81st Academy Awards (for 2008): Nominations

by HELEN GEIB

The Academy Award nominees for 2008 for best picture, animated feature, director, actress and actor, supporting actress and actor, and original and adapted screenplay are after the break. The awards ceremony is Sunday, February 22 at 8ET. Check back the week before the broadcast for our “will win” and “should win” picks. Comments to this post grumbling over the Academy’s most egregious oversights in the nominations are encouraged.

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

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E

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

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

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

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

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Courtney Hunt for Frozen River
Mike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black for Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon (story by Stanton and Pete Docter) for Wall-E

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth (story by Roth and Robin Swicord) for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley for Doubt
Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon
David Hare for The Reader
Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire

10 responses to “81st Academy Awards (for 2008): Nominations

  1. Why doesn’t it surprise me that Harvey Weinstein is all over this? I’m sure it’s a touching tale, but really? One of the best five of the year. I blame this particular film, if The Wrestler were nominated, I would have been thrilled and not insulted, like I am with this inclusion. Not entirely defending the “fan boys” of comics made to film, but how could The Dark Knight NOT make the list? It was critically and commercially successful. In past years when Ghost and The Sixth Sense come to mind in terms of movies that made loot that got a nod, I find it a huge snub. This will leave a red mark longer than expected.

  2. Don’t get me started on Josh Brolin for Milk. What did he really do? Oh, he plays the assassin and that’s it. I guess they didn’t want to split hairs with his much better performance of Bush in W. Sad, sad year. However I put my vote to Slumdog for being Best picture, because it is truly deserving

  3. i’ll be pretty surprised if any of the best picture nominees find their way into my favourites list this year, but y’never know. 2 down, 3 to go.

  4. The slate this year reaffirms that the Academy’s most persistent and pervasive bias is the bias in favor of end of year releases. Of the best picture nominees, only Benjamin Button with its release date of Christmas Day was in general release in 2008. (Slumdog and Frost/Nixon only expanded into general release today – the day after the nominations were announced – and Milk has yet to do so.) It is really quite surprising that one of the year’s best films, In Bruges, received even a (well deserved) screenplay nomination. Its first quarter 2008 release date virtually guaranteed it would not receive what would have been equally well deserved nominations for best picture, actor – Colin Farrell, and supporting actor – Brendan Gleeson.

    Next to the year end bias I am probably most frustrated by the Academy’s lockstep approach to nominations each year and from year to year. Many categories, yet so few films, so few new faces…

  5. Well, I am going to have to disagree with most of what Helen said. Because of the Academy rules, studios position films that are likely to win Oscars in this part of the year. If the rules were different, we’d still see manipulation by the studios. I would not favor any sort of system that would require films to have a “wide” release in the calendar year because it would make indie films pretty much ineligible for awards (yes, it’s rare for them to get nominated, but sometimes they beat the odds).

    The Academy made some bold choices this year in terms of new faces. Melissa Leo over Cate Blanchett? Richard Jenkins over Clint Eastwood? There were almost no stars at all in Slumdog Millionaire. David Fincher and Danny Boyle have never been nominated for Best Director before. As for actors, Frank Langella, Mickey Rourke, Michael Shannon, Josh Brolin, Richard Jenkins, Anne Hathaway, Viola Davis, and Taraji P. Henson have never been nominated before.

    Also, Helen, though you may have a soft spot for the movie, I doubt In Bruges would have secured many more nominations even if it had been released in the latter part of the year.

    This was a fairly weak for film (perhaps because of the writer’s strike), which is why a lot of the Academy choices, but I think the Oscars do a better job than other awards shows, like the Emmys which make much more egregious oversights (and nominate the same shows every year) and the Grammys, which are completely out of touch with what’s good in music.

    As far as my own personal lamentations for egregious oversights, I’m going to say Bruce Springsteen for Best Song and Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky (not a film that I liked at all – in fact, I think it’s terrible, but she was really good in it and other people seem to like it).

  6. I’m jazzed that Richard Jenkins got a nod for “The Visitor.” I was almost certain that the Academy would have forgotten about that movie come Oscar time. Pleasant surprise.

    And though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m a tad bewildered by the absence of “Revolutionary Road.” Hasn’t that been building up a strong buzz for awhile now?

  7. Check that, I just saw the Best Supporting actor nod. Still, probably has to be a bit underwhelming to that movie’s makers.

  8. So this may come off as somewhat random, but I’m getting a bit tired of articles whose slant is that the Academy is off base for nominating films for Best Picture that weren’t hits with mass audiences. Last time I checked, artistic quality wasn’t necessarily inextricably tied into gross profits at the cineplex.

    I’m sorry if something like “Slumdog Millionaire” didn’t score as much bucks as “The Dark Knight,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the voters are in the wrong for nominating it for that award. The nominating and voting shouldn’t be about scoring ratings for the telecast. I realize that the process isn’t necessarily as pure as it could be at the moment anyway, but these articles are really off base, IMHO.

  9. i think a lot of the people making that kind of argument tend to be irritated that batman wasn’t nominated for best picture, when in the past plenty of blockbusters have made the cut. it’s not that the awards should be focusing on high grossing movies, but that they shouldn’t intentionally be avoiding them.

    if people are actually writing articles saying the oscars should be based on mainstream appeal, then that’s obviously just nonsense.

  10. Yeah, I agree with Tom. The Dark Knight and WALL-E were two of the best reviewed films of the year, but didn’t get recognition due to the Academy bias against genre films and animated features (no need to lament this – we knew this going in). It’s arguments being made for those particular films, mostly. I haven’t seen anyone argue that Iron Man or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull deserve nods, for example.

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