'Benjamin Button' gets 13 Academy Award nominations; Heath Ledger tapped for best supporting
The creators of Forrest Gump must be happy, because their movie was nominated for 13 Academy Awards on Thursday as the contenders for the 81st Oscars were announced. What's that? The 13 noms were for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? Oh well, same movie, but with a guy who gets younger instead of being mentally slow.
Among the possibilities are best picture and acting honors for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson, and a directing slot for David Fincher, the AP reports. Other lead actor slots went to Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Sean Penn (Milk), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), and longshot Richard Jenkins (The Visitor).
"This is a great honor for the movie, and I'm especially happy for David Fincher, for without him there would be no Ben Button," Pitt said in a statement. Other best director nominees matched the best picture finalists: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Gus Van Sant (Milk) and Stephen Daldry (The Reader).
On the first anniversary of his death, Heath Ledger was posthumously nominated as best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, which surprises no one who actually saw the movie. But the Batman fable, which scored 8 total looks (mostly for technical stuff no one cares about), was summarily shut out from other top categories, such as best director and best picture. Other best-picture nominees are Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire, which had a stellar 10 nominations, but none for best actor.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder but not Iron Man) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) round out the supporting actor lineup.
Meanwhile, Pitt's partner in child-rearing, Angelina Jolie, garnered a look for best actress for Changeling, which was directed by The Man With No Name -- who was shut out of any acting honors for Gran Torino, likely his final lead role. In fact, that flick got zero noms. Zero!
"Working with Clint Eastwood was a reward in itself that will last me a lifetime," Jolie, a supporting-actress Oscar winner for Girl, Interrupted, said in a statement. "To receive a nomination from the academy on top of that is a privilege beyond any expectation."
Another bizarre turn is that Kate Winslet's double Golden Globe wins (best dramatic actress for Revolutionary Road and supporting actress for The Reader) were turned topsy turvy by the Academy, who tapped her for best actress for The Reader while shutting her out for Road entirely. Besides Jolie, Winslet faces two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Doubt, her 15th nomination), and first-time nominees Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River).
In the supporting actress competition, previous winner Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) faces Amy Adams (Doubt) first-timers Viola Davis (Doubt) and Button's Henson and Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona), previously a best actress nominee for Volver.
And in the nominations for Tired of Strange Decisions from the Academy, The Juice* is the clear-cut winner. For a full list of nominees, go to www.oscar.com.
[Photo: Forest Whitaker and Sid Ganis announce the nominees Monday. Getty Images]