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'No Country,' 'Blood' lead Oscar nominations

  • Story Highlights
  • "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood" earn eight nods each
  • "Michael Clayton" picks up nominations in five of six major categories
  • Cate Blanchett nabs two nominations -- for best actress and best supporting actress
  • Status of awards show still up in the air; writers strike has dampened mood
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By Todd Leopold
CNN
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(CNN) -- A coldblooded killer and a coldblooded tycoon led the Oscar nominations Tuesday, with a lawyer suffering from an ethical crisis also earning a strong showing.

Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as an oil tycoon in "There Will Be Blood" has earned raves.

"No Country for Old Men," the Coen brothers' film about a brutal killer and laconic sheriff pursuing a man across the scrub of west Texas, earned eight nominations for the 80th Academy Awards, including nods for best picture, best director and best supporting actor (Javier Bardem).

The film tied "There Will Be Blood," Paul Thomas Anderson's movie about the rise of an oil tycoon, which received nominations for best picture, best director and best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis).

The drama "Michael Clayton," about a lawyer (George Clooney) undergoing a crisis of conscience, also did well, picking up nominations in five of the six major categories: best picture, best director (Tony Gilroy), best actor (George Clooney), best supporting actor (Tom Wilkinson) and best supporting actress (Tilda Swinton). Gilroy was also nominated for best original screenplay. Video Watch clips from the nominated films »

The film received seven nominations overall.

Also winning seven nominations was "Atonement," the drama about a relationship threatened by a child's lie. The film earned nominations for best picture and best supporting actress (Saoirse Ronan).

The fifth best picture nominee is "Juno," the story of a pregnant high schooler in search of a couple to adopt her child. See the major nominees »

The nominations were announced Tuesday morning from Beverly Hills, California.

As always, the Oscars had some surprises. Tommy Lee Jones earned a best actor nomination for "In the Valley of Elah," a much-praised film that had received little recognition in awards ceremonies. Jason Reitman received a best director nomination for "Juno," considered this year's sleeper in the "Little Miss Sunshine" mode. Video Watch some Oscar surprises »

And two longtime actors who had never been nominated for Oscars -- 83-year-old Ruby Dee and Hal Holbrook, soon to turn 83 also -- both received recognition for their supporting performances in "American Gangster" and "Into the Wild," respectively. Video Watch Holbrook describe his feelings on finally being nominated »

Reitman, 30, who found out about his nomination while watching CNN, will fulfill a childhood dream. When he was younger, he told his father, producer and director Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters"), that he would one day take him to the Oscars. Now, Jason Reitman told CNN, he can.

However, Oscar turned the back of its hand to "Atonement's" director, Joe Wright, and lead performers Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. Angelina Jolie, on many critics' short lists for her performance in "A Mighty Heart," was overlooked, as was Sean Penn, who directed "Into the Wild."

"American Gangster," the high-octane film about a wealthy African-American drug dealer and a detective trying to bring him down, earned one nomination aside from the supporting actress nod: art direction.

Cate Blanchett picked up nominations in two categories, best actress ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age") and best supporting actress ("I'm Not There"). It marks the second time she's been nominated for playing the Tudor monarch Elizabeth I. Blanchett also played the English queen in 1999's "Elizabeth."

Marion Cotillard, who was nominated for her performance as French singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," told The Associated Press she was stunned by her best actress nod.

"It's as if I had swallowed some fireworks or something like this. My friends and my family in Paris, they are so happy," the AP quoted her as saying.

The three films nominated for best animated feature are an interesting mix: "Ratatouille," a computer-animated Pixar film directed and written by Oscar winner Brad Bird ("The Incredibles"); "Persepolis," a sparsely drawn, largely black-and-white film based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi; and "Surf's Up," a computer-animated film about penguins that got lost among the summer blockbusters.

"Enchanted," the Disney film about an animated princess come to life, earned three of the five best song nominations. Among those left out was Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, who wrote music for "Into the Wild."

Aside from Clooney, Day-Lewis and Jones, other best actor nominees are Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street") and Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises"). Video Watch the actors in their nominated roles »

Joining Blanchett as best actress nominees are Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose"), Ellen Page ("Juno"), Julie Christie ("Away from Her") and Laura Linney ("The Savages") Video Watch clips of the nominated actresses »

The nominees for best supporting actor are Bardem, Holbrook, Wilkinson, Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War") and Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford").

Best supporting actress nominees are Dee, Blanchett, Ronan, Swinton and Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone").

This year's Oscar race is considered one of the most wide open ever. "Atonement," which won the Golden Globe for best drama, was ignored by several other organizations. "No Country" and "Clayton," though widely praised by film critics, have yet to top $50 million at the box office.

Of performers, Bardem, Day-Lewis and perhaps Christie are the closest things to front-runners, a fact that Wilkinson, competing against Bardem, readily acknowledged.

"I'm pretty sure that I won't win, but it's thrilling to think there are five people and you are in the top five," he told the AP.

But the biggest question facing the Oscars is: Will anybody show up?

The status of the ceremony has been in flux because of the still-unsettled Writers Guild of America strike, which began November 5.

Though Oscar organizers have said their show will go on regardless of the strike, the Screen Actors Guild said in a statement that it will honor writers' picket lines, leaving many celebrities to decide whether they want to attend the ceremony.

The Golden Globes, which were awarded January 13, were forced to replace the usual star-studded broadcast in favor of a brief press conference because of the strike.

"I would never cross a picket line ever. I couldn't," "Michael Clayton" director and writer Gilroy told the AP. "I'm a 20-year member of the Writers Guild. I think whatever they work out is going to be one way or the other but no, I could never cross a picket line. I think there's a lot of people who feel that way."

Best actor nominee Mortensen was equally firm, according to the AP.

"If there's a strike, I will not go, but I have a feeling they'll solve it. I hope they do," he told the AP. But he added, "I'm sure my mom would like to see me on TV and so forth, but if there's a strike I'm not crossing the line."

But Lianne Halfon, one of the producers of best-picture nominee "Juno," said she'd be at the Academy Awards regardless, the AP reported.

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"I don't think you can postpone it, it's not like a wedding. They're saying it's going to happen," she told the AP. "If they throw the party, if they open the door, I'm going to go."

The Oscars will take place February 24 from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. Jon Stewart is scheduled to host. The broadcast will air on ABC. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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