They're humbled, then they hug

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Just back from the inauguration, "Rachel Getting Married" star Anne Hathaway stayed overnight at her parents' home to await word whether she'd receive a best actress Oscar nomination Thursday. "I figured I'd be crying either way," she said. "But it was tears of joy." Hathaway said she was humbled by receiving a nom for such an ensemble drama because the actress is known for lighter comedies like "The Princess Diaries." She remembered being surprised when her manager told her about halfway through the shoot that there was Oscar buzz surrounding her performance. "It was weird," Hathaway said.

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Producer Eric Fellner took note of the timing of the best picture nom for "Frost/Nixon." "It's interesting in the week when the antithesis of Richard Nixon gets sworn into office that a film like this gets honored," he said. "It's interesting to remember how the office of the president can be in one generation lowered to be virtually valueless and in another, like now, be elevated to that of potential savior." Fellner added that he speaks regularly with David Frost, who he said is "over the moon, thrilled" with the film.

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Nominated for his supporting role in "Milk," Josh Brolin — who also played President Bush in 2008's "W." — said he was pleased to be recognized for his work on the "important" film. " 'W.' was probably the most difficult job in film that I've ever done because you carry him from a young age through his presidency," he said. " 'Milk' was different. When I read it, I was so emotional and taken with the story that I just wanted to do it." Brolin acknowledged that Oscar noms can help an actor attract offers for future meaty roles. "We're getting offered really, really interesting roles," he said.

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"Hollywood recognizing Bollywood is a first," "Slumdog Millionaire" producer Christian Colson said from Mumbai, where his movie was having its Indian rollout, as crowds cheered in the background. Colson was standing in the wings of an NBC "Today" broadcast with "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle and stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto on camera, and as the news came in, he signaled updates to them. The noms are a long way from where Colson and the filmmakers started, going back to attempting to make a movie that contained little English to the time when Warner Bros. thought of releasing it straight to video. "When you are making films, you just get on," Colson said. "And this outcome — it's not why you're doing it, but it's something that is utterly unpredictable and thrilling."

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Melissa Leo was stoked about her lead actress nom for "Frozen River." "I'm just over the moon," she said. "I had mentioned to a friend or two last night that perhaps this morning that my life might have changed, and it has." Leo, known in the business as a working actor, said the name "Frozen River" gives a pretty good indication of how cold it was shooting the movie, which mostly takes place outside and inside a car. She prepared by working out in a sauna and gym and then dressed appropriately, including changing socks in the middle of the day. "I was not going to get sick and turn in a bad day's work," Leo said. "We didn't have time for that."

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Ron Howard was stuck on New York's West Side Highway, toggling between 880 AM for traffic news and 1010 WINS, which was carrying the noms live. "It was a throwback, listening to it live on the radio," Howard said. He's hoping the kudos give a major boost to "Frost/Nixon," which opens wide today and is one of the director's noncommercial efforts. "If you tell people it's based on a bunch of interviews, they wonder where the entertainment charge is going to be in that," he said. Despite the movie's five noms, Howard has one regret: that co-star Michael Sheen wasn't recognized. "But I am so happy for Frank (Langella), who executed such a high-wire act in taking on Nixon," Howard said.

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The night before the noms, Andrew Stanton arranged for room service at his Los Angeles hotel to wake him up before the telecast, so he was up watching when he heard his name and movie mentioned. He then opened his laptop and "e-mailed everyone I knew," he said. While "WALL-E" tied with "Beauty and the Beast" for the most noms ever for an animated film (six), the category that held special meaning was the screenwriting one, which Stanton shares with Pete Docter and Jim Reardon. "That's the profession I've spent most of my life doing, more than directing, and something I work on constantly," he said. Stanton was afraid that because there is no dialogue in the first part of the movie, people would think "the script just fell into place," he said.

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Richard Jenkins, nominated for best actor for "The Visitor," was sitting at his home in Rhode Island, surfing the Web and drinking coffee, when the noms were announced. "I didn't want to watch because I knew I wasn't going to see my name," he said. Jenkins found out when his son-in-law's father called him. "I'm surprised; I'm shocked," the actor said. "And I'm not just being humble about it. It's a movie that came out in April, really early. And there were so many other great films this year." Jenkins said he doesn't think the nomination will make him more optimistic about this or future awards prospects. "You learn as you go in this profession not to have expectations," he said. "They'll bite you every time."

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Producer Donna Gigliotti was taken aback by the best picture nom for "The Reader." "I was expecting nothing," she said. Gigliotti has a statuette for 1998's "Shakespeare in Love." "I have the Oscar on an end table in my living room," she said. "For 10 years, my housekeeper comes in and dusts it and says, 'Oscar looks lonely; he needs a friend.' "

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Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, co-directors of "Kung Fu Panda," sounded excited. Osborne said he was thrilled for the animated feature nom, which he called "an amazing validation for the entire crew." Previously nominated in 1998 for his stop-motion work on the animated short "More," Osborne hopes to go back to stop-motion with a dream project he is trying to get off the ground after writing a script with a friend. "I thought, it's time to do something crazy — get back to stop-motion," he said.

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Viola Davis, nominated for her brief supporting performance in "Doubt," did a lot of yelling Thursday morning. "I screamed in my husband's ear," Davis said. She lauded the ensemble effort that brought "Doubt" to life. "You are only as good as your partners," she said. And she has no time or reason for feeling competitive with fellow "Doubt" star Amy Adams, who also earned a nom. "I love her too much and respect her too much," Davis said. "She is so wonderfully nuanced, and I am just happy we both got nominated." What's next? "If you know anybody who can get me a job … ," she quipped.

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Talking from London, screenplay nominee Mike Leigh admitted some disappointment about "Happy-Go-Lucky" not having earned an acting nomination for Sally Hawkins. "That's what we really thought, what I thought would happen — if anything was going to," he said. Asked why the film was snubbed by the BAFTAs but showed up on the Oscar shortlist, Leigh suggested, "I think it's that the Americans don't genuflect obsequiously to Hollywood in the same way the Brits do."

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"Milk" producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen had different ways of preparing for the noms. Jinks "woke up wide awake at 4 a.m. and showered and shaved." Cohen? "Dan is away ahead of me," he said. "I woke up three minutes before (the announcement)." The pair drew their second best picture nom, after 1999's "American Beauty" took the Oscar. But Jinks noted that "Milk" has particular resonance. "All these issues have come to the fore this season: the passage of Proposition 8, the election of Obama," he said.

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James Newton Howard, who fielded an eighth nom for his "Defiance" score, determinedly had stayed up until 2:30 a.m. the night before to avoid staring at the clock. "Once you look at the clock, you're doomed," he said. "It's the only time you're happy to hear from your agent at 5:30 a.m. It's become a great tradition over these years." Yes, a tradition of watching the award go to someone else seven times in a row, a delayed gratification that Howard says he shares with other composers. (It took Elmer Bernstein nine noms and Randy Newman 16 to win an Oscar.) "I approach these things as just going to an amazing party with the woman I love and having a great night out," he said. "And one of these days I'll go to the party carrying a statue."

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Nominees don't usually like to compare their current honor to previous ones, but "The Reader" scribe David Hare, who was nominated for 2002's "The Hours," couldn't help himself. "I have to say, this one is much more satisfying. … The nominations feel like vindication for trying to do something ambitious in Hollywood," he said. Hare was in a bookstore near his home in London when his son called him with the news. "He said, 'Well, you're going to America again.' And my reaction was, 'Now why would I be doing that?' "

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Supporting actress nominee Taraji P. Henson's 14-year-old son pushed her out of the house the night before, saying, "You need to go because you're going to drive me crazy." So after a friend took her out for dinner, dancing and a few glasses of Pinot noir, Henson crashed at about 2 a.m. Manager Vince Cirrincione, who has made the same calls for client Halle Berry, woke her at 5:30. "I'm on adrenaline right now," Henson said. Like others who worked on "The Curious Case of Benjamain Button," the supporting actress nominee felt a personal connection to its themes of love, lost moments and mortality. "I lost my dad about a year before filming," Henson said. "And I really didn't have any resolution or closure."

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Although "Waltz With Bashir" was nominated in the foreign-language category, it missed the cut on animated feature. But director Ari Folman said he was not disappointed. "I think that the animation nominee is about big studios and big money, and we're not in that game," he said. "We had a budget that was exactly 1% of 'WALL-E.' "

Compiled by Carl DiOrio, Jay A. Fernandez, Gregg Kilday, Borys Kit, Steven Zeitchik and Billboard's Ann Donahue in Los Angeles and Paul J. Gough and Georg Szalai in New York.
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