Oscar fever wraps up Hollywood's A-list

February 19, 2009 7:10:41 AM PST
From Paris to India to the snowy slopes at the Sundance Film Festival, Oscar-mania has swept the globe after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its newest nominees. In Paris, Brad Pitt and director David Fincher learned that their sweeping film, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," had garnered 13 nominations, including best picture and best actor for Pitt, who remained cool and collected.

"The Oscars are our highest honor, so it's great fun for the movie to get acknowledged," Pitt told reporters in the City of Light where he was promoting the film. "But it's not the goal. It's a fickle business. They're to be enjoyed if you're invited, and they're to be enjoyed if you're not."

New to the party this year is "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle, who could hardly contain his joy in Mumbai, India, after learning his rags-to-riches tale had picked up 10 nods. It was a full-circle moment for Boyle and the cast he'd plucked from obscurity as they celebrated the Hollywood honor in the Bollywood city where "Slumdog" was made.

Watch the Oscars Live Telecast, Feb. 22, 2009 on ABC TV

"Vodafone's [cell phone] profits are going through the roof as everybody tries to call everybody," he told reporters in Mumbai as he got ready for Slumdog's premiere. "It's unbelievable."

Word of Heath Ledger's posthumous best supporting actor nomination for "The Dark Knight" prompted "pride and excitement" from the actor's family in his hometown of Perth, Australia, but the celebration was bittersweet, as the news came on the one-year anniversary of Ledger's death.

"It seems like merely yesterday, and we are all still nursing broken hearts," said Kate Ledger, one of the actor's sisters.

She and Ledger's two other sisters, Ashleigh Bell and Olivia Ledger, read a statement today at Cottesloe Beach, the site of Ledger's memorial service last year.

"In Heath's words, he had the time of his life portraying the Joker and said that it was the most fun he'd ever had working on a film," Bell said.

Back in the Western Hemisphere, Ledger's "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Anne Hathaway basked in the glow of her first Oscar nomination, a best actress nod for playing a manic sister-of-the-bride in "Rachel Getting Married."

Brad Pitt, Anne Hathaway, Danny Boyle and Heath Ledger's Family React to Oscar Nominations

"It's hard to believe that it's real. It's hard to believe that you deserve it," Hathaway told ABC News Radio. "But it's also a huge, huge, huge honor."

After dumping felonious boyfriend Raffaelo Follieri last year, Hathaway celebrated her nomination with family, and man's best friend.

"I was with my parents and my dog when I got the news," she said. "Although I'm not sure my dog knew what was going on.

"Benjamin Button" co-star and newly minted supporting actress nominee Taraji P. Henson knew exactly why her phone was ringing in the wee hours of the morning in Los Angeles.

"The phone rings at 5:30 a.m., and I know why it's ringing," she said through laughter. "Because no one's gonna call with bad news at that hour."

A best actress nod put "Frozen River" star Melissa Leo on the map before she'd even woken up Thursday morning in Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival is under way.

"I was lying happily in bed asleep & and my dear friend Deb called," Leo said. "She was watching on the telly. & I had no idea this sort of thing was televised every year!"

Leo shared a congratulatory hug with friend and fellow first-time nominee Josh Brolin, who was tapped for his supporting role in "Milk," which bagged eight nominations.

"It's a surreal feeling. ... I'm so happy for the movie," Brolin said. "To see my name, read with the other people up there is an incredible thing because I've just been a working actor for the last 25 years."

A few nominees will become Oscar winners at the 81st Annual Academy Awards Feb. 22 on ABC.