Brokeback Leads with 8 Oscar Nominations
George Clooney also got major good news – three nominations: for Supporting Actor in Syriana and for his direction and his co-screenwriting of the Edward R. Murrow biopic Good Night, and Good Luck, which is also in the running as Best Picture.
Also nominated in the top category are the Truman Capote story Capote; the ensemble drama about urban tensions Crash and Steven Spielberg's thriller Munich. (Spielberg also got a Best Director nod.)
Failing to make the cut: the Johnny Cash biography Walk the Line, though its stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are up for Best Actor and Actress.
Two films tied with six nominations apiece: Crash and Good Night, and Good Luck. Memoirs of a Geisha received five, though Geisha was shut out in the top categories.
The acting categories were a mix of familiar Oscar faces such as past winners Judi Dench and Charlize Theron, veterans like Clooney, Witherspoon, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Felicity Huffman gaining their first Academy attention, and young performers such as Williams and Amy Adams, a Supporting Actress nominee for Junebug).
Besides Ledger, Phoenix and Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman, Terrence Howard scored a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of a small-time hood turned rap singer in Hustle & Flow. Also up for the honor is Strathairn for his turn as newsman Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.
For Best Actress, the race is considered to be heaviest between Witherspoon, as June Carter Cash, and Huffman, who plays a man about to undergo sex-change surgery in Transamerica. The other nominees are Dench, for Mrs. Henderson Presents, Keira Knightley, for Pride & Prejudice and Theron, for North Country.
Left standing in the cold were such contenders as Russell Crowe, for Cinderella Man; Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, for The Squid and the Whale, and Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence.
In terms of comeback, Woody Allen nabbed a screenplay nomination for his much-praised Match Point, a drama set in London that's considered his best effort in a decade.
Brokeback Mountain – a critical and, surprisingly given its storyline about two cowboys' love for one another, a commercial hit – has already claimed separate top prizes from the Producers and Directors Guilds, which strongly portend Oscar victories. But the film failed to score any trophies at Sunday's SAG Awards, with the ensemble award instead going to Crash.
The 78th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on Sunday, March 5.
Here's a list of the major nominees:
Good Night, and Good Luck
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Paul Haggis, Crash
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Steven Spielberg, Munich
Best Original Screenplay
Good Night, and Good Luck
The Squid and the Whale
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence