2009 Oscar Nominations reveal few surprises

The long-awaited nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards were finally released on Jan. 22, much to the satisfaction of eager fans and pop culture fanatics.

Also known as the Oscars, the Academy Awards represent, for many actors, the ultimate recognition for cinematic endeavors, and for many fans, the ultimate night of entertainment by some of their favorite stars.

According to USA Today, "…nomination day brings cheers of joy - and inevitable disappointment."

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, received the greatest number of nominations, with a grand total of 13, including best picture, best actor in a leading role (Pitt), best actress in a supporting role (Blanchett) and best director (David Fincher).

Slumdog Millionaire, a British film starring Dev Patel, followed closely behind Benjamin Button with 10 nominations, including best picture and best director (Dan Boyle).

The best picture nominees are The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and Milk, all of which received nomination for best director as well.

The nominees for best actor in a leading role were Richard Jenkins for The Visitor, Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn for Milk, Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler.

For best actress in a leading role, the nominees included Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie for Changeling, Melissa Leo for Frozen River, Meryl Streep for Doubt and Kate Winslet for The Reader.

Freshman Nicholas Allen was "surprised that Kristin Scott Thomas was not nominated for her role in I've Loved You So Long for her incredibly nuanced performance."

Another large surprise among the nominations was the apparent snub of The Dark Knight. As USA Today reported, "The superhero thriller that was expected to make history as the first comic-book adaptation to take a best-picture nomination was passed over in most of the top categories."

Despite The Dark Knight not receiving as much attention as predicted, Heath Ledger still managed to secure a posthumous nomination for best actor in a supporting role. His competition includes Josh Brolin for Milk, Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt and Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road.

A full list of category nominees can be found on the Web site, Oscar.com. The Academy Awards ceremony will be shown on ABC on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.