'Benjamin Button' leads nominations for 'Curious' 81st Academy Awards show

Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 11:37 AM Central

by John Couture

One year ago today, Heath Ledger's death rocked Hollywood and his Academy Award nomination this morning for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight is an appropriate aknowledgment to remember the talented actor. He will be the seventh actor to compete posthumously for an Oscar with the only win so far going to Peter Finch for his role in 1976's Network.

Heath's nomination underscores a year when the movies being celebrated deal weightily in the issues of life and death. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button lead all movies with 13 nominations including nods for Best Picture, Best Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Director for David Fincher.

Benjamin Button is based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and follows the interesting story of a man born into old age and actually progresses through the life cycle in reverse, becoming younger as he ages. Indie upstart Slumdog Millionaire rode its four Golden Globe wins to 10 Oscar Nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Danny Boyle.

One interesting storyline to follow on Awards night is the dual Best Acting noms for Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Pitt is nominated for Best Actor for the aforementioned The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, while Jolie snagged a Best Actress nomination for Changeling. While both categories are wide open, one thing is for sure, these two will need to book their babysitter now.

Speaking of the Best Actor category, this year's race looks to maintain its long-held honor of being one of the most hotly contested categories. Comeback story of the year Mickey Rourke might have a slight edge with his Golden Globe win and acceptance speech that included shout outs to his dogs, but don't count out a robust field that includes Frank Langella, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt. The one real darkhorse in this category is Richard Jenkins who portrays a Connecticut economics professor whose life is changed by a trip to New York in The Visitor.

One movie that would seem to have a beef with the Academy this morning would be Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino which got shutout after debuting to a warm box office reception and wonderful buzz for Eastwood's performance. And finally, one nomination that still has me scratching my head is the Best Original Screenplay nod for WALL-E. I mean seriously, there is no dialog, save for a few robotic beeps and whistles, for a great portion of the movie.

I can see George Lucas now demanding a recount for his R2-D2 dialog.

The Oscars will be given out in a star-studded extravaganza on February 22 that will be televised live on ABC. In the meantime, tell us what you think of the nominations and who got the biggest snub.

Here are the complete nominations:

Best Picture

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

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

Actress In A Leading Role

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

Actor In A Supporting Role

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

Actress In A Supporting Role

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


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

Original Screenplay

Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, 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

Kung Fu Panda

Art Direction

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Costume Design

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

Documentary Feature

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water

Documentary Short Subject

The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306

Film Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Foreign Language Film

Germany, The Baader Meinhof Complex
France, The Class
Japan, Departures
Austria, Revanche
Israel, Waltz with Bashir


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Music (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

Music (Original Song)

'Down to Earth' by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, WALL-E
'Jai Ho' by A.R. Rahman and Gulzar, Slumdog Millionaire
'O Saya' by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam, Slumdog Millionaire

Short Film (Animated)

La Maison en Petits Cubes
Lavatory - Lovestory
This Way Up

Short Film (Live Action)

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Sound Editing

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire

Sound Mixing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

Source: Oscar.com