Debonair George Clooney, who won an Oscar in 2006 for Best Supporting Actor in “Syriana,” made the list of Best Actor nominees this time around, with a nod for his fine performance in “Michael Clayton.” Giving him a run for his statue are fellow Oscar veterans Daniel Day Lewis, whose performance in “There Will Be Blood” could earn him a twin for his “My Left Foot” award, and Tommy Lee Jones, who blew the critics away in “The Valley of Elah.”
Rounding out the category are Viggo Mortensen, for “Eastern Promises,” and Johnny Depp, for “Sweeney Todd.”
Australian actress Cate Blanchett scored her fourth and fifth Oscar nominations this year: for Best Actress in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” and Best Supporting Actress in “I’m Not There” (in which she played Bob Dylan). Ageless British icon Julie Christie, who won her first Oscar 42 years ago for the 1966 film, “Darling,” is in the running this year, for her performance in “Away From Her.” Laura Linney (“The Savages”), Marion Cotillard (“La Vie En Rose”), and newcomer Ellen Page (“Juno”) round out the category.
Irish actress Saoirse Ronan scored an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category, for her work in the period drama “Atonement,” which also stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. Ronan, 13, is the daughter of film and stage actor Paul Ronan, whose resume includes the films “Veronica Guerin” and “The Devil’s Own.” The young actress, who was also nominated for a BAFTA (British film award) and a Golden Globe for her performance, has an impressive slate of films ready for release, including “Death Defying Acts” opposite Catherine Zeta Jones, “City of Ember” with Bill Murray, and “The Lovely Bones,” with Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz.
Competing with Ronan in the Best Supporting Actress category are Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton,” Ruby Dee for “American Gangster,” and Amy Ryan, for her work in Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone.”
In the race for Best Supporting Actor are Casey Affleck (Ben’s little brother), which means the Boston Irish contingent will be all-out rooting for the hometown boy on Oscar night. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is equally proud of his Irish roots, is nominated for his performance in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” alongside Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men” ), Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”) and Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”).
Academy voters seemed in a serious mood this year, with only one comedy – “Juno” – making it into the Best Picture shortlist. The Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” based on the novel by Irish American writer Cormac McCarthy, is nominated, along with “Michael Clayton,” “Atonement,” and “There Will Be Blood.”
Frames singer Glen Hasnard, who starred in the sleeper hit, “Once,” earned a nomination in the Best Original Song category for “Falling Slowly,” which he wrote with his costar Marketa Irglova. The Dublin-born Hansard’s last big-screen outing was playing Outspan in the 1990 film, “The Commitments.”
Director Michael Moore is nominated for his healthcare industry expose “Sicko,” in the Best Documentary category.
The Oscars will be broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sunday, February 24, at 8 p.m.