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The 2009 Academy Award Nominees PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 13:07

Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonWell before the 2009 Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, Oscar-watchers were abuzz over the potential excitement in this year's major categories. Would Slumdog Millionaire's seemingly unstoppable march toward a Best Picture win be derailed by a surge of popular support for The Dark Knight or even - gulp! - WALL•E? Would the season's continued award-splitting between Milk's Sean Penn (recipient of 15 pre-Oscar citations thus far) and The Wrestler's Mickey Rourke (14 and counting) allow Clint Eastwood to sneak in a career-achievement win for Gran Torino? Would Kate Winslet receive her long-overdue trophy for Best Actress in Revolutionary Road, or for Best Supporting Actress in The Reader ... or could the performer, as she did at the Golden Globes, actually walk away with both awards?

The excitement was fun while it lasted, huh?

Granted, we still have the Penn/Rourke showdown to look forward to, and Winslet might now be in a better position for an Oscar victory than she was prior to 5:40 a.m. PST. But to quote the Facebook message I received minutes after the nominations were announced, this year's line-up is incredibly "meh" - no Picture or Director nods for The Dark Knight (despite eight nominations overall, which is nothing to sniff at); WALL•E (six nominations) receiving its fait accompli Animated Feature recognition but denied a shot at the big prize; Clint - with Gran Torino and Changeling giving him shots at Actor, Picture, Director, Score, and Original Song - completely shut out; and Winslet, in one of the morning's few pleasant surprises, getting a Best Actress citation for The Reader (which is the category that performance belongs in) instead of Revolutionary Road.

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in In BrugesOther surprises? Well, after being ignored by nearly every Oscar precursor under the sun, Michael Shannon received a long-shot Supporting Actor nod for Revolutionary Road, and the Original Screenplay category found room for Courtney Hunt's Frozen River and Martin McDonaugh's In Bruges. (It was a happy morning for playwrights; in addition to McDonaugh, of The Pillowman fame, there were nominations for David Hare, Peter Morgan, and John Patrick Shanley.) Veteran character actors Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River) got an invitation to the February 22 ceremony. And while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the expected leader in total nominations - 13 in all, the highest tally since 2002's Chicago - Slumdog Millionaire racked up 10 without having any of its actors nominated.

Two of those nominations, by the by, were for Best Original Song - "Jai Ho" and "O Saya" - which begs the question: Where the hell is Bruce Springsteen's nomination for The Wrestler? And why, with WALL•E's "Down to Earth" filling out the roster, were only three songs nominated instead of the typical five? (You could've stocked the category with tunes from High School Musical 3 all by itself.)

Other notable dissings: Golden Globe winner (and recipient of nine other pre-Oscar accolades) Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky; Waltz with Bashir for Animated Feature (though the cartoon documentary is among this year's Foreign Language Film nominees); Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona screenplay; The Wrestler for anything other than Rourke and Supporting Actress contender Marisa Tomei; The Dark Knight for Original Score (especially after the Academy tumult regarding its eligibility); Rachel Getting Married for anything besides Anne Hathaway ... .

Heath Ledger in The Dark KnightInstead, the Academy generally played it safe; there was no outlandishly out-there choice, and very, very little to raise the blood pressure come February 22. Another Best Director nod for the proficient, mostly unimaginative Ron Howard. Another nod - albeit a moderately surprising one - for The Reader's Stephen Daldry, who has now been nominated for each of the three movies he's directed. (The Reader did quite well with five total nominations, proving that you can never underestimate the Academy's penchant for a good, middlebrow Holocaust tale.) Invitations to the ball for the combined star power of Brangelina ... though the pair deserved recognition more for Burn After Reading and Wanted than the films they were actually cited for. And a Best Picture and Director lineup that matched five-for-five for only the second time in more than a quarter-century.  (Yet also the second time in only four years. Hmm.)

But hey, at least composer Danny Elfman - ignored since his dual nominations for 1997's Good Will Hunting and Men in Black - was welcomed back to the club for Milk, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army snuck in a more-than-deserved Makeup nod. And, of course, we're one step closer to watching Heath Ledger getting named Best Supporting Actor. Its collective tastes this year may have been a bit on the careful side, but at least you can't argue that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was completely out-to-lunch.

And here ... we ... go.

 

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Stephen Daldry, The Reader

David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon

Gus Van Sant, Milk

 

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

Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Dustin Lance Black, Milk

Courtney Hunt, Frozen River

Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky

Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter, WALL•E

 

BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTATION

Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

David Hare, The Reader

Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon

Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

WALL-E

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Slumdog Millionaire, "Jai Ho"

Slumdog Millionaire, "O Saya"

WALL•E, "Down to Earth"

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Baader Meinhof Complex, Germany

The Class, France

Departures, Japan

Revanche, Austria

Waltz with Bashir, Israel

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire

Trouble the Water

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Defiance

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL•E

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

 

BEST FILM EDITING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Frost/Nixon

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Duchess

Revolutionary Road

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Australia

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Duchess

Milk

Revolutionary Road

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL•E

Wanted

 

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL•E

Wanted

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

 

BEST MAKEUP

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306

 

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)

Manon on the Asphalt

New Boy

The Pig

Spielzeugland (Toyland)

 

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

La Maison en Petits Cubes

Lavatory - Lovestory

Oktapodi

Presto

This Way Up

 


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