The 81st Oscar nominations came with some surprises up its sleeve this morning, snubbing the year’s biggest film and finding room for smaller performances.
The Dark Knight, the second-largest-grossing movie of all-time, was left off the Best Picture list in favour of a list of critical favourites that include Slumdog Millionaire, the little movie that could. Slumdog, which won the Golden Globe earlier this month, also garnered nominations for adapted screenplay and for director Danny Boyle. In all, it got nine nominations.
The other nominated pictures are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which led the pack with 13 nominations, along with Frost/Nixon, Milk — which had eight nominations — and The Reader. All the Best Picture directors were also nominated.
The Reader, a post-Holocaust drama about the love affair between an older woman and a young man, was a surprise inclusion because of its controversial subject matter. It also won a Best Actress nomination for Kate Winslet, who had earlier won the Supporting Actress award at the Golden Globes. Winslet had been touted as a possible Best Actress nominee for the acidic 1950s drama Revolutionary Road, but she and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio were snubbed, as was the movie itself.
Joining Winslet in the Actress category was Melissa Leo, star of the well-received but decidedly small drama Frozen River. She’s going up against Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie in Changeling, and Meryl Streep in Doubt.
It was a good day overall in the Jolie household: husband Brad Pitt, who ages backwards as Benjamin Button, was also nominated, along with Mickey Rourke, the comeback kid, who won the Golden Globe for his portrayal of an over-the-hill wrestler in The Wrestler. Frank Langella, who played Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, and Sean Penn, as the gay politician Harvey Milk in Milk, are joined by longtime character actor Richard Jenkins, the star of another small but much-loved movie The Visitor.
The supporting categories also were filled with unexpected names. The Supporting Actress nominees included favourites Marisa Tomei as a stripper in The Wrestler and Penelope Cruz as an angry wife in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but also Amy Adams as the innocent nun and Viola Davis as the mother of a boy who may have been abused, both in Doubt, along with Taraji P. Henson, another surprise for her turn as the adoptive mother of Pitt’s character in Benjamin Button.
The supporting actor nominations were headed by the favourites, the late Heath Ledger, as the evil Joker in The Dark Knight and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a priest who may or may not be a child abuser, in Doubt. But the rest of the list showed a tendency for the Academy to take chances: Josh Brolin as the conflicted politician in Milk, Robert Downey Jr., performing in blackface as a method actor in Tropic Thunder, and Michael Shannon as the mentally ill intruder in Revolutionary Road, the only major award for that movie.
The Quebec movie The Necessities of Life, which was on the short list for Best Foreign Film, did not make the cut.
The nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards:
BEST ACTOR – SUPPORTING
BEST ACTRESS – SUPPORTING
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Canwest News Service