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    Depp, Clooney, Oscars

    Movie stars may or may not go to the Oscars. But from George Clooney to Johnny Depp, it won't be for lack of nominations.

    A-listers came through in the top categories, as nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday in Los Angeles. (Get the complete list of nominations.)

    Clooney, the principled lawyer in Michael Clayton, and Depp, the bad barber of Sweeney Todd, will square off in the Best Actor category against Daniel Day-Lewis, who commanded There Will Be Blood and has commanded award-show season thus far; Viggo Mortensen, who bared all in Eastern Promises; and, in a surprise, Tommy Lee Jones, of the largely overlooked Iraq War drama In the Valley of Elah.

    Clooney's Michael Clayton, but not Depp's Sweeney Todd, is up for Best Picture against Golden Globe champ Atonement, indie-made-good Juno, the Coen brothers' thriller No Country for Old Men and Paul Thomas Anderson's oil gusher There Will Be Blood.

    No Country and There Will Be Blood have been inseparable this award season, and Oscar nomination day was no different: The two films tied with the most nods, eight.

    Atonement, the British family epic that seemed to be losing heat, Golden Globe win or no, and Michael Clayton, a movie that did far better in wooing critics than it did in wooing ticket buyers, were the other top multiple nominees, with seven each.

    No Country, There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton, and the trio's corresponding directors, are represented in the Best Director category, as is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly's Julian Schnabel and Juno's Jason Reitman, the 30-year-old son of directing-producing heavyweight Ivan Reitman.

    Cate Blanchett lent her boldfaced name to two categories: Best Actress, where she's up for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the sequel to the 1998 royal portrait Elizabeth that brought her her first Oscar nomination, and Best Supporting Actress, where she's up for I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan thinkpiece.

    In the Best Actress category, Blanchett will vie for the Oscar against three usual suspects—Julie Christie (Away from Her), French actress Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), 20-year-old Ellen Page (Juno) and one surprise entrant, Laura Linney—who won raves but hadn't won much else for the family comedy-drama The Savages.

    The Supporting Actress field shapes up so: I'm Not There's Blanchett; Gone Baby Gone's Amy Ryan, who won a good amount of the critics' awards; Michael Clayton's Tilda Swinton; Atonement's Saoirse Ronan, the only nominee who can make Ellen Page feel old (Ronan's 13); and, in perhaps the sweetest Oscar nod, living legend Ruby Dee, picking up a first ever nomination at age 83 for her turn as Denzel Washington's mother in American Gangster.

    Casey Affleck can add to the Affleck family's Oscar haul (older brother Ben has one for cowriting Good Will Hunting) if he wins Best Supporting Actor for taking on Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. His competition: Javier Bardem, who has won just about every available trophy, plaque and scroll for No Country for Old Men; former Best Actor winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, who went where Charlie Wilson's War's Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts didn't—and landed in the nominee field; Into the Wild's Hal Holbrook; and Michael Clayton's Tom Wilkinson.

    That Affleck was nominated and Pitt wasn't for Jesse James wasn't a surprise; that Pitt's off-screen partner wasn't nominated for A Mighty Heart, however, was.

    Angelina Jolie, who'd rated a Globe nomination for playing the wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, was one of Oscar's high-profile snubees.

    So was Sean Penn.

    Penn, a perennial Oscar favorite, and a Directors Guild of America nominee for Into the Wild, was passed over in Oscar's Best Director race. Overall, his acclaimed true-life adventure tale turned tragedy earned only two nods.

    Aside from the Penn snub (and, in turn, the Reitman inclusion), Oscar's director's category matched up name for name with the DGA nominations—a development that was not good news for Joe Wright, or Atonement.

    Wright, who helmed Atonement, was not nominated by the Oscars or the DGA, omissions that, if history holds, all but cripples his film's shot at taking Best Picture.

    American Gangster would kill, and probably quite skillfully, for Atonement's problems. The Ridley Scott drug-lord epic, which dominated the fall box office, came away with just two nominations. And if not for Dee's, it would have been shut out entirely of the glamour categories—just like stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

    It was an even worse morning for The Great Debaters, which was directed by Washington, produced by Oprah Winfrey, nominated for Best Drama at the Globes—and completely ignored by the Oscars.

    Homer Simpson knows the feeling. The Simpson Movie, a critical hit and commercial blockbuster, didn't rate a berth in the Animated Feature Film race. Ratatouille, the latest in a long line of Pixar entrants, Surf's Up, the Sony penguin comedy that did only so-so at the box office, and Persepolis, the French film about the rise of the Islamic rule in Iran, did.

    The 80th Annual Academy Awards, come writers' strike, actors' boycott and/or plague and pestilence, will go on as scheduled Feb. 24 in Hollywood, organizers vow.

    The Academy already one-upped the strike-decimated Globes by snagging a real, live movie star—onetime Best Actress winner Kathy Bates—to help announce Tuesday's nominations.

    Whether or not the A-list turns out on Oscar night is the big question. For award buffs, who on the A-list wins, and loses, is the bigger question.

    Here's a look inside the categories:

    • Joel and Ethan Coen's shared directing nomination is the first for Ethan, but not for Joel. Joel previously was up for Fargo, for which he took sole directing credit. 
    • The Coens are the first nominated codirectors since Warren Beatty and Buck Henry's team-up on 1978's Heaven Can Wait, and only the second since Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins went halfsies on 1960's West Side Story.  
    • The Coens, by the way, are also up for Adapted Screenplay and, though you wouldn't know it by looking at the nominee list, Film Editing, where they're down as their not so secret cutting identity, Roderick Jaynes. Add in the Best Picture nod for No Country, which they produced, and the brothers stand to share in four wins, in four categories.
    • Once again, box-office millions didn't buy nominations. Six of 2007's top 10 grossing films—Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I Am Legend, 300 and National Treasure: Book of Secrets—combined to earn zero nominations.
    • Not one of the Best Picture nominees has made as much as $100 million, although Juno, currently at about $87 million, just might by Oscar night.
    • For those keeping score and/or throwing something at home, Transformers netted more nominations (three) than American Gangster, which netted as many nominations (two) as The Golden Compass.
    • Not that Crowe needs the reminder, but he also wasn't nominated for 3:10 to Yuma.
    • If Blanchett wins for riffing on Dylan in I'm Not There, she'll be the second woman, after The Year of Living Dangerously's Linda Hunt, to claim an Oscar for playing a man.
    • More Blanchett trivia: She's the first woman, and fifth overall performer, to be nominated twice for playing the same role, in her case Queen Elizabeth; and, she's the 11th performer to rate lead and supporting nominations in the same year. (Nobody has yet managed to pull off a personal sweep; in fact, the last actress who pulled a Blanchett, Julianne Moore, went home empty-handed.)   
    • Oscar math is a funny thing. Persepolis, one of only three films nominated for Animated Feature, wasn't one of five films nominated for Foreign Language Film—it wasn't even one of nine films short-listed for consideration.
    • Ang Lee's Lust, Caution and Cannes champ 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days likewise failed to make the Foreign Language field, much less the short-list.
    • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, yet another high-profile non-English-language film (it's in French), wasn't even eligible for the Foreign Language Oscar.
    • Fortunately for Schnabel, the eccentricities of the Foreign Language category were not applicable to Best Director, and the artist became the second U.S. director in as many years, after Clint Eastwood, to earn a directing nod for a non-English-language film.
    • Michael Moore's health-care indictment, Sicko, wasn't as big a box-office hit as his Bush administration indictment, Fahrenheit 9/11, but it was still a hit with the Academy: The movie is a Documentary Feature nominee, alongside the currently trendy Bush Administration admonishment No End in Sight.
    • Aside from Jones' nod for In the Valley of Elah, it was a tough day for dramas about the Iraq War and, if you count Charlie Wilson's War, the Middle East, in general. Lions for Lambs and Rendition were among the snubees, while Charlie Wilson's War came away with nothing outside of the Hoffmann nomination.
    • Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz are the Coen brothers of songwriting. The composing team shared in three nominations, all in Original Song, for their work in Enchanted.
    • There Will Be Blood's Anderson also netted three nominations—for directing, for writing and for producing the Best Picture contender.
    • Three of the five Original Screenplay nominees are women: Diablo Cody (Juno), Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl) and Tamara Jenkins (The Savages). Actress turned filmmaker Sarah Polley represented in Adapted Screenplay for the Alzheimer's drama Away from Her.
    • Jason Reitman's single nomination means he's got one more than his his father— director of Ghostbusters and producer of Animal House—has managed in his 30-year-plus career. 
    Get the complete list of nominations.


    (Originally published Jan. 22, 2008 at 6:03 a.m. PT.)

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