Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Benjamin Button leads Oscar field

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has emerged as the frontrunner for this year's Oscars with 13 nominations.

Slumdog Millionaire, from Britain's Danny Boyle, was close behind with 10 nominations, including best film.

The Dark Knight and Milk received eight nominations, with the late Heath Ledger receiving a best supporting actor nod.

Meryl Streep scored a 15th Oscar nomination for her role in the film Doubt, alongside Kate Winslet for best actress in Stephen Daldry's The Reader.

Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire were joined by Milk, The Reader and Frost/Nixon as contenders for the coveted best picture prize.

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Oscar nominations announced

"For Slumdog Millionaire to be included in the nominations for the Oscars is a huge honour," said lead actor Dev Patel.

"I have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the film. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. I truly feel blessed."

Winslet, receiving her sixth Oscar nomination, was the only British actor to be honoured with an Oscar nomination this year.

Aside from Streep, her rivals include Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Melissa Leo for Frozen River and Angelina Jolie for The Changeling.

Jolie's real-life partner Brad Pitt was also celebrating. The 45-year-old led the best actor nominations for his role as Benjamin Button - a man who ages in reverse.

"I am proud and pleased for the film," Pitt told the BBC. "And particularly for David Fincher." Fincher, best known for Seven and Fight Club, picked up his first best director Oscar nomination.

BEST FILM NOMINEES
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Pitt goes head to head with Frank Langella, for his role as disgraced US president Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn, as gay rights activist Harvey Milk in Milk, Richard Jenkins for The Visitor and recent Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler.

"I'm very grateful and appreciative of this incredible honour. I'm truly thrilled to be included," said 56-year-old Rourke, whose return to form has startled critics after years in the doldrums.

Slumdog Millionaire's Danny Boyle received his first nomination for best director, alongside Britain's Stephen Daldry for The Reader and Benjamin Button's Fincher.

Milk's Gus Van Sant and Frost/Nixon's Ron Howard completed the best director nominees.

"We are delighted that the Academy has so generously recognised our film," said Eric Fellner, of Working Title Films, the production company behind Frost/Nixon.

"All of these nominations... show that our industry is performing at the top of its game on the international stage," added John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council.

There were few surprises in the nominations, announced by former Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, in Hollywood at 0530 local time.

MOST NOMINATED FILMS
Dev Patel (l) and Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttton - 13
Slumdog Millionaire (pictured) - 10
The Dark Knight - 8
Milk - 8
Wall-E - 6
Doubt - 5
Frost/Nixon - 5
The Reader - 5
Changeling - 3
Revolutionary Road - 3
However, it was widely anticipated that Winslet would feature in both the best supporting and best actress categories, following her double win at the Golden Globes.

Her omission in the best supporting category created space for The Wrestler's Marisa Tomei and Benajmin Button's Taraji P Henson, best known for her role in Hustle and Flow.

They were joined by Doubt stars Amy Adams and Viola Davis, and previous best actress nominee Penelope Cruz, for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Actor Michael Shannon made an unexpected appearance among the best supporting actor nominees - the only actor to be nominated from the cast of Revolutionary Road, despite award hopes for both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Milk's Josh Brolin, Doubt's Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr for Tropic Thunder and Heath Ledger completed the category. Ledger, who received the nomination on the anniversary of his death, remains the favourite to win.

The critically acclaimed Batman sequel, the second-highest grossing film in US box office history, did well in the technical categories, but British film-maker Christopher Nolan missed out in both the director and screenplay categories.

Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
Tomei previously won an Oscar for her role in My Cousin Vinny in 1993

Nonetheless, British screenwriters were well represented with Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky), Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), Sir David Hare (The Reader) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) all nominated.

"I am fantastically happy and honoured," said Beaufoy. "Not just for myself but for Vikas Swarup's wonderful novel without which I would have never started my journey to the world's Maximum City, Mumbai."

The film also picked up two nominations for original song, alongside Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman for Down To Earth from Wall-E.

Six-time nominee Wall-E, shortlisted alongside Bolt and Kung Fu Panda, is widely tipped to win the best animated feature film Oscar.

Only two previous films - Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950) - have received more than 13 nominations. Both films were shortlisted in 14 categories.

The awards, to be hosted by actor Hugh Jackman, will be announced on 22 February at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

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