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February 18, 2009 > Who will Oscar love this year?

Who will Oscar love this year?

By Mona Shah

It's a beloved annual tradition...the Oscars, a not-to-miss rite of passage for millions of viewers worldwide. This year promises to be no different and even though the economy is in bad shape, there is an underlying message of hope in this year's movie nominations.

The Oscars follow a ritual; things are done just so and repeated year after year. Nominations are traditionally announced on a Tuesday, but this year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pushed the date back to Thursday due to the presidential inauguration. Soon after, the Academy hosts an Oscar nominee's luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel serving as a casual dress rehearsal, allowing first-timers to receive pointers from seasoned Oscar pros.

Oscar ballots are then mailed to 5,800 members of Hollywood royalty who cast their votes for the best 2008 movie, actor, actress, director and 20 other categories. Paper ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Only two partners know the identity of the winners before the live, televised Oscar ceremony. Envelopes with the winners' names are handed to award presenters immediately before they walk on stage.

"Benjamin Button" leads the pack with 13 nominations, far and away the most recognized film of the year. But it has gone home empty-handed at all the previous award shows. "Slumdog Millionaire" places second, the crowd-pleaser of the year landed 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and three nods for composer A.R. Rahman (who will perform live at the ceremony). Double nods for Brangelina! The golden couple is sure to go home with at least one Oscar between them. "Milk's" resurgence is giving the other two top contenders a run for their money; the stirring biopic scored eight Oscar nods.

Although "Benjamin Button" has received the most nominations, it is the feel good movie "Slumdog Millionaire," with its cast of unknowns that is getting a lot of attention. It is the favorite going into Oscar night, but remember, the Academy has a long history of surprises and "Milk" just might be that surprise film this time.

This year the show will be hosted by Hugh Jackman who was informed of the job in the middle of the night while filming "Australia," the Oscars air on Sunday, February 22 on ABC.

It's all rather, uh, curious, no?



These are the nominations for the top Oscar categories. For a complete list, please visit http://oscar.com/nominees/?pn=nominees.

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin (Milk)
Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (Doubt)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)

Best Director
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Stephen Daldry (The Reader)
David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
Gus Van Sant (Milk)

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Departures (Japan)
Revanche (Austria)
Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

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