Oscar Nominations Single Out Heath Ledger, ‘Benjamin Button,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Kate Winslet, 'Doubt,' 'Milk,' 'WALL-E' and other favorites also nominated.

Though[movie id="306605"]“The Dark Knight”[/movie] was snubbed in the Best Picture and Best Director categories, as expected, the late [movieperson id="233661"]Heath Ledger[/movieperson] was named in the Best Supporting Actor race on Thursday morning (January 22), when the nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards were announced. (Find a complete list of Oscar nominations here .)

The Best Picture race looked almost identical to the lineup of this year’s Golden Globes nominees, with nods for [movie id="280659"]“The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button,”[/movie] [movie id="362766"]“The Reader,”[/movie] [movie id="362766"]“Frost/Nixon,”[/movie] [movie id="374161"]“Milk”[/movie] and [movie id="364450"]“Slumdog Millionaire.”[/movie]

All four leads in the religious drama [movie id="345180"]“Doubt”[/movie] were nominated for the awards, which will air on February 22 on ABC. [movieperson id="166088"]Kate Winslet[/movieperson] was not able to repeat her double-dipping in the lead and supporting roles categories at the Globes, earning a Best Actress Oscar nod for her role as a former Nazi in “The Reader,” but not for work as a housewife trapped in a drowning marriage in [movie id="345049"]“Revolutionary Road.”[/movie] Her “Revolutionary Road” co-star and good friend Leonardo DiCaprio was shut out from the Best Actor category.

Nominated alongside Winslet are [movieperson id="257378"]Anne Hathaway[/movieperson] ([movie id="360881"]“Rachel Getting Married”[/movie]), [movieperson id="31834"]Angelina Jolie[/movieperson] ([movie id="5725"]“The Changeling”[/movie]), [movieperson id="36900"]Melissa Leo[/movieperson] ([movie id="375647"]“Frozen River”[/movie]) and [movieperson id="60497"]Meryl Streep[/movieperson] (“Doubt”).

Ledger, who won in the supporting actor category at the Golden Globes, faces another formidable slate of actors, including [movieperson id="7725"]Josh Brolin[/movieperson] (“Milk”), [movieperson id="17609"]Robert Downey, Jr.[/movieperson] ([movie id="339067"]“Tropic Thunder”[/movie]), [movieperson id="28930"]Philip Seymour Hoffman[/movieperson] (“Doubt”).

The Best Director category will find “Button” director David Fincher going up against such fellow veterans as Ron Howard (“Frost/Nixon”), Gus Van Sant (“Milk”), Stephen Daldry (“The Reader”) and Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”).

In addition to the DiCaprio snub, the Best Actor group featured at least one surprise: the inclusion of longtime character actor Richard Jenkins for his role in “The Visitor.” He will compete against Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Sean Penn (“Milk”), Brad Pitt (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and resurgent Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke , for his bruising take on the life of a washed-up grappler in “The Wrestler.”

Rourke’s co-star in that film, Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei, was also honored, earning a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role as a stripper. The category also includes Amy Adams (“Doubt”), Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”).

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are “Bolt,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Wall-E.” Miley Cyrus’ Globe-nominated “Bolt” track, “I Thought I Lost You,” didn’t receive a nomination for Best Original Song. Instead, “Down To Earth” from “Wall-E” (Peter Gabriel), “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” ([url id="http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/12/29/dont-sleep-on-slumdog-millionaire-composer-mia-collaborator-ar-rahman/"]A.R. Rahman[/url]) and “O Saya” from “Millionaire” (Rahman and M.I.A.) will be up for the award.

Though it washed out in the directing and best picture nominations, “Knight” racked up seven nominations in addition to Ledger’s: Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

The nominees for Adapted Screenplay are “Button,” “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Reader” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” The Original Screenplay category pits “Frozen River” against “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “In Bruges,” “Milk” and “Wall-E.”

While some of the year’s biggest and best-loved flicks didn’t make it into the major categories, they managed to slip into some of the technical ones. “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” got an Achievement in Makeup bid, for instance, and “Iron Man” was nominated for Sound Editing and Visual Effects.

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