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A scene from the movie "Dreamgirls." (AP Photo)
'Dreamgirls' Picks Up Most Oscar Nods
Posted: January 23, 2007
BEVERLY HILLS (AP) -- The musical "Dreamgirls" led Academy Awards contenders Tuesday with eight nominations, but surprisingly was shut out in the best picture category after being considered a potential front-runner.

The sweeping ensemble drama "Babel" was close behind with seven, including best picture and acting honors for two newcomers to U.S. audiences, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi.

Other best-picture nominees were Martin Scorsese's bloody crime saga "The Departed," Clint Eastwood's World War II spectacle "Letters From Iwo Jima," the road-trip comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" and the monarchy-in-crisis chronicle "The Queen."

Going into nominations day, the best-picture competition looked unusually wide open, with no consensus on a favorite. With "Dreamgirls," a Golden Globe winner out of the race, the best picture competition is even more up for grabs.

But front-runners in all four acting categories nabbed nominations and seem poised to come home with Oscars on Feb. 25: Helen Mirren for best actress as British monarch Elizabeth II in "The Queen"; Forest Whitaker for best actor as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland"; and Eddie Murphy and former "American Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson as soulful singers in "Dreamgirls."

All four preceded the Oscar nominations with wins at the Golden Globes.

Oscar attention is a new experience for Murphy, whose fast-talking persona has brought him devoted audiences but little awards acclaim in his 25-year career. For Hudson, the nomination caps a speedy rise to stardom with her first film role, just two years after making her name on "American Idol."

The best-actress category featured a 14th nomination for two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep, padding her record as the most-nominated actor ever, this time as a demonically demanding boss in "The Devil Wears Prada."

Joining Mirren and Streep as best-actress nominees were Penelope Cruz as a woman dealing with bizarre domestic crises in "Volver"; Judi Dench as a scheming teacher in "Notes on a Scandal"; and Kate Winslet as a woman in an affair with a neighbor in "Little Children."

Other best-actor nominees were Leonardo DiCaprio as a mercenary hunting a rare gem in "Blood Diamond"; Ryan Gosling as a teacher with a drug addiction in "Half Nelson"; Peter O'Toole as a lecherous old actor in "Venus"; and Will Smith as a homeless dad in "The Pursuit of Happyness."

Whitaker is expected to come away with best actor, though sentiment is high for O'Toole, who has been nominated seven times, losing each. An eighth loss for O'Toole, who nearly turned down an honorary Oscar three years ago because he hoped to earn one outright, would put him in the record books as the actor with the most nominations without winning.

This finally may be the year for another perennial loser, Scorsese, who's tied with four other directors for the Oscar-futility record of five nominations and five losses.

"The Departed" marks Scorsese's return to the cops-and-mobsters genre he mastered in decades past and is considered his best shot to finally win an Oscar, though a sixth defeat would put him alone in the record book as the losingest director ever.

Prim Oscar voters maintained their track record of ignoring over-the-top comic performances, snubbing Sacha Baron Cohen for his Golden Globe-winning role in the raucous "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

The comedy front did bring supporting nominations for Alan Arkin as foul-mouthed grandfather and Abigail Breslin as a girl obsessed with beauty pageants in "Little Miss Sunshine," though the film's three key performers, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Steve Carell, were overlooked.

Ten-year-old Abigail Breslin became the fourth-youngest actress ever nominated.

The supporting actor category also includes Mark Wahlberg as a caustic cop in "The Departed," his scene-stealing performance outshining his higher-billed co-stars including DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon.

With five blacks, two Hispanics and an Asian, it was the most ethnically diverse lineup ever among the 20 acting nominees. After decades in which the Oscars were a virtual whites-only club, with minority actors only occasionally breaking into the field, the awards have featured a much broader mix of nominees in the last few years.

Black actors in particular have come into their own, with Oscar wins by Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, and three of the four acting front-runners this year.

Asians and Hispanics still lag behind, though nominations for Cruz, Barraza and Kikuchi are signs that Hollywood is making strides toward greater diversity.

While Cruz's "Volver," from Spanish director and past Oscar darling Pedro Almodovar, was shut out for foreign-language picture, another Hispanic film scored well. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" had six nominations, including foreign-language film, screenplay, cinematography and score.

"If each one of them got nominated on their own, that would be great, but the fact that they all did ... that's just too much for one little girl this early in the morning," said Salma Hayek, an Oscar nominee for 2002's "Frida," who helped announced the nominees Tuesday morning.

Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu earned a best-director nomination for "Babel."

Inarritu and Scorsese were joined in the best-director category by Eastwood for "Letters from Iwo Jima," Stephen Frears for "The Queen," and Paul Greengrass for the Sept. 11 docudrama "United 93."

"Dreamgirls" looks as though it might follow 2002's "Chicago" as a rare musical to win best-picture, but like last year's music-themed "Walk the Line" it was a startling omission from the Oscar's top category.

While Murphy and Hudson made it into the supporting categories, lead players Foxx and Beyonce Knowles and director Bill Condon were left out.

Three of "Dreamgirls" eight nominations came in a single category -- for original song.

The year's top-grossing movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," grabbed four nominations in technical categories, including visual effects.

Two-time best-picture and director winner Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" had been considered a longshot and clearly was the film that denied its chance at the top trophy.

Eastwood continued his late-career surge and Oscar magic with the four nominations for the Japanese-language "Letters" including original screenplay. His World War II companion film "Flags of Our Fathers" also had two technical nominations, including sound editing in which it will compete against "Letters."

Also in the sound editing category is Mel Gibson's violent tale of the ancient Mayan civilization "Apocalypto," which had three nominations.

The Hindi-language movie "Water" is up for best foreign film and comes after a slew of accolades for the Toronto-based director and screenwriter, Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta.




Complete list of the 79th Annual Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif.:

1. Best Picture: "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen."

2. Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"; Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"; Peter O'Toole, "Venus"; Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"; Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland."

3. Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"; Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"; Helen Mirren, "The Queen"; Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Kate Winslet, "Little Children."

4. Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"; Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"; Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed."

5. Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza, "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"; Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel."

6. Directing: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"; Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"; Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Stephen Frears, "The Queen"; Paul Greengrass, "United 93."

7. Foreign Language Film: "After the Wedding," Denmark; "Days of Glory (Indigenes)," Algeria; "The Lives of Others," Germany; "Pan's Labyrinth," Mexico; "Water," Canada.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines and Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, "Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"; Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, "Children of Men"; William Monahan, "The Departed"; Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"; Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal."

9. Original Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"; Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Guillermo del Toro, "Pan's Labyrinth"; Peter Morgan, "The Queen."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Cars," "Happy Feet," "Monster House."

11. Art Direction: "Dreamgirls," "The Good Shepherd," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "The Prestige."

12. Cinematography: "The Black Dahlia," "Children of Men," "The Illusionist," "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Prestige."

13. Sound Mixing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Dreamgirls," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

14. Sound Editing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

15. Original Score: "Babel," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Good German," Thomas Newman; "Notes on a Scandal," Philip Glass; "Pan's Labyrinth," Javier Navarrete; "The Queen," Alexandre Desplat.

16. Original Song: "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth," Melissa Etheridge; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven; "Love You I Do" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett; "Our Town" from "Cars," Randy Newman; "Patience" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.

17. Costume: "Curse of the Golden Flower," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Marie Antoinette," "The Queen."

18. Documentary Feature: "Deliver Us From Evil," "An Inconvenient Truth," "Iraq in Fragments," "Jesus Camp," "My Country, My Country."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Blood of Yingzhou District," "Recycled Life," "Rehearsing a Dream," "Two Hands."

20. Film Editing: "Babel," "Blood Diamond," "Children of Men," "The Departed," "United 93."

21. Makeup: "Apocalypto," "Click," "Pan's Labyrinth."

22. Animated Short Film: "The Danish Poet," "Lifted," "The Little Matchgirl," "Maestro," "No Time for Nuts."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)," "Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)," "Helmer & Son," "The Saviour," "West Bank Story."

24. Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Poseidon," "Superman Returns."

Academy Award winners previously announced this year:

HONORARY AWARD (Oscar statuette): Ennio Morricone

JEAN HERSHOLT HUMANITARIAN AWARD (Oscar statuette): Sherry Lansing

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