The 81st Academy Awards nominations were announced yesterday in Los Angeles by Forest Whitaker, and there were a few surprises among the nominees. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button landed most nominations overall, with 13, followed by Slumdog Millionaire with 10. The Dark Knight and Milk landed eight each, the former largely in the technical categories. Behind them, with five apiece, were The Reader, Frost/Nixon, Doubt and Wall-E.

Best Picture nominees were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire. The Best Director nominees – as is often the case at Oscar time – exactly matched the Best Picture nominees with, respectively, nods for David Fincher, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant, Stephen Daldry and Danny Boyle.

Best Actress had surprises – Melissa Leo for Frozen River got a surprise nod (and there was another for that film’s Best Original Screenplay), while Kate Winslet was nominated for The Reader rather than Revolutionary Road. Both Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married and Angelina Jolie for Changeling were nominated too, keeping the star quotient high. Best Actor went more to form, with nods for Brad Pitt, Mickey Rourke, Sean Penn and Frank Langella, except for Richard Jenkins’ welcome surprise nod for The Visitor.

The Supporting Actress nominations were much as expected, largely reflecting the Golden Globes nominees – except for the omission of Kate Winslet for The Reader since she’d moved to Best Actress here. The Supporting Actor nods had fewer surprises, except for the inclusion of Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, but fear not, Bat-fans: the expected Heath Ledger nod is present and correct.

Best Foreign Film saw nods for The Baader Meinhoff Complex and Waltz with Bashir, which came as a relief to a category that has been beset by controversial omissions of great films in recent years. Best Animated Film saw three nods, for Bolt, Kung Fu Panda and of course Wall-E, which also got a nod for Best Original Screenplay.

Quite frankly I think that although Ledger has a well earned nod for his portrayal of The Joker and the Academy has shown it has a sense of humour in nominating Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder, The Dark Knight should have been nominated Best Picture and Director over the Oscar baiting The Reader which isn’t a patch on the aforementioned Bats! Oh well one day justice may prevail! 

The full list of nominees is:

Best Film
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – David Fincher
Frost/Nixon – Ron Howard
Milk – Gus Van Sant
The Reader – Stephen Daldry
Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle
Actor In A Leading Role
The Visitor – Richard Jenkins
Frost/Nixon – Frank Langella
Milk – Sean Penn
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button –
Brad Pitt
The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke
Actor In A Supporting Role
Milk – Josh Brolin
Tropic Thunder – Robert Downey Jr.
Doubt – Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger
Revolutionary Road – Michael Shannon
Actress In A Leading Role
Rachel Getting Married – Anne Hathaway
Changeling – Angelina Jolie
Frozen River – Melissa Leo
Doubt – Meryl Streep
The Reader – Kate Winslet
Actress In A Supporting Role
Doubt – Amy Adams
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Penélope Cruz
Doubt – Viola Davis
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Taraji P. Henson
The Wrestler – Marisa Tomei
Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
Doubt – John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon – Peter Morgan
The Reader – David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire – Simon Beaufoy
Original Screenplay
Frozen River – Courtney Hunt
Happy-Go-Lucky – Mike Leigh
In Bruges – Martin McDonagh
Milk – Dustin Lance Black
WALL-E – Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter
Animated Feature
Kung Fu Panda
Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
Costume Design
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road
Documentary Feature
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water
Documentary Short
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex
The Class
Waltz with Bashir
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Original Score
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Alexandre Desplat
Defiance – James Newton Howard
Milk – Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire – A.R. Rahman
WALL-E – Thomas Newman
Original Song
WALL-E – “Down to Earth”
Slumdog Millionaire – “Jai Ho”
Slumdog Millionaire – “O Saya”
Sound Editing
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
Sound Mixing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Animated Short
La Maison de Petits Cubes
Lavatory – Lovestory
This Way Up
Live Action Short
Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)