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Slumdog: Rahman bags 3 Oscar nominations

Los Angeles, January 22
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a drama in which Brad Pitt plays a man who ages backward, led the field of Oscar contenders with 13 nominations, organisers said on Thursday.

“Slumdog Millionaire,” the tale of an impoverished orphan’s improbable victory on an Indian television game show, followed with 10, while the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” and the gay-rights saga “Milk” each landed eight.

“Benjamin Button,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Milk” will vie for best picture at the 81st annual Academy Awards on February 22, alongside “The Reader” and “Frost/Nixon.” All five also had best director nominations. Continuing his spectacular run, AR Rahman today became the first Indian to get the three Oscar nominations for his score in “Slumdog Millionaire”, which was also nominated for seven other categories. Rahman was nominated for best original score and the numbers Jai Ho and O Saya were shortlisted for the best original song.

Clint Eastwood’s recent box office champ “Gran Torino” was notably snubbed, with no nominations. As expected, late Australian actor Heath Ledger was nominated for his supporting role as the villainous Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription pills exactly a year ago, at the age of 28.

“The Dark Knight,” the biggest box office smash since “Titanic” in 1997, had been seen as having an outside shot at a best picture slot but all of its other nominations ended up being in technical categories. With 13 nominations, “Benjamin Button” falls one short of the record shared by “All About Eve” (1959) and “Titanic.” Its nominations included best actor for Pitt, best director for

David Fincher, best supporting actress for Taraji P. Henson and best adapted screenplay for Eric Roth and Robin Swicord. Loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Benjamin Button” has been a commercial and critical success, and will likely combine with “The Dark Knight” to boost the Oscar’s ratings. In recent years, Academy voters have favored smaller, arthouse pictures and TV viewers stayed away in droves.

“It is a good across-the-board look at movies of the past year,” said Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “I like the list because it is somewhat not as predicted. It goes from little old ‘Slumdog’ to big ‘Benjamin Button.”

Meryl Streep, 59, already the all-time acting Oscar record holder with 14 nominations, landed her 15th for her lead role in “Doubt,” in which she plays a vindictive nun. Kate Winslet got one nomination, taking her career total to six. This time, the 33-year-old British actress was cited for her lead role as a former Nazi prison guard in “The Reader.” — Agencies

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