I said there would be at least one upset, and there was…and then some – thanks, Oscar.
Nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning, and The Visitor’s Richard Jenkins and Frozen River’s Melissa Leo (both pictured at right) each received their first (surprise) well-earned nods for Best Actor and Best Actress from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Jenkins’ strong competition includes Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), while Leo will face off against first-time nominee Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), and Meryl Streep (Doubt).
Kate Winslet did not earn double nominations as expected, sneaking into the Best Actress category for her work in The Reader and not Revolutionary Road.
Other surprises included the calling of Revolutionary Road’s Michael Shannon for Best Supporting Actor, and The Dark Knight’s snubs in both the Best Picture and Best Director races.
For a complete list of nominees, click here.
The Oscars are scheduled for a month from today.
Update 1: Kate Winslet would like us to know she’s “extremely happy to have been nominated. And very fortunate. Playing Hanna Schmitz [in The Reader] will always remain one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever been blessed with.
“I’m genuinely thrilled not just for myself but for the wonderful [director] Stephen Daldry and [screenwriter] David Hare. These nominations are a testament to their unwavering commitment to this film.
“And I’m also very happy for all the people in Germany whose hard work on The Reader, has been rewarded by these nominations. Surely [the late producers] Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack are smiling down on us today!”
Update 2: Of her nomination, Angelina Jolie said, “Working with Clint Eastwood [on Changeling] was a reward in itself that will last me a lifetime. It has been an exceptional year for acting, and I am honored to be in the company of these talented actors whose performances all deserve this recognition.”
And of Best Animated Film Kung Fu Panda, for which she voiced a character, she added, “I am also happy that Kung Fu Panda was noticed by the Academy and proud to be a part of a film my entire family loves so much.”
Meanwhile, Jolie’s partner, Brad Pitt was “especially happy for [best director nominee] David Fincher, for without him there would be no Ben Button.”
Update 3: For her part, Anne Hathaway says, of her nomination for Rachel Getting Married, “It is such a thrill to be recognized in this category with these remarkably talented women. I was with my parents and my dog when I got the news and we were all overjoyed – although I’m not sure my dog knew what was going on. This is a great day to be an actress!”
Update 4: Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, the producers of Milk, also have expressed their joy over the nominations their film received.
“Today’s eight nominations are a huge tribute to everyone involved in the making of Milk. The goal of all of us was to bring Harvey Milk’s wonderfully inspiring story to audiences everywhere. The nominations will go a long way towards making that happen.”
The film’s director, Gus Van Sant, also released a statement to thank the Academy for his and the film’s nominations.
“I am so thankful, so humbled, by the Academy for the nominations they have given our film – I’m so proud of our screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Sean Penn, and Josh Brolin, and our incredible team, Danny Glicker, Danny Elfman, Elliot Graham, and our amazing producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. These nominations ensure that Harvey Milk’s legacy will live on.”
Added Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, “I won’t lie, I was up at 4:30 a.m. PT. I couldn’t sleep. I took a shower, I started washing dishes, I did a load of laundry…. I was completely losing my mind waiting for that local ABC telecast.
“My heart jumped when Josh Brolin got nominated, but the tears started flowing when Gus got his. I couldn’t have asked for a better director for this project, a fiercer protector of this little spec script that meant so much to me. And that script would have been nothing without the dedicated talent of nominee Sean Penn, who truly inhabited Harvey’s soul, and Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Joseph Cross, and on and on. This film was a real team effort.
By the time the nominations got to Best Picture, I was a wreck. Tears – lots of tears. I couldn’t breathe. My big hope had been that the Academy would recognize our film enough that Harvey’s story could get a wider release, but I could never have predicted eight nominations including Best Picture. I’m still pinching myself.”