," Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood
"Wanted," Wylie Stateman

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Mark Weingarten
"The Dark Knight," Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
"Slumdog Millionaire," Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty
"WALL-E," Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt
"Wanted," Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño, Petr Forejt

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Greg Cannom
"The Dark Knight, John Caglione, Jr., Conor O'Sullivan
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army," Mike Elizalde, Thom Floutz

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
"The Conscience of Nhem En," Steven Okazaki
"The Final Inch," Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tom Grant
"Smile Pinki," Megan Mylan
"The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306," Adam Petofsky, Margaret Hyde

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
"La Maison de Petits Cubes," Kunio Kato
"Lavatory - Lovestory," Konstantin Bronzit
"Oktapodi," Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand
"Presto," Doug Sweetland
"This Way Up," Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
"Auf der Strecke" (On the Line)," Reto Caffi
"Manon on the Asphalt," Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont
"New Boy," Steph Green, Tamara Anghie
"The Pig," Tivi Magnusson, Dorte Høgh
"Spielzeugland" (Toyland), Jochen Alexander Freydan

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