Actress Kathy Bates and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Sid Ganis announce the nominees for best actor Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. Copyrighted Associated Press photo by Chris Pizzello.
Two-fifths of the field for this year's Oscar for best actor hail from Kentucky. Of course, George Clooney and Johnny Depp will probably have to clap for Daniel Day-Lewis when he takes the prize for There Will Be Blood, but you know, honor to be nominated and all that.
This is the second Oscar acting nomination for Clooney, who won best supporting actor his first time at the party in 2006 for Syriana. The same year, he was also nominated for writing and directing Goodnight and Good Luck. For Depp, it's the third nomination, and he has yet to win.
The fortunes of Depp and Clooney's movies diverged.
Michael Clayton, a hard-boiled drama in which Clooney played a "bag man" for a high-powered New York law firm, also scored nominations for best picture, and best director and best original screenplay for Tony Gilroy. That's nice redemption for Gilroy, a first time director who had to campaign get Clooney to agree to be in his film. Clayton also scored nominations for Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton in the supporting acting categories and James Newton Howard for the film's score. At seven nominations, Clayton got the second most nominations along with Atonement.
There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men received the most nominations with eight each.
Sweeney Todd, for which Depp won the Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture-musical or comedy, fared much worse than people were guessing when it came out in December. Thought to be a contender for best picture, it failed to score in that category or best director for Tim Burton. That's a bit of a surprise considering Todd won the Golden Globe Award for best picture-musical or comedy, and Burton was a nominee for best director. You have to wonder what's happening to musicals in Oscar's eyes after both Todd and Hairspray, well-reviewed musicals this year, were shut out of best picture, and Dreamgirls failed to make the field last year. After Chicago virtually revived the genre and won best picture, conventional wisdom seemed to be that if you put up a good musical, trophies would come your way. But now, getting nominated seems to be tough.
Joining Depp, Clooney and Day-Lewis in the best actor race are Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah and Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises. Day-Lewis has to be considered a formidable front runner for his performance as a ruthless silver miner turned oil man in Blood. It helped that he won the Golden Globe Award for best actor in a motion picture-drama. It would be his second best actor Oscar, as he won in 1994 for In the Name of the Father.
Best picture seems wide open though, with Atonement the Golden Globe winner for drama, facing off against critics' darling No Country for Old Men, everyones' darling Juno, and Blood, which seems to have momentum as it's moving across the country. Clayton seems like the only sure thing to not win.
Of course, the big question, with the writers' strike, is whether there will be a ceremony Feb. 24.