January 31, 2006 08:45 AM

Oscar came to the mountain Tuesday morning, with director Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain leading this year’s list of Academy Award contenders, with eight nominations, including those for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor Heath Ledger and supporting players Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams.

George Clooney also got major good news – three nominations: for Supporting Actor in Syriana and for his direction and his co-screenwriting of the Edward R. Murrow biopic Good Night, and Good Luck, which is also in the running as Best Picture.

Also nominated in the top category are the Truman Capote story Capote; the ensemble drama about urban tensions Crash and Steven Spielberg’s thriller Munich. (Spielberg also got a Best Director nod.)

Failing to make the cut: the Johnny Cash biography Walk the Line, though its stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are up for Best Actor and Actress.

Two films tied with six nominations apiece: Crash and Good Night, and Good Luck. Memoirs of a Geisha received five, though Geisha was shut out in the top categories.

The acting categories were a mix of familiar Oscar faces such as past winners Judi Dench and Charlize Theron, veterans like Clooney, Witherspoon, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Felicity Huffman gaining their first Academy attention, and young performers such as Williams and Amy Adams, a Supporting Actress nominee for Junebug).

Besides Ledger, Phoenix and Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman, Terrence Howard scored a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of a small-time hood turned rap singer in Hustle & Flow. Also up for the honor is Strathairn for his turn as newsman Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

For Best Actress, the race is considered to be heaviest between Witherspoon, as June Carter Cash, and Huffman, who plays a man about to undergo sex-change surgery in Transamerica. The other nominees are Dench, for Mrs. Henderson Presents, Keira Knightley, for Pride & Prejudice and Theron, for North Country.

Left standing in the cold were such contenders as Russell Crowe, for Cinderella Man; Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, for The Squid and the Whale, and Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence.

In terms of comeback, Woody Allen nabbed a screenplay nomination for his much-praised Match Point, a drama set in London that’s considered his best effort in a decade.

Brokeback Mountain – a critical and, surprisingly given its storyline about two cowboys’ love for one another, a commercial hit – has already claimed separate top prizes from the Producers and Directors Guilds, which strongly portend Oscar victories. But the film failed to score any trophies at Sunday’s SAG Awards, with the ensemble award instead going to Crash.

The 78th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on Sunday, March 5.

Here’s a list of the major nominees:

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Actress
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Best Director
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Paul Haggis, Crash
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Steven Spielberg, Munich

Best Original Screenplay
Good Night, and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale

Best Adapted Screenplay
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence
MunichForeign Language Film
Don’t Tell
Joyeux Noël
Paradise Now
The Final Days of Sophie Scholl

Animated Feature
Howl’s Moving Castle
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Art Direction
Good Night, and Good Luck
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

Costume Design
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
Walk the Line

Film Editing
Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Walk the Line

Music (Score)
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

Music (Song)
“In the Deep” – Crash
“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” – Hustle & Flow
“Travelin’ Thru” – Transamerica

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Cinderella Man
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Sound Editing
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
War of the Worlds

Sound Mixing
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Walk the Line
War of the Worlds

Visual Effects
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
King Kong
War of the Worlds

Short Film (Animated)
The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello
One Man Band

Short Film (Live Action)
Ausreisser (The Runaway)
The Last Farm
Our Time is Up
Six Shooter

Documentary Feature
Darwin’s Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
March of the Penguins
Street Fight

Documentary Short
The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club
God Sleeps in Rwanda
The Mushroom Club
A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

You May Like