The race begins – Metro US

The race begins

The romantic fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button led Academy Awards contenders Thursday with 13 nominations, among them best picture and acting honours for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson, and a directing slot for David Fincher.

Other best-picture nominees are Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire.

As expected, the late Heath Ledger had a supporting-actor nomination for The Dark Knight. But the Batman blockbuster was shut out from other top categories such as best picture and director.

Slumdog Millionaire lived up to its rags-to-riches theme, coming in second with 10 nominations, including a directing spot for Danny Boyle and two of the three song slots.

Pitt and real-life partner Angelina Jolie both will be going to the Oscars as nominees. Jolie had a best-actress nomination for the missing-child drama Changeling, while Pitt is up for his role as a man born old who ages backward toward childhood, an epic tale based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story.

The acting categories were loaded with surprises. Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes, best dramatic actress for Revolutionary Road and supporting actress for The Reader. But she was nominated for lead actress at the Oscars for The Reader — and shut out for Revolutionary Road, as was Leonardo DiCaprio, who reunited with his Titanic co-star for the film.

Actors considered longshots also sneaked in, among them lead-actor nominee Richard Jenkins for The Visitor, best-actress contender Melissa Leo for Frozen River and supporting-actor pick Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road.

Other best-actress nominees were Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married and Meryl Streep for Doubt. It was a record 15th nomination for Streep, who already had more Oscar nominations than any other actor.

Joining Pitt and Jenkins in the best-actor category were Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn, Milk; and Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

• The Oscars will be presented Feb. 22 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.