Honorees react to Oscar nominations. Jamie Foxx, Hilary Swank, and Natalie Portman share credit with coworkers, while ''Sideways'' actors grumble about Paul Giamatti's snub

By Gary Susman
Updated January 26, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Jamie Foxx: Tammie Arroyo/AP

Judging by their reactions to being nominated for Academy Awards on Tuesday, a lot of the honorees are already practicing their acceptance speeches, since many of them responded to their good fortune by thanking their coworkers. Regarding his Collateral nomination, Jamie Foxx told USA Today, ”I gotta thank [director] Michael Mann for letting me get down. And I gotta thank the most well-adjusted millionaire in the world in Mr. Tom Cruise.” For his Ray nomination, he also thanked his director, who was ignored at the Golden Globes last week. ”You gotta be happy for Taylor Hackford, who really for a minute was a little down in the dumps.”

Million Dollar Baby, up for seven prizes, was also a mutual admiration society. Best Actress nominee Hilary Swank said in a statement, ”It’s an honor to have been a part of this film, and to have worked side by side with Clint [Eastwood], Morgan [Freeman], and all of Clint’s wonderful collaborators. It is an experience that I will forever cherish. I’m beside myself.” Supporting Actor nominee Freeman issued a similar statement, saying, ”It is an honor to be recognized by the Academy for the work that I was privileged to do in this jewel of a film. The fact that the venerable Mr. Eastwood and the magnificent Ms. Swank have also been nominated makes me so happy that I could just burst.”

Similarly, Closer‘s Natalie Portman cited costars Jude Law, Clive Owen, and Julia Roberts in her statement, saying, ”It’s an honor to have my name listed in the same category with actresses I so admire. Without the incredible work of Jude, Clive, and Julia, the words of Patrick Marber and most importantly the strong and loving guidance of Mike Nichols I would not be blessed with this honor.”

Not everyone was entirely overjoyed. Sideways nominees Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen were miffed at the surprise snub of their costar, Paul Giamatti, though both noted that the Best Actor race was especially tight this year. ”My performance and I’m sure Virginia’s do not exist without Paul’s. One performance does not exist without the other,” Church said of Giamatti’s omission. ”I was very disheartened by that. It’s just that all of those other performances are extraordinary as well. I just think a lot of pundits have been saying for months that the actor category is pretty stiff. Javier Bardem, Liam Neeson, there are some great performances that were, not overlooked, but didn’t fit in.” Said Madsen: ”I don’t think Paul was overlooked. I just think when they started counting up the ballots, maybe he missed by two votes. It was a really, really tough category, extremely tough competition, and I think he just might have gotten slightly nudged. And he’s just an exceptional actor. He’s one of best actors, and everybody knows it.”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind nominee Kate Winslet was more sanguine for her snubbed costar, Jim Carrey, who’s been slighted by the Academy before. She told USA Today: ”He’s a big boy. He’ll be OK.”

The nominations thrust worldwide recognition on some previously little-known actors. British actress Sophie Okonedo, nominated for Hotel Rwanda, told reporters, ”At one stage in my career I didn?t even think I?d ever make a film, so to be nominated for an Oscar is overwhelming. I?m in a state of shock. I?ve spent 15 years plugging away and the last year has just been amazing.” Catalina Sandino Moreno, nominated for Best Actress for her debut role in Maria Full of Grace, was awaiting the news at home in New York, where she received so many calls from well-wishers back in her homeland of Colombia that ”the phone broke! I don’t know what happened!” Watching the news on TV with her boyfriend while talking to her mother in Colombia on her still-operative cell phone, she told USA Today, ”We couldn’t believe it was real. Screaming and crying.”

Some nominees were truly surprised to be recognized. Vera Drake writer-director Mike Leigh anticipated a nomination for his leading lady, Imelda Staunton, but not the directing and screenwriting nods that came his way as well. When he saw the news on TV in London, he told the Hollywood Reporter, his lunch fell out of his mouth. ”There was no evidence that I was going to be acknowledged from anywhere,” he said, ”so I was caught with a piece of Chinese takeaway in my mouth.” For her part, Staunton measured her delight by saying, ”On a scale of one to a million, it’s nearer the latter.” Asked if the Oscar nomination for Best Actress would change her life, the petite 49-year-old said, ”Oh yes, I won’t be doing any cooking. I’m going to get servants and slaves, and I’m going to get very tall. That’s my ambition.”