Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises courtesy Focus Features
A surprising number of movies had to make do with single nominations in the major categories:

Viggo Mortensen picked up a best-actor nom as an icy Russian Gangster in David Cronenberg's brutal thriller Eastern Promises, ditto Johnny Depp for Tim Burton's gothic adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Sentimental favorite Hal Holbrook, 82 (he'll be 83 by the time the ceremony takes place), took a best supporting actor nomination for Sean Penn's Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account of a troubled young man's search for meaning that eventually takes him deep into the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. It was also ignored in all other major categories despite strong reviews for Penn's direction and adapted screenplay, as well as Emile Hirsch's performance in the lead role. Audiences failed to warm to the film.

Much-loved veteran character actress Ruby Dee, 83, got the only nomination - for best-supporting actress - accorded Ridley Scott's American Gangster, stealing the spotlight from leads Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe as, respectively, a courtly drug dealer and the cop who brings down his heroin empire.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was recognized for his supporting performance as a scruffy CIA agent in the otherwise ignored Charlie Wilson's War - not for his excoriating turn in 83-year-old, much-lauded director Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which was ignored entirely.

Supporting-actor nominee Casey Affleck represents for the Brad Pitt starrer The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - I'm sure you don't need to be told who played Jesse and who played Ford. Affleck's leading turn in the thriller Gone, Baby, Gone (from the novel by multiple Oscar-winner Dennis Lehane of Mystic River fame) was ignored.

But for me, the real shocker is double-nominee Cate Blachett's best-actress nod for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, an overblown historical drama whose sumptuous sets and costumes are by far the best things about it. That said, her supporting nomination for playing one of the many Bob Dylans featured in Todd Haynes' kaleidoscopic I'm Not There is richly deserved. Blanchett is this year's only double acting nominee; neither film was recognized in any other major category.

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