The Curious Case of 13 Oscar Nominations

"Benjamin Button" dominates the field

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The dramatic fable "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" dominated Thursday's Oscar nominations with a near-record 13 nods, including a best actor bid for Brad Pitt and a best picture nomination that will pit the film against "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader" and Golden Globe winner "Slumdog Millionaire."

Pitt received his second career Oscar nomination for his role as the backward-aging title character in "Benjamin Button." He will compete with Richard Jenkins, who was nominated for playing a recently widowed college professor in "The Visitor"; Frank Langella for his turn as former President Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn for his role as slain gay-rights activist/San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk in "Milk"; and Mickey Rourke for "The Wrestler."

Rourke's career-comeback performance as an aging professional grappler won him the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama earlier this month.

Anne Hathaway was nominated for best actress for her role as a recovering addict in "Rachel Getting Married," as were Angelina Jolie as the tortured mother of a missing boy in "Changeling," Melissa Leo as a poor mother who turns to crime in "Frozen River," Meryl Streep as a strict nun in "Doubt" and Kate Winslet as a German woman with a dark past in "The Reader."

Winslet was not nominated for her Golden Globe-winning performance in "Revolutionary Road," although she won a supporting actress Golden Globe for "The Reader." Winslet, 33, is the youngest performer to receive six Oscar nominations over the course of her career. The record was previously held by actress Bette Davis, who was 34 when she received her sixth nomination for "Now, Voyager" in 1942.

Winslet has never won.

Streep's nomination for her role as a school nun probing rumors of questionable behavior by a priest in "Doubt" was her 15th. She previously won a supporting actress Oscar for "Kramer vs. Kramer" and a best actress prize for "Sophie's Choice." Streep is the most-nominated performer in Oscar history. Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson are tied for second with 12 nominations each.

Meanwhile, Heath Ledger -- who died one year ago of an accidental overdose of prescription medications -- earned a posthumous nomination for best supporting actor for his critically acclaimed role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight." Ledger has already won Golden Globe and Critic's Choice awards for his work, with "The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan accepting the award on his behalf at both ceremonies.

Ledger is the sixth actor to receive a posthumous Oscar nomination. Previous posthumous nods went to James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Ralph Richardson and Massimo Troisi. Finch was the only won to win the Oscar, which he received for his leading role in 1976's "Network."

Also nominated for supporting actor were Josh Brolin for "Milk," Robert Downey Jr. for "Tropic Thunder," Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Doubt" and Michael Shannon for "Revolutionary Road."

Hoffman's "Doubt" co-stars Amy Adams and Viola Davis each received nominations for best supporting actress, along with Penelope Cruz for "Vicky Christina Barcelona," Taraji P. Henson for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and Marisa Tomei for "The Wrestler."

Five of the acting nominees -- Penn, Hoffman, Jolie, Streep and Tomei -- are previous Oscar winners.

The filmmakers behind the five best picture nominees received best director nods -- David Fincher for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Ron Howard for "Frost/Nixon," Gus Van Sant for "Milk," Stephen Daldry for "The Reader" and Danny Boyle for "Slumdog Millionaire." This is the fifth time since 1944 that the same five pictures have been recognized in both the best picture and directing categories.

With a best picture nod for "Benjamin Button," producer Kathleen Kennedy tied the record for nominations for individual producers in the category. Stanley Kramer and Steven Spielberg are the two other producers to have received six nominations. Kennedy has yet to win an Oscar.

"Benjamin Button's" 13 nominations fell one short of the record 14 nods given to the 1950 film "All About Eve" and 1997's "Titanic."

"Slumdog Millionaire," a British film about a youngster from the treacherous slums of Mumbai who becomes a national sensation on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," earned a total of 10 nominations. The film won best dramatic picture honors at the Golden Globe Awards, along with prizes for best director, screenplay and original score. The film also won five Critics Choice awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

"The Dark Knight" and "Milk" each received eight nominations.

"Bolt," "Kung Fu Panda" and "WALL-E" were nominated for best animated feature film.

In the best documentary feature category, the nominated films were "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," "Encounters at the End of the World," "The Garden," "Man on Wire" and "Trouble the Water." The four nominated films for best documentary short subject were "The Conscience of Nhem En," "The Final Inch," "Smile Pinki" and "The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306."

Oscar nominations were announced by Academy president Sid Ganis and Forest Whitaker, who won a best actor Oscar in 2007 for his role as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." The Oscars will be presented Feb. 22 in a ceremony hosted by Hugh Jackman at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

See the entire list: Academy Award Nominees

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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