Bill Condon's musical "Dreamgirls" received eight Oscar nominations on Tuesday (Jan. 23) morning, but the film was a surprising Best Picture snub, losing its slot to Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima."
Close behind "Dreamgirls," which padded its nomination total with three best song nominations (as well as high profile supporting nods for Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy), was the ensemble "Babel." The Golden Globe winner for best dramatic feature earned seven nominations, including best picture, though its biggest star, Brad Pitt, was also snubbed.
Joining "Babel" and "Letters from Iwo Jima" in the best picture race are "The Departed," "The Queen" and the quirky comedy "Little Miss Sunshine."
Though "Little Miss Sunshine" broke into the best picture race and scored nominations for Michael Arndt's screenplay and performances by Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris were left on the outside. Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Stephen Frears are, instead, joined by Paul Greengrass, recognized for his work on "United 93."
The nominations were announced by "Frida" star Salma Hayek, who expressed visible enthusiasm at one of the year's clearest trends, the rise of young Mexican directors. In addition to the seven nominations for Inarritu's "Babel," Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" had six nominations and Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men" earned three.
In addition to "Dreamgirls," Pitt and the "Sunshine" directors, Oscar nomination morning offered other exclusions galore. Veteran Oscar observers were left wondering how "Volver" was left out of the foreign language feature category, or how Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen missed out on a best actor nod for "Borat." Instead, "Volver" director Pedro Almodovar could take solace in the nomination for leading actress Penelope Cruz, a first-time nominee. And Cohen ended up sharing a best adapted screenplay nomination with the rest of his "Borat" team.
Additional debate can certainly be stirred over Leonardo DiCaprio getting his best actor nomination for "Blood Diamond," rather than "The Departed" or for first-time nominee Mark Wahlberg grabbing the Scorsese film's lone supporting nod over Oscar favorite Jack Nicholson.
Lest anybody think that critical praise is a prerequisite to Oscar glory, Tuesday morning saw nominations go to "Click" (best makeup) and "Poseidon" (achievement in visual effects), while the blockbuster sequel "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" actually got four nominations.
To recap, here's a partial list of nominees (the full list is available on the Oscars website):
Best Motion Picture of the Year