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The Oscar nominations' surprises and sure things

The Oscar nominations’ surprises and sure things — ”Aviator” racks up 11 nominations, but where’s Paul Giamatti?

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Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby: Merie W. Wallace

The Oscar nominations’ surprises and sure things

What were the biggest surprises and sure things of this year’s Oscar nominations? Here are our top five of each:

SURE THINGS

The Aviator soars No surprise that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s epic was far and away the top nominee with 11 mentions, including nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Alan Alda), and Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett).

A Million Dollar runner-up Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama countered with a killer right hook: seven high-profile nods. If there’s an Aviator spoiler, this is it.

A twofer for Jamie Foxx The year’s breakout star scored in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, joining Al Pacino as the only other man to have two Oscar-nominated performances in the same year. Hoo-ah!

Snubs for Javier Bardem and Liam Neeson We hate to say it, but we saw these snubs coming. With such a tight race in the Best Actor category, there simply wasn’t room for all the deserving candidates, and these two Golden Globe nominees paid the price.

No heat for Fahrenheit Thanks to his ballsy decision not to submit Fahrenheit 9/11 in the Best Documentary race, Michael Moore wound up completely empty-handed, losing out on nods for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay.

SURPRISES

Clint Eastwood over Paul Giamatti Even after racking up eight critics’ awards, Sideways star Giamatti was still edged out of the Best Actor race by Eastwood, who is only the second man in the last 12 years to receive acting and directing nominations for the same movie. (Roberto Benigni did it for 1998’s Life is Beautiful, as did…Clint Eastwood for 1992’s Unforgiven).

Vera Drake‘s strong showing A Best Actress nomination for Imelda Staunton was a done deal. But for Mike Leigh to land in the director and screenplay races was one of the biggest (and most well-deserved) surprises of the morning. Could the Best Actress race be tighter than we thought?

Alan Alda’s first nomination The former M*A*S*H star has earned 24 Emmy nominations in his career, but thanks to his wicked performance in The Aviator, he’s now an Oscar nominee as well. Looks like bad guys sometimes do come out on top!

Sophie who? Credit strong support for Hotel Rwanda with pushing Brit Sophie Okonedo into the top five in the supporting-actress category. Now people might actually discover this incredible actress.

Dark screenplays lose out Though they weren’t considered strong Best Picture candidates, Kinsey and Closer were expected to make the cut in the screenplay categories. But it looks like these sexually frank dramas turned off more voters than they turned on.

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