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'Old Men' and 'Blood' Lead Oscar Pack

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The nominees for the 80th Annual Academy Awards were announced today in Beverly Hills. Leading the Best Picture category with eight nominations overall are "There Will Be Blood."

(Soundbite of movie "There Will Be Blood")

Mr. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (Actor): (As Daniel Plainfield) I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.

NORRIS: And "No Country for Old Men."

(Soundbite of movie "No Country for Old Men")

Mr. JAVIER BARDEM (Actor): (As Anton Chigurh) What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss? Call it.

Mr. GENE JONES (Actor): (As Gas Station Proprietor) Call it?

Mr. BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) Yes.

Mr. JONES: (As Gas Station Proprietor) I didn't put nothin' up.

Mr. BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) Yes, you did. You've been putting it up your whole life, you just didn't know.

NORRIS: Two violent films set in the American West. Also nominated, the World War II romantic drama, "Atonement," the legal thriller, "Michael Clayton" -each with seven nominations - and rounding up the list of surprise announcement, "Juno," a quirky comedy about a 16-year-old who surprises their family when she announces that she's pregnant.

(Soundbite of movie "Juno")

Mr. J.K. SIMMONS (Actor): (As Mac MacGuff) Did you see that coming?

Mr. ALLISON JANNEY (Actress): (As Bren MacGuff) Yeah, but I was hoping she was expelled or into hard drugs.

Mr. SIMMONS: (As Mac MacGuff) Or a DWI - anything but this.

NORRIS: Our film critic Bob Mondello's in the studio to talk about the upcoming Oscars. Hello, Bob.

BOB MONDELLO: Hi, good to be here.

NORRIS: Let's begin with that Best Picture list. A lot of very dark films there.

MONDELLO: It's true. Three of those actually qualify as outright tragedies. "Michael Clayton," which is supposedly affirmative, is about corporate corruption. And "Juno," which is the one comedy in the group, is about a teenage girl, a 16-year-old who gets pregnant and have to tell her parents about it. I mean, it's a - this is not a cheerful bunch of pictures.

NORRIS: You know, stellar performances by several actresses this year. But when you look at this, this listing, a lot of dark films - maybe dark days for female actresses as well because they're so male-oriented.

MONDELLO: Oh, well, that's possible. I - although I think actually the women's categories are more competitive perhaps than the male ones. I think people sort of generally think that Daniel Day-Lewis is likely to be the main man in the Best Actor category. He is up against George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Tommy Lee Jones and Viggo Mortensen. And I think the general consensus is this is his year.

In actress, you've got Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard, both really extraordinary. Julie Christie is a patient with Alzheimer's who has to go into a nursing home, and Marion Cotillard playing Edith Piaf's fabulous songs. And then Cate Blanchett got nominated for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," a picture that nobody much liked, and she was Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" - one of six Bob Dylans. So those are going to be pretty competitive categories, even if they're rather not on the radar screen quite as much as the men are.

NORRIS: Any surprises in these categories?

MONDELLO: Well, I think it was reasonable to be surprised that Emile Hirsch wasn't nominated for "Into the Wild." He's extraordinary in the picture. He has to carry the whole film. Actually…

NORRIS: But Hal Holbrook did get a nomination for this film?

MONDELLO: Well, that's true. Although, to some extent - I mean, he's 84 years old. He is the oldest actor ever to be nominated in that category. And I think, to some extent, they want to give him something, you know? It - that may have affected - Ruby Dee got a nomination. She was nominated in the Best Supporting category for "American Gangster."

NORRIS: You mentioned "Into the Wild," other shutouts or films that were - didn't get the recognition that you might not expect?

MONDELLO: Well, I kind of thought "Sweeney Todd" was going to do better. It's nominated in several categories, but it wasn't nominated for Best Picture. I'm pretty astonished that "Charlie Wilson's War," which got a lot of attention and is doing pretty well at the box office. You see, one of the things is that a lot of these pictures aren't doing all that well at the box office. And, you know, unless you have movies that have done well at the box office, people don't tune in to the Oscars. And so, you know, ordinarily, there's at least one blockbuster in the bunch, and the biggest one right now is "Juno," which is the little picture that could (unintelligible).

NORRIS: So, we're talking about the Academy - nominations for the Academy Awards. What about the awards ceremony itself? Will there be a ceremony?

MONDELLO: Oh, let's say that's still up I the air. No, I - actually, they will have a ceremony of some sorts, sort of like the Golden Globes did, even if it ends out just being…

NORRIS: Really? Just a press conference?

MONDELLO: Well, just a press conference. They have a problem in that the actors are extremely unlikely, even though this is their only chance to wear gowns this season, apparently. They're extremely unlikely to show up and cross picket lines when they're involved in a big argument with the studios. So, frankly, I think they're going to find an excuse to settle it before then because this would be too bad for the industry. You kind of need the Oscars to push these pictures, especially in a year when the pictures are not pushing themselves.

NORRIS: So this might be the beacon that brings both sides back to the bargaining table?

MONDELLO: Well, let's hope.

NORRIS: Maybe. Thank you, Bob.

MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.

NORRIS: Our movie critic, Bob Mondello, talking about this year's Oscar nominees. And you'll find a full list, plus reviews and interviews, at our Web site, npr.org/movies.

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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