Hollywood's strategy of releasing its more "artistic" films in December so that they would be fresh in the minds of Oscar voters, appeared to have paid off in spades when nominations were announced early today (Thursday). All of the best-film nominees were December releases with nary a blockbuster hit among them. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , the biggest ticket seller of the lot ($103.6 million), did come away with the most nominations -- 13. But the studios have likely waited until the nominations were announced to give the others a wide release. They include Slumdog Millionaire , which critics appear to regard as the favorite to win and whih received 10 nominations, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Reader. The directors of those films also received best-director nominations David Fincher ( Button ), Danny Boyle ( Millionaire ), Ron Howard ( Frost/Nixon ), Gus Van Zandt ( Milk ), and Stephen Daldry ( Reader ). Among the other major nominees Best actor Sean Penn ( Milk ), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon ), Mickey Rourke ( The Wrestler ), Richard Jenkins ( The Visitor ) and Brad Pitt ( Button ). The nominees for best actress Kate Winslet ( The Reader ), Anne Hathaway ( Rachel Getting Married ), Meryl Streep ( Doubt ), Angelina Jolie ( Changeling ) and Melissa Leo ( Frozen River ). The Dark Knight , the biggest box-office hit of the year, was shut out of all the major awards, except in the category of best supporting actor, which the late Heath Ledger is widely expected to win.

22/01/2009