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'Brokeback Mountain' Leads Oscar Race

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'Brokeback Mountain' Leads Oscar Race

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'Brokeback Mountain' Leads Oscar Race

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and as expected, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN led the pack. NPR's Kim Masters reports that the film is in contention in eight categories, including best picture, best director, and best actor.

KIM MASTERS reporting:

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, nominated for writing the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN screenplay, but Ossana says they were surprised that the film has shown such broad appeal.

Ms. DIANA OSSANA (Co-writer, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN): I think we didn't imagine that it would sort of seep into the culture the way that it has.

MASTERS: McMurtry says the proof is that a signature line from the film, I wish I knew how to quit you, is now being sold on T-shirts.

Mr. LARRY MCMURTRY (Co-writer, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN): That's penetrating the culture on your own T-shirts.

MASTERS: While BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN appears to be the frontrunner, CRASH is a strong dark horse contender in the best picture category. The film is a dark take on urban culture and racial politics set in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite from the movie CRASH)

MASTERS: Paul Haggis, the writer and director of CRASH says he wasn't that sanguine about his movie's prospects.

Mr. PAUL HAGGIS (Writer and Director, CRASH): We struggled writing the script, and we thought no one would ever buy it. When it was made then we thought no one would ever see it. Certainly, when it was released out early, we thought no one would remember it. We're stunned.

MASTERS: MUNICH, Steven Spielberg's controversial film about the aftermath of the 1972 terrorist attack at the Olympic Games, scored five nominations, including best picture and best director.

(Soundbite of the movie, MUNICH)

MASTERS: The film's producer, Kathy Kennedy.

Ms. KATHLEEN KENNEDY (Producer, MUNICH): We're incredibly relieved, relieved because we knew that the movie needed this.

MASTERS: Considered an early favorite, MUNICH opened to a lukewarm reception. It was not considered a sure thing for a nomination.

Ms. KENNEDY: We lost some momentum because there were certain people that were reviewing the subject matter and not the movie.

MASTERS: With this exposure, Kennedy says, the film has a chance to be seen beyond Los Angeles and New York.

Rounding out the best picture category are CAPOTE and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, George Clooney's film about Edward R. Murrow. WALK THE LINE, the movie about Johnny Cash and June Carter, did not make the best picture cut, but its stars, Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix, are nominated in the acting categories.

Best actress appears to be a dual between Witherspoon and Felicity Huffman, who plays a man in the final stages of gender reassignment in the film TRANSAMERICA. For best actor, Joaquin Phoenix faces stiff competition. One surprise contender is Terrence Howard, nominated for his role as hoodlum turned rapper in HUSTLE AND FLOW. Howard says the nomination is something he dreamed about.

Mr. TERRENCE HOWARD (Actor): I wanted it to happen. You know, and you always imagine in your heart, and I pictured that a few times. And it's so nice to see those pictures, you know, actually turn into a reality.

MASTERS: The frontrunner in the best actor category appears to be Philip Seymour Hoffman of CAPOTE. Also nominated are Heath Ledger, as lonesome cowboy Ennis Del Mar, and David Strathairn as newsman Murrow. The winners will be announced on Sunday, March 5.

Kim Masters, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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