< Film Review Special #73: Academy Award Nominations, 2009
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Academy Award Nominations, 2009

Two faces of Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In defiance of the all-pervading credit crunch, the cream of the Hollywood crop will be out in force on Sunday February 22 to celebrate the 81st Annual Academy Awards. And now we’ve found out just who will be vying for one of those coveted golden statues, with the announcement of the official nominations.

David Fincher’s epic adaptation of an F Scott Fitzgerald short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leads the pack, with an impressive 13 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt, pictured above), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

Other contenders in the Best Picture category are equally as unsurprising; real-life political thriller Frost/NixonFrost/Nixon, biopic Milk, WWII drama The Reader and India-set drama Slumdog Millionaire. Also expected was Heath Ledger’s nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Up against him are Josh Brolin, for his portrayal of troubled politician Dan Wright in Milk; Robert Downey Jr for his scene stealing role in Tropic Thunder; Philip Seymour Hoffman for his stoic performance in Doubt and Michael Shannon for his turn in Revolutionary Road.

Anne HathawayUnlike with both the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, Kate Winslet has only been nominated once, in the Best Actress category for The Reader. Joining her on the list are Anne Hathaway, who stunned critics with her excellent performance in family drama Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie for Changeling; Meryl Streep for Doubt and Melissa Leo for her role in well-received independent drama Frozen River.

Sean PennThe Best Actor nominations list is packed with big-hitters, including as it does Frank Langella, who portrayed disgraced former president Richard Nixon to great acclaim in Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn for his inspirational turn as gay Californian politician Harvey Milk in Milk; Brad Pitt, given the nod for his excellent work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke who continues on the comeback trail with The Wrestler and Richard Jenkins, for his role in drama The Visitor.

Penelope CruzAnd rounding off the acting nominations is the Best Supporting Actress category, populated by some seriously talented women. Amy Adams is on there for her performance as innocent nun Sister James in religious thriller Doubt, and her co-star Viola Davis given the nod for her small but perfectly formed role in the same film. Penelope Cruz’s work in Woody Allen comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona has been recognized by the Academy, as has Marisa Tomei for providing sterling support as a stripper with a heart in The Wrestler. And joining them is Taraji P Henson, for her outstanding portrayal as Benjamin’s foster mum Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

The battle for Best Director will be one of the biggest of the night, and its the same films cropping up here as in the other nominations. American masters Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Gus Van Sant (Milk) and David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) are joined on the list by British film-makers Stephen Daldry (The Reader) and Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). We’re certainly very glad we don’t have to choose between them!

For a full list of nominations, and other Oscar news, log onto the official website www oscar.com . The Academy Awards, to be presented by Hugh Jackman, will take place on February 22, and we’ll be sure to bring you all the results – and the gossip…

by Nikki Baughan

Feature © Visual Imagination 2009. Not for reproduction

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