H'wood nods celebrate '08 breakthroughs

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Although there are three-plus months left in 2008, the folks behind the Hollywood Awards have clairvoyantly identified Sally Hawkins and James Franco as the breakthrough actors of the year.

The pair will be feted Oct. 27 at the 12th Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Awards Gala, the annual gathering of Oscar hopefuls, at the Beverly Hilton.

Other honorees, announced Tuesday, include screenwriter-turned-director John Patrick Shanley, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the Disney-Pixar movie "WALL-E" and "Iron Man," singled out for its visual effects.

Franco was onscreen this year in "Pineapple Express" and will appear in the upcoming films "Nights in Rodanthe" and "Milk."

Hawkins stars in Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," which opens domestically Oct. 10.

Shanley, adapted and directed the screen version of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play "Doubt," opening in December, was chosen Breakthrough Director of the Year.

Black, named Breakthrough Screenwriter of the Year, wrote Gus Van Sant's "Milk," which opens Nov. 26.

"WALL-E" and its writer-producer Andrew Stanton are set to receive the Animation of the Year Award.

"Iron Man" and its visual effects supervisors John Nelson and Ben Snow will receive the Visual Effects of the Year Award.
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