Oscar Watch 2007: Babel cleans up and Dreamgirls receives snub in best picture race

When the nominations for the 79th Annual Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday morning, many awards watchers were left stunned when for the first time in Academy Awards history, a film received the most nominations but failed to land in the Best Picture lineup.

That film is Dreamgirls. The Bill Condon-helmed musical blockbuster secured eight nominations from the Academy including two for supporting stars Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy but failed to place in the top categories. Dreamgirls was, however, able to match an existing Academy record. The musical became the first film since Beauty and the Beast in 1992 to land three nominations in the Best Original Song category. Even though she failed to be nominated for Best Actress, this secures a performance from star Beyonce Knowles during the Oscar telecast.

Clint Eastwood's little-seen Letters From Iwo Jima snuck in at the last minute to snag Best Picture and Director nominations. Also nominated for Best Picture of 2006 are Babel, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen.

Babel secured the second most nominations this year with seven including a Best Director nomination for Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu. Babel also received two nominations for its unknown supporting actresses Adriana Barazza and Rinko Kikuchi; however megastar

Brad Pitt failed to shortlist with the Academy.

The other Best Picture nominees each reaped multiple nominations. The Queen landed six nominations including a Best Actress nomination for frontrunner Helen Mirren, who has swept all precursor awards since early December. Peter Morgan's Golden Globe winning screenplay and director Stephen Frears also collected nominations from the Academy.

Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed each received four nominations. Sunshine produced two acting nominees - one of which has tied the record for youngest nominee ever. Eleven-year-old Abigail Breslin's charming performance as an unlikely beauty pageant contestant earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Alan Arkin's performance as Breslin's grandfather earned the veteran actor a Best Supporting Actor bid.

With The Departed, Martin Scorcese has a seventh chance to finally take home a Best Director trophy. The Departed also landed nominations for supporting player Mark Wahlberg and its screenplay but not for Academy favorite Jack Nicholson. The Departed star Leonardo DiCaprio also was nominated but surprisingly not for the Scorcese mob film. DiCaprio scored his third career nomination for the mildly received Blood Diamond.

Other surprises included six nominations for foreign film Pan's Labyrinth, an Adapted Screenplay nomination for Borat and its star Sacha Baron Cohen, and a snub in the Best Foreign Film category for the lauded Volver from Pedro Almodovar.

The Academy Awards air on ABC on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.