'No Country,' 'Blood' lead Oscar noms

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CORRECTED 1:02 p.m. PT Jan. 22, 2008
UPDATED 6:56 a.m. PT Jan. 22, 2008


LOS ANGELES -- Color the carpet leading to the 80th Annual Academy Awards blood red.

"No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood," two violent dramas set in the American West, dominate the nominations announced Tuesday morning. The indie films -- both co-productions between studio specialty film divisions Paramount Vantage and Miramax -- earned eight nominations each.

This year's awards season has played out against a backdrop of labor unrest that could affect the Feb. 24 Oscar ceremony. Although question marks surround the scheduled ABC broadcast -- the fear is a repeat of the Golden Globes nonshow -- Academy president Sid Ganis vowed: "We are working on the show, and the show is going to have all kinds of variations. But now that we know who is nominated, it's full-steam ahead."

Still, judging by its film selections, Hollywood's mood appears dark.

"No Country" and "Blood" are contesting best picture honors with "Atonement," the British drama of betrayal and lost love, and the ominous legal thriller "Michael Clayton." The only ray of sunshine in the pack is the comedy "Juno," about a wise-cracking, pregnant teen. With more than $87 million in its account, it's also the boxoffice leader of the group.

In the view of Daniel Battsek, president of Miramax -- which is handling "No Country's" domestic release, while Par Vantage rolls out "Blood" domestically -- the two front-runners attracted the attention of the 5,829 voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because they are movies of "phenomenal quality, incredible ambition and extraordinary realization." Battsek took over Miramax in 2005, shortly before John Lesher arrived at Paramount, and their two re-energized specialty divisions overshadowed the bigger studios, with Miramax accounting for 21 noms and Par Vantage laying claim to 19.


The noms, announced by Ganis and Kathy Bates, who chairs the actors branch, at Academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, include a double kiss for Cate Blanchett, who earned a best actress nom for her regal bearing in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and a supporting actress mention for her manly portrayal of a Bob Dylanesque figure in "I'm Not There." Her performance as Queen Elizabeth is the role that keeps on giving: Blanchett earned her first Oscar recognition in 1999 when she was nominated as best actress for "Elizabeth."

The other best actress nominees are Golden Globe winners Julie Christie, who plays an Alzheimer's patient in "Away From Her," and Marion Cotillard, who embodies chanteuse Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose"; along with Laura Linney, as a sibling struggling with an ailing dad in "The Savages"; and Ellen Page, as a spunky high school girl in "Juno."

For best actor, the Academy singled out two more of this year's Golden Globe winners: Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays a ruthless oil baron in "Blood," and Johnny Depp, who plays an equally ruthless barber in "Sweeney Todd." The lineup also includes George Clooney, for his legal fixer in "Clayton"; Tommy Lee Jones, who appears as a father searching for his missing son in "In the Valley of Elah"; and Viggo Mortensen, who squares off against the Russian mob in "Eastern Promises."

The directing noms don't quite match up with the best picture contenders.

While "Atonement" earned seven nominations, its helmer Joe Wright didn't win the approval of the directors branch. Instead, they nominated Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Jason Reitman for "Juno," Tony Gilroy for "Clayton," Joel and Ethan Coen for "No Country" and Paul Thomas Anderson for "Blood." With the exception of Joel Coen, who was nominated for 1996's "Fargo," all are first-time nominees in the category.

But even though Wright was shut out, Focus CEO James Schamus said: "Joe is in a celebratory mood. The acknowledgment for the picture is awesome. It's nice to be the underdog for a change, but from our point of view, 'Atonement' is in this to win."

In addition to Blanchett, the nominees for supporting actress range from newcomer Saoirse Ronan, who plays a young girl who makes a fateful accusation in "Atonement," to veteran Ruby Dee, who appears as the family matriarch in "American Gangster." Also nominated are Amy Ryan, as a drug-addled mom in "Gone Baby Gone," and Tilda Swinton, for her scheming corporate attorney in "Clayton."

In the supporting actor race, the competition encompasses Casey Affleck, for his callow outlaw in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"; Javier Bardem, who plays an implacable killer in "No Country"; Hal Holbrook, who appears as a philosophic retiree in "Into the Wild"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, who portrays a rogue CIA agent in "Charlie Wilson's War"; and Tom Wilkinson, who suffers a breakdown in "Clayton."

Writer-directors dominate the two screenwriting categories, taking six of the 10 slots.

In original screenplay, helmers Gilroy ("Clayton"), Brad Bird ("Ratatouille") and Tamara Jenkins ("The Savages") wrote their own screenplays. The other two slots went to the original voices offered up by Diablo Cody ("Juno") and Nancy Oliver ("Lars and the Real Girl").

In adapted screenplay, Sarah Polley ("Away From Her"), the Coen brothers ("No Country") and Anderson ("Blood") penned the films they directed, while scribes Christopher Hampton ("Atonement") and Ronald Harwood ("Diving Bell") round out the list.

In addition to picking up noms for producing, director and writing, the Coens, working under the pseudonym Roderick Janes, also carried off an editing nom. That puts them in the select group -- its only other members are Warren Beatty and composer Alan Mencken -- who have earned four nominations for a single film.



Inevitably, there also were omissions.

Sean Penn's "Into the Wild," the big winner when SAG noms were announced, eked out just two noms. "American Gangster," which appeared to have Academy cred when it was released, also had to settle for two noms. And "Sweeney Todd" carved out just three mentions, with Tim Burton, who has never won an Academy directing nom, retaining his status as odd man out.

In the animation race, "Surf's Up" and the French-language "Persepolis" will compete against Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille," which also earned a nom for original screenplay. With five noms overall, "Ratatouille" has to be considered the prohibitive favorite, but Sony Pictures Classics, which released "Persepolis," has developed something of a mini-specialty in the area of foreign-language animation, having earned a similar nom for "The Triplets of Belleville" in 2004.

"For the Academy to acknowledge in animation a film that's in the old style of animation, that comes from France, that is against these huge, well-crafted studio animated pictures is a real triumph," SPC co-head Michael Barker said.

The Academy's foreign-language category already has been rocked by controversy this year: First, Israel's "The Band's Visit" was deemed ineligible because it contains too much English dialogue. Then, last week, the Romanian Palme d'Or winner in Cannes, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," failed to make the shortlist, triggering another outcry.

The list of films that finally emerged consists of Israel's "Beaufort," Austria's "The Counterfeiters," Poland's "Katyn," Russia's "12" and Kazakhstan's "Mongol." It is the first Academy nomination ever for Kazakhstan, providing some vindication for the country, which had to endure the jibes of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat during last year's awards season.

Michael Moore, an Oscar winner in 2003 for "Bowling for Columbine," returns to the nominees circle in the documentary category with his health care expose "Sicko." It is surrounded by several films investigating various aspects of the wars in the Middle East -- "No End in Sight," "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" and "Taxi to the Dark Side" -- as well as "War/Dance," which looks at a Ugandan refugee camp.

On a much lighter note, Disney's self-referential comedy "Enchanted" danced off with three of the best song nominations. The team of composer Mencken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz scored a triple play for their tunes "Happy Working Song," "So Close" and "That's How You Know."

Whether the Oscars themselves can manage a light-hearted mood if the writers strike isn't resolved by showtime is an open question.

Predicted Ganis: "There are always surprises at the Oscars. It never fails. So what's another surprise?"

A complete list of nominees follows:



Best Picture

"Atonement"
"Juno"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Actor in a Leading Role


George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"

Actress in a Leading Role


Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie En Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

Actor in a Supporting Role

Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"

Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

Directing


Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

Writing (Original Screenplay)


Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)


Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"
Sarah Polley, "Away From Her"
Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

Best Foreign Language Film

"Beaufort"
"The Counterfeiters"
"Katyn"
"Mongol"
"12"

Best Documentary Feature

"No End in Sight"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Sicko"
"Taxi to the Dark Side"
"War Dance"

Best Animated Feature Film


"Persepolis"
"Ratatouille"
"Surf's Up"

Art Direction


"American Gangster"
"Atonement"
"The Golden Compass"
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
"There Will Be Blood"

Cinematography


"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
"Atonement"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Costume Design


"Across the Universe"
"Atonement"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
"La Vie en Rose"
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Best Documentary Short Subject


"Freeheld"
"La Corona (The Crown)"
"Salim Baba"
"Sari's Mother"

Editing


"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Into the Wild"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Makeup


"La Vie en Rose"
"Norbit"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Music (Original Score)


"Atonement"
"The Kite Runner"
"Michael Clayton"
"Ratatouille"
"3:10 to Yuma"

Music (Original Song)


"Falling Slowly" from "Once"
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted"
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush"
"So Close" from "Enchanted"
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted"

Animated Short Film


"I Met the Walrus"
"Madame Tutli-Putli"
"Meme les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go To Heaven)"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
"Peter & the Wolf"

Live Action Short Film

"At Night"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)"
"Tanghi Argentini"
"The Tonto Woman"

Sound Editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"Ratatouille"
"There Will Be Blood"
"Transformers"

Sound Mixing


"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"Ratatouille"
"3:10 to Yuma"
"Transformers"

Visual Effects

"The Golden Compass"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
"Transformers"


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'Country,' 'Blood' lead nominations
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