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'Brokeback Mountain' Leads Oscar Noms With Eight

31 Jan, 2006 By: Gregg K. Chris M.

Brokeback Mountain

With eight nominations, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, a tale of two ranch hands struggling with their love for each other, was king of the rodeo as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the 78th annual Academy Awards Tuesday morning, Jan. 31.

In the select best picture circle, it was joined by Bennett Miller's Capote, Paul Haggis' Crash, George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck and Steven Spielberg's Munich.

Each of the best pic nominees also earned a best directing nomination for their helmers. It is the first time since 1981 that the two categories have matched each other exactly.

Brokeback's principal cast also figured in the acting heats. Heath Ledger, who plays the taciturn Ennis Del Mar, was nominated for best actor, while Michelle Williams, who plays his wife in the film, was recognized in the best supporting actress category, while Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays his sometimes lover Jack Twist, was nominated for best supporting actor.

In addition to Ledger, the best actor lineup includes Terrence Howard, who plays a would-be rapper in Hustle & Flow, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who inhabits the real-life character of Truman Capote in Capote, Joaquin Phoenix, who sings as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and David Straithairn, who appears as newsman Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

Phoenix's co-star in Walk the Line, Reese Witherspoon, who plays Cash's wife, June Carter Cash, was nominated for best actress along with Judi Dench, who plays an uppercrust British woman who opens a nudie review in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Felicity Huffman, who transforms herself as a pre-operative transsexual in Transamerica, Keira Knightly, who stars as Jane Austen's headstrong heroine Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, and Charlize Theron, who plays a miner who files a sexual harassment suit in North Country.

In addition to earning directing and writing nominations for Good Night, Clooney appeared on the best supporting actor list for his appearance as a CIA operative in Syriana. The supporting actor field also includes Matt Dillon, who appears as a racially insensitive cop in Crash, Paul Giamatti, who plays the corner man to boxer James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man, William Hurt, who is a chilling mob boss in A History of Violence, and Brokeback's Gyllenhaal.

For best supporting actress, the Academy nominated Amy Adams, who plays a pregnant, young Southerner in Junebug, Catherine Keener, who is seen as novelist Harper Lee in Capote, Frances McDormand, who plays a union organizer in North Country, Rachel Weisz, who acts as a risk-taking activist in The Constant Gardener, and Brokeback's Williams.

For best original screenplay, the nominees are: Crash, screenplay by Haggis & Bobby Moresco, story by Haggis; Good Night, by Clooney & Grant Heslov; Match Point, by Woody Allen; The Squid and the Whale, by Noah Baumbach; and Syriana, by Stephen Gaghan. Gaghan managed to win a spot in the original screenplay category, even though Gaghan had submitted it in the adapted category and the Academy had reclassified it without his knowledge.

For adapted screenplay, the nominees are Brokeback, by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana; Capote, by Dan Futterman; The Constant Gardener, by Jeffrey Caine; A History of Violence, by Josh Olson; and Munich, by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth.

In the animation race, the Academy steered clear of currently fashionable CGI animation, and nominated Hayao Miyazaki's traditionally animated Howl's Moving Castle and two stop-motion animation films, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson's Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Nick Park and Steve Box's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

The documentary hit March of the Penguins earned a spot in the documentary category, along with Darwin's Nightmare, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Murderball and Street Fight.

For foreign language film, the Academy nominated Italy's Don't Tell, France's Joyeux Noel, Palestine's Paradise Now, Germany's Sophie Scholl — The Final Days and South Africa's Tsotsi.

John Williams has notched a record-breaking Oscar performance for composers.

Taking a pair of best original score nominations for his work on Memoirs of a Geisha (a Golden Globe winner last month) and Munich, Williams now boasts 45 music nominations, breaking a tie with the late Alfred Newman. Williams now stands in second place among all-time Academy Award nominees, behind only Walt Disney's 59.

Williams is pitted against three first-time nominees: Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain), Dario Marianelli (Pride & Prejudice) and Alberto Iglesias (The Constant Gardener).

Country and pop star Dolly Parton reaped her second original song nomination, for "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica; her first came in 1980 for the title song from 9 to 5.

The three-song field is rounded out by "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from the rap-themed feature Hustle & Flow, and "In the Deep," the atmospheric track from Crash, co-written by musician-actress Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker.The winning Oscars will be announced March 5 at ceremonies broadcast live by ABC from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

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