'Benjamin' on the Oscar button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button came out on top in today’s announcement of nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards. The romantic fantasy led contenders with 13 nominations, including best picture, acting nods for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson, and a best director slot went to David Fincher.

Rounding out the best picture category were TV-landmark drama Frost/Nixon; gay-themed political biopic Milk; post-war Germany picture The Reader; and romantic crowd-favourite Slumdog Millionaire.

Slumdog continues its rags-to-riches journey, coming in second with 10 nominations, including best director for Danny Boyle, best adapted screenplay for Simon Beaufoy and two of the three song slots.

However, Slumdog’s musical fortune may have come at the expense of Bruce Springsteen, who won best original song for “The Wrestler” at the Golden Globes but failed to receive an Oscar nomination. Springsteen’s Globe competitor Clint Eastwood also found himself without a nomination in the major categories for either The Changeling or Gran Torino.

As expected, Heath Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor for his intensely villainous portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight. The selection comes on the one-year anniversary of the actor’s death from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Surprisingly, the Batman blockbuster was shut out of other top categories, gaining its other seven nominations in technical categories, such as cinematography, visual effects and editing.

The remaining supporting actor spots went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt, Josh Brolin for Milk, Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder and Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road.

Despite Kate Winslet’s double-Golden Globe win, she was left out of the supporting actress category, only earning a leading actress nod for her role in The Reader.

Going up against Winslet are Meryl Streep for Doubt, Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Angelinia Jolie for The Changeling and Melissa Leo for Frozen River.

Making up the supporting actress group are Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Penelope for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Viola Davis for Doubt, Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler and Amy Adams for Doubt.

The lead actor lineup is comprised of Pitt, Sean Penn for Milk, Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler, Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon and Richard Jenkins for The Visitor.

Joining Fincher and Boyle in the director category are Gus Van Sant for Milk, Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon and Stephen Daldry for The Reader.

The 81st annual Academy Awards will be held February 22, 2009 in Los Angeles. This year’s event will be hosted by Hugh Jackman.

Below is a full list of nominees:

Best picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best director
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire

Best actor
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler

Best actress
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt
Kate Winslet, “The Reader

Best supporting actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Best supporting actress
Amy Adams, “Doubt
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, “Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler

Best foreign-language film
“The Baader Meinhof Complex,” Germany
“The Class,” France
“Departures,” Japan
“Revanche,” Austria
“Waltz With Bashir,” Israel

Best adapted screenplay
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”
David Hare, “The Reader
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire

Best original screenplay
Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”
Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black, “Milk”
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, “WALL-E”

Best animated feature film
“Kung Fu Panda”

Best art direction
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“The Duchess”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best cinematography
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best sound mixing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
Slumdog Millionaire

Best sound editing
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”
Slumdog Millionaire

Best original score
Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
James Newton Howard, “Defiance”
Danny Elfman, “Milk”
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire
Thomas Newman, “WALL-E”

Best original song
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E,” Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best costume design
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Duchess”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best documentary feature
“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”
“Encounters at the End of the World”
“The Garden”
“Man on Wire”
“Trouble the Water”

Best documentary (short subject)
“The Conscience of Nhem En”
“The Final Inch”
“Smile Pinki”
“The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306”

Best film editing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
Slumdog Millionaire

Best makeup
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Best animated short film
“La Maison en Petits Cubes”
“Lavatory — Lovestory”
“This Way Up”

Best live action short film
“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)”
“Manon on the Asphalt”
“New Boy”
“The Pig”
“Spielzeugland (Toyland)”

Best visual effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”

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