- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The romantic fantasy “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” led Academy Awards contenders Thursday with 13 nominations, among them best picture and acting honors for Brad Pitt and District native and Howard University graduate Taraji P. Henson, and a directing slot for David Fincher.

Other best-picture nominees are “Frost/Nixon,” ”Milk,” ”The Reader” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

As expected, Heath Ledger had a supporting-actor nomination for “The Dark Knight” on the one-year anniversary of his death from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. But the Batman blockbuster was shut out for other top categories such as best picture and director.

Click here for the complete list of nominations


“Slumdog Millionaire” lived up to its rags-to-riches theme, coming in second with 10 nominations, including a directing spot for Danny Boyle and two of the three song slots.

Real-life couple Pitt and Angelina Jolie both will be going to the Oscars as nominees. Jolie had a best-actress nomination for the missing-child drama “Changeling.”

The acting categories were loaded with surprises. Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes, best dramatic actress for “Revolutionary Road” and supporting actress for “The Reader.” But she was nominated for lead actress at the Oscars for “The Reader” and shut out for “Revolutionary Road.”

Actors considered longshots also sneaked in, among lead-actor nominee Richard Jenkins for “The Visitor,” best-actress contender Melissa Leo for “Frozen River” and supporting-actor pick Michael Shannon for “Revolutionary Road.”

Winslet reunited with “Titanic” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for “Revolutionary Road,” but he also was shut out for a nomination on that film.

Other best-actress nominees were Anne Hathaway for “Rachel Getting Married” and Meryl Streep for “Doubt.”

Joining Pitt and Jenkins in the best-actor category were Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”; Sean Penn, “Milk”; and Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler.”

Other acting snubs included Clint Eastwood for “Gran Torino,” Sally Hawkins for “Happy-Go-Lucky” and Kristin Scott Thomas for “I’ve Loved You So Long.”

But perhaps the biggest surprise overall was the so-so results for “The Dark Knight,” which had been picking up momentum as one Hollywood trade guild after another picked it as one of the year’s best films.

The largest blockbuster in years, “The Dark Knight” had eight nominations, but other than Ledger’s honor, its scored only in technical categories such as cinematography, visual effects and editing.