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Oscar noms announced as strike shadow hovers

"Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" were nominated this morning for the Academy Award for best picture of 2007.

The gripping oil epic "There Will Be Blood" and the gritty contemporary Western, "No Country for Old Men" scored eight nominations apiece for the 80th annual Academy Awards. "Michael Clayton" and "Atonement" followed with seven nominations each.

George Clooney earned his first best actor nomination for "Michael Clayton," a legal thriller in which he plays a "fixer" for a high-powered New York law firm. Tom Wilkinson was nominated for supporting actor for his performance as a mentally troubled attorney in the film, while Tilda Swinton earned a best supporting actress nomination as an ambitious litigator. The film's writer-director, Tony Gilroy, was nominated in both categories; "Michael Clayton" marks his feature film directorial debut.

It was a big day for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen and their "No Country for Old Men." The eight nominations for their film included four for the sibling filmmakers -- best film, best director, best adapted screenplay and best editing. (The Coens, who also produced the film, edit under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.)

Javier Bardem also earned a nomination for his electrifying turn as a coldblooded assassin in the film. The film is nominated as well in the cinematography, sound mixing and sound editing categories.

The dual directing nomination for the Coens marks the first time a sibling team has been nominated in the category.

"Atonement," which won the Golden Globe for best dramatic film last week, and is nominated for 14 British Academy of Film and Television awards -- the U.K. equivalent of the Oscars -- was shut out for best director, actor and actress. But 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan earned a best supporting actress nomination as a calculating young girl while Christopher Hampton was nominated for adapted screenplay.

"There Will Be Blood" also earned nominations for Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, as well as best director and adapted screenplay for Paul Thomas Anderson.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the strong showing for "Juno," the coming-of-age comedy about a pregnant teen. In addition to best picture, the box-office hit earned best actress nominations for this award season's darling, 20-year-old Ellen Page, and it earned nods for best original screenplay for onetime stripper Diablo Cody and best director for Jason Reitman.

Notably missing from the list of directors was Sean Penn for his drama "Into the Wild." That film recently earned nods for Penn from the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.

The only acting nod for "Into the Wild," which is dominating the Screen Actors Guild award nominations, was for 82-year-old veteran Hal Holbrook, for best supporting actor for his performance as a lonely widower.

Joining Clooney and Day-Lewis in the best actor category are Johnny Depp as the vengeful barber in "Sweeney Todd," Tommy Lee Jones as a grieving father in "In the Valley of Elah" and Viggo Mortensen as a mysterious Russian mobster in "Eastern Promises."

Vying for best actress with Page are Cate Blanchett for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," Julie Christie as a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease in "Away From Her," Marion Cotillard as singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose" and Laura Linney as a middle-aged woman coping with an aging father in "The Savages."

Blanchett is one of only a handful of performers who have been nominated twice for Oscars for playing the same character. Nine years ago, Blanchett received her first best actress nomination for portraying the British monarch in "Elizabeth." Blanchett also earned a supporting actress nomination this year for playing a male singer in the quirky Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There."

Notably missing from the list of nominees was Angelina Jolie for "A Mighty Heart."

Also nominated for best director was Julian Schnabel for the poignant "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Schnabel received the Golden Globe for best director for the film about a highflying magazine editor who suffers a devastating stroke.

Rounding out the nominees in the best supporting actor category are Casey Affleck as a young man who pines to be an outlaw in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a crusty CIA agent in "Charlie Wilson's War."

Completing the list of best supporting actress nominees are 83-year-old Ruby Dee as the mother of a Harlem kingpin in "American Gangster" and Amy Ryan as the drug-dealing mother of a kidnapped daughter in "Gone Baby Gone."

Women did especially well in the writing categories this year. In addition to Cody and her "Juno," Sarah Polley earned her first nomination for adapted screenplay for "Away From Her," Nancy Oliver garnered an original screenplay nomination for the offbeat "Lars and the Real Girl," and Tamara Jenkins also received her first nomination for her dark relationship drama "The Savages."

Also earning an adapted screenplay nomination was Ronald Harwood for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," and rounding out the original screenplay nominees was "Ratatouille," penned by Brad Bird with story by Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco.

"Ratatouille" was also nominated for best animated feature of the year along with France's "Persepolis," about a rebellious Iranian girl, and the penguin comedy "Surf's Up."

Foreign language film nominees are Israel's "Beaufort," Austria's "The Counterfeiters," Poland's "Katyn," Kazakhstan's "Mongol" and Russia's "12."

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

However, the shadow of the Writers Guild of America strike looms over the star-studded Oscar ceremony scheduled for Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The event, scheduled to be telecast live on ABC, is one of the biggest evenings for television. And as of last week, the show's producer, director Gil Cates, insisted the ceremony will go on.

However, the academy has yet to receive a waiver from the WGA to allow union writers to script the show. The strike crippled the Golden Globes ceremony on Jan. 13 because the Screen Actors Guild refused to cross the WGA picket line -- stripping the event of its glitz and glamour. So viewers were left with a news conference fronted by celebrity journalists from entertainment news shows.

If the WGA decides to picket the Oscars, it's anybody's guess what will happen Feb. 24.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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