Oscar lead actor nominees



“The Visitor”

The veteran character actor, 61, receives his first lead actor Oscar nomination, as a widowed college professor who befriends an illegal immigrant and his mother. Jenkins, who is perhaps best known for playing the ghost of Nathaniel Fisher in HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” as well as for his comedic turns in such Coen brothers movies as “Burn After Reading” and “Intolerable Cruelty,” is also nominated for Screen Actors Guild and Film Independent Spirit awards.



After winning a Tony Award two years ago for his performance as Richard Nixon in the hit play, the 71-year-old Langella garners his first Academy Award nomination in the film version. If he wins the Oscar, Langella will join an elite list of performers, including Jose Ferrer for “Cyrano de Bergerac,” Rex Harrison for “My Fair Lady” and Paul Scofield for “A Man for All Seasons,” who have won the Tony and Academy Award for the same role. Nominated for a Golden Globe, Langella also is in contention for awards from SAG and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.



The outspoken actor, writer and director earns his fifth Oscar nomination in this category for his galvanizing turn as slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Penn, 48, previously was nominated for his leading roles in 1995’s “Dead Man Walking,” 1999’s “Sweet and Lowdown” and 2001"s “I Am Sam.” He won the Academy Award for lead actor for 2003’s “Mystic River.” Penn has earned numerous critics awards for his role in “Milk,” including from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Society of Film Critics. He was nominated for a Golden Globe and is up for SAG, BAFTA and Spirit awards.



“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

The former People magazine Sexiest Man Alive (in 1995 and 2000) receives his first lead actor Oscar nomination for his role in the nearly three-hour fable about a man who ages in reverse. Pitt, 45, previously received a supporting actor Academy Award nod for 1995’s “Twelve Monkeys.” The significant other of lead actress nominee Angelina Jolie was nominated for a Golden Globe and is also nominated for SAG and BAFTA awards.


“The Wrestler”

Rourke, 52, earns his first lead actor Oscar nomination for his poignant performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging athlete who won’t give up the wrestling ring. The drama marks a comeback for Rourke after his career faded in the 1990s. Rourke received the Golden Globe for his role in “The Wrestler” -- he thanked his dogs, past and present, in his colorful acceptance speech -- and has been nominated for Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Spirit awards.




“Rachel Getting Married”

Hathaway, who made her acting debut as a teenager a decade ago in the TV series “Get Real,” picks up her first Academy Award nomination as a young woman confronting her demons while attending her sister’s wedding. Hathaway, 26, successfully broke away from her Disney G-rated image acquired through roles in such family hits as “The Princess Diaries” and “Ella Enchanted” after appearing in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.” Hathaway earned best actress for “Rachel” from the National Board of Review and the Critics’ Choice Awards. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and is up for SAG and Spirit awards.



Thursday was a good day in the Jolie-Pitt household, as the domestic partners both earned lead acting nominations. The 33-year-old Jolie received her first Oscar nomination in this category for her role as a single mother living in Los Angeles in the late 1920s who desperately tries to find her missing son. The humanitarian and mother of six was also nominated for a Golden Globe for her role and is up for the SAG and BAFTA awards. Jolie won the supporting actress Oscar for 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted.”


“Frozen River”

The actress, best known for her role as the no-nonsense Baltimore detective Kay Howard on the 1990s series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” picks up her first Oscar nomination as a financially strapped mother who enters into an illegal smuggling operation with a Native American woman. The 48-year-old Leo is nominated for SAG and Spirit awards as well.



Streep, 59, earned her first Oscar nomination in the supporting actress category 30 years ago for “The Deer Hunter.” Two Oscar wins -- for supporting actress in 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” and lead actress in 1982’s “Sophie’s Choice” -- and three decades later, Streep garners her 15th Academy Award nomination, the most nods of any performer, for her role as a strong-willed nun who believes a young priest may have abused an altar boy. Streep tied with Hathaway for the Critics’ Choice Award for “Doubt” and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. She also is up for BAFTA and SAG awards.


“The Reader”

The native of Reading, England, receives her sixth Oscar nomination for her performance as a former Nazi prison guard who has an affair with a teenage boy. Winslet, 33, made Oscar history when at the age of 22 she became the youngest person to reach two Oscar nominations. She’s received previous lead actress nominations for 1997’s “Titanic,” 2004’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and 2006’s “Little Children.” Winslet also garnered supporting noms for 1995’s “Sense and Sensibility” and 2001’s “Iris.” Winslet won the Golden Globe in the supporting actress category for “The Reader” and is nominated for a SAG Award in that category (plus a lead SAG nom for “Revolutionary Road). She is nominated for a lead actress BAFTA award for “The Reader” and for “Revolutionary Road.”

-- Susan King