OFFICIAL NOMINATIONS FOR THE 81st ACADEMY AWARDS

Well, the nominations are in and they are a sad and sorry bunch. Well, it's not all bad, but this year, most of the surprises (and there are quite a few) are of the disappointing variety. No Dark Knight for Best Picture, no Darren Aronofsky for Best Director (for The Wrestler), and no Clint Eastwood for Best Actor (for Gran Torino). In fact, nothing at all for Gran Torino. Nada. Zip. But there was apparently room for The Reader in the Best Picture category. The idea that Ron Howard (for Frost/Nixon) and Stephen Daldry (for The Reader) are up for the Directing award, while the supremely talented Darren Aronofsky sits on the sidelines with nothing just seems like a joke to me. But this is the Oscars. Disappointment is the name of the game.

I would like to mention that the inclusion of Frozen River in the Actress and Original Screenplay categories is really wonderful. I'm very happy that Melissa Leo and Courtney Hunt have been recognized for their great work. So, while those nods are certainly not a shock, I guess they do fit the requirements of a pleasant surprise. So that's something to be happy about, something to make this rotten concoction go down a little easier. Here are the nominations, in all their frustrating glory:

PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

DIRECTOR

David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader

ACTOR

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon (Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter), Wall-E

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
David Hare, The Reader
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

ANIMATED FEATURE

Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E

ANIMATED SHORT

La Maison en Petits Cubes
Lavatory - Lovestory
Oktapodi
Presto
This Way Up

LIVE ACTION SHORT

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306

ART DIRECTION

Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

COSTUME DESIGN

Australia
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Milk
Revolutionary Road

EDITING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Departures (Japan)
Revanche (Austria)
Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

SOUND MIXING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
Wall-E
Wanted

SOUND EDITING

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
Wall-E
Wanted

ORIGINAL SONG

"Down to Earth," from Wall-E
"Jai Ho," from Slumdog Millionaire
"O Saya," from Slumdog Millionaire

ORIGINAL SCORE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Defiance
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire
Wall-E

MAKEUP

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

VISUAL EFFECTS

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man