79th Oscar Nominations Announced

And the Award could potentially go to...

Let the speculation, betting and downright bribery begin! The nominees for the 79th annual Academy Awards have been announced by Salma Hayek (looking unfeasibly glamorous for 5.30am, LA time). And it’s a good year for Babel, which picked up five of the major nominations and seven nods in total. Dreamgirls was the most nominated film with eight nods, but three of those were for Songs, and only two were in the major categories. Closely behind that is The Queen with six nominations, four in the major categories, while The Departed and Blood Diamond scored five each.

Little Miss Sunshine, an outsider-turned-favourite after its PGA win last weekend, picked up four nominations, all in the major categories, while Letters From Iwo Jima also took four spots, three of which are in the majors. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest also had four, all in the technical categories, and picking up three nominations were Little Children, Apocalypto, United 93 and Children of Men. Cars, The Prestige and An Inconvenient Truth all picked up two.

There were some surprises here. Dreamgirls didn't get the Best Picture or Best Director nod that people were expecting, while Little Children, which was well reviewed but hardly anyone saw, did better than expected. The strong performance of Little Miss Sunshine is less of a surprise, as that's been picking up momentum in recent weeks, culminating in its triumph at the Producers Guild last weekend. It's good to see Paul Greengrass get a nod for the searing United 93, although it does highlight an odd disparity between the Best Director and Best Picture categories.

The acting categories are more as expected. It's good to see two acting nods for Babel, and Mark Wahlberg finally getting some love for his smart, funny turn in The Departed. And Penelope Cruz is recognised for her role in Volver and Eddie Murphy up for Dreamgirls, so all's right in the world.

Overall, however, it's anybody's year. The Best Picture race remains wide open, and even likely shoo-ins Helen Mirren and Forest Whittaker face some stiff competition in the lead Acting categories. This year, more than most, is going to be an interesting race.

The ceremony will take place on February 25 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Check Empire Online between now and then for the very best in Oscar speculation, predictions and discussion.

The Full List Of Nominations:

Best Picture
The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Best Supporting Actress
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel
Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin – Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
Adriana Barraza - Babel

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin – Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Djimon Hounsou – Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg – The Departed

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench – Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren – The Queen
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet – Little Children

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio – Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker – Last King of Scotland

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Babel
Martin Scorsese – The Departed
Clint Eastwood – Letters From Iwo jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Paul Greengrass – United 93

Best Original Screenplay
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Queen

Best Adapted Screenplay
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

Best Animated Film
Happy Feet
Monster House

Achievement In Cinematography
The Black Dahlia
Children Of Men
The Illusionist
Pan's Labyrinth
The Prestige

Achievement In Costume Design
Curse Of The Golden Flower
The Devil Wears Prada
Marie Antoinette
The Queen

Best Documentary Feature
Deliver Us From Evil
An Inconvenient Truth
Iraq In Fragments
Jesus Camp
My Country, My Country

Best Documentary Short Subject
The Blood Of Yingzhou District
Recycled Life
Rehearsing A Dream
Two Hands

Achievement In Art Direction
The Good Shepherd
Pan's Labyrinth
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

Achievement In Film Editing
Blood Diamond
Children Of Men
The Departed
United 93

Best Foreign Language Film Of The Year
After The Wedding
Days Of Glory (Indigènes)
The Lives Of Others
Pan's Labyrinth

Achievement In Makeup
Pan's Labyrinth

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Score)
The Good German
Notes On A Scandal
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Song)
"I Need To Wake Up" - An Inconvenient Truth
"Listen" - Dreamgirls
"Love You I Do" - Dreamgirls
"Our Town" - Cars
"Patience" - Dreamgirls

Best Animated Short Film
The Danish Poet
The Little Matchgirl
No Time For Nuts

Best Live Action Short Film
Binta And The Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)
Helmer & Son
The Saviour
West Bank Story

Achievement In Sound Editing
Blood Diamond
Flags Of Our Fathers
Letters From Iwo Jima
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Achievement In Sound Mixing
Blood Diamond
Flags Of Our Fathers
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Achievement In Visual Effects
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Superman Returns