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Ah, yes, so it arrived with much fanfare, and some choices have left me puzzled, other delightfully surprised. More on that later. But first, the list.

BEST PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

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

BEST ACTOR
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

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

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

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Frozen River , Courtney Hunt
Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh
Milk, Dustin Lance Black
WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Roth
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan
The Reader, David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
WALL-E

BEST ART DIRECTION
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Australia
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Milk
Revolutionary Road

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

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306

BEST EDITING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Departures (Japan)
Revanche (Austria)
Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

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

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Alexandre Desplat
Defiance, James Newton Howard
Milk, Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
WALL-E, Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
”Down to Earth,” (WALL-E)
”Jai Ho,” (Slumdog Millionaire)
”O Saya,” (Slumdog Millionaire)

BEST SOUND EDITING
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

BEST SOUND MIXING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

Notes on the nominees:

1) Pleasant surprises: Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo’s nominations for two very small indie flicks that were much revered ( Frozen River was a Sundance 2008 fave and award winner). They were also early 2008 releases and i was afraid they’d both be lost to later, showier parts. Leo you may remember from Homicide: Life On the Street. Jenkins is one of those ” That guy” actors ( I remember him as the psychiatrist Ben Stiller talks to at the beginning of There’s Something About Mary).

2) Stunned- STUNNED- but overjoyed by Michael Shannon’s nomination for Revolutionary Road. He had little buzz due to the Heath Ledger noise. He also has no shot, nor do Robert Downey Jr., Phillip Seymour Hoffman, or Josh Brolin, although Brolin has an outside shot ( he has actually won some critics awards). But if he was noticed by the Academy, Shannon’s odds might be better than we realize.

3) Expect Wall-E to win Animated. The other two flicks don’t stand a chance.

4) Dance With Bashir will win the Foreign Language award, even though Italy’s Gommorra was by far the best foreign film of the year ( it wasn’t nominated. What up?)

5) Peter Gabriel will be an Oscar winner for best song.

6) Best Doc Feature is a toss up between the stunning and engrossing Man On Wire, which has dominated pre Oscar shows. But do not count out the moving Trouble The Water. It’s about Katrina and the aftermath.

7) Robert Downey Jr’s nomination is only his second. Seriously.

8) Kate Winslet was nominated for the wrong movie. Therefore she will lose to Anne Hathaway unless they give it to Meryl, who gave what is possibly my least favorite performance of these nominees, but it’s MERYL.

9) Expect Mickey Rourke, Penelope Cruz to win for their categories. Cruz is a supporting actress nominee in a Woody Allen film. It worked for Mira Sorvino and Dianne Weist ( twice).

10) Benjamin Button leads with thirteen, Slumdog has ten, Frost/Nixon five, Milk eight, The Reader five, Doubt five, The Dark Knight  eight ( mostly in lesser tech categories), and Wall-E five.

11) Movie that gets to call itself an Oscar nominee despite being crap- Hellboy II.

12) Viola Davis is onscreen in Doubt for about five minutes.

13) Apparently the Academy preferred the turgid, lumbering The Reader to the astonishingly acted, but cutting and depressing Revolutionary Road, which is clearly the superior film. Kate was resplendent in the latter, and as much as I love her, her performance in the former left me cold. RR picked up a few nods in lesser categories.

14) All the best directors have their pictures nominated as well. Remember, the Academy has a tendency to have a best picture nominee that apparently directed itself in the mix.

15) If Slumdog does indeed prevail, it will have done so without a single acting nomination. I can’t recall the last time that happened off the top of my head.

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