Contenders react to Acad's announcement

This article was updated at 1:41 p.m.

For “Brokeback Mountain” helmer Ang Lee, the news of eight nominations for the picture sent him into a state of “relief.”

“I was anxious because I did not want anyone to be left out,” he explained. “Everyone worked in harmony as a chorus. Nobody stands out.”

Lee also expressed his gratitude to the Acad for feting a film that was “simply made.”

“There was no cinematic ambition,” he said. “I just set out to tell a story about the complexity of life and love.”

* * *

“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” hyphenate Alex Gibney said he gave out a “wild whoop” when he got the news about the docu’s nom. “I then called everyone in the team. And everyone proceeded to give the same whoop.”

On the set of his next pic about Hunter Thompson, Gibney said, “I find it’s a delicious irony that we get the Oscar nominations on the day after the trial began. I don’t think it will affect the trial, but it will give people a window into the trial.”

He said he never intended to get into the guilt or innocence of the people involved. “I always intended it as a morality tale.”

“It’s like the Titanic where a few people in first class rode away while the rest drowned.”

* * *

“March of the Penguins” writer-director Luc Jacquet had spent the previous night with the whole team celebrating at a French kudofest, but that was not going to stop him from celebrating again Tuesday for the Acad nomination.

“I have a very nice wine cellar underneath my house, like any self-respecting Frenchman,” he said via an interpreter and he intended to crack open a big bottle of champagne.

“I’m the first to be astonished, I didn’t anticipate it, to come from no budget to this,” he added.

* * *

“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit” co-helmers Nick Park and Steve Box whooped it up at Heathrow airport, while waiting to board a flight to New York.

“We were the third (and last) animated picture to be named, so my hands were very sweaty,” Park said.

“The Academy’s animated choices this year are very interesting,” Park continued. “They opted for traditional, less commercial animation.”

The pair said they planned to toast the nom, once en route to Gotham, with a glass of champagne, chased by a cup of tea.

* * *

“Murderball” docu co-helmer Dana Adam Shapiro was bedridden in rainy New York with a sore throat, but said, “this is one time, talking might actually make me better!”

“It’s true; you don’t make moves to win awards. But the recognition does present a nice end to the journey. There were hurdles along the way, a million of them. At first, nobody gave us money. Nobody threw us a bone. But Henry (Alex Rubin) and I stuck to our approach to tell this story straight, warts and all.”

* * *

A giddy, supporting actor nominee Paul Giamatti said, “I feel good, I feel very good. I had a great time making that movie (“Cinderella Man”). It was not easy, there were a lot of hard things, but I had a great time, a great part. It was a high-water mark in terms of working with a director. Ron Howard trusted me 100%.”

He had to improvise a lot, especially in the ring scenes. “I’m not good at improvising.”

In Toronto for “Shoot ‘em Up” Giamatti said he didn’t know anyone there and had the day free to entertain himself. “I’m here watching ‘Rockford Files’ on TV. They must have a marathon on. I’m going to a have a drink in a bar. Wander the streets of Toronto.”

* * *

Scribe Bobby Moresco was doing a radio show in Chicago, promoting his upcoming play “The Way of the Wise,” when he learned of his nomination with Paul Haggis for “Crash.”

“I feel gratified,” Moresco said. “Paul and I wrote it, no one paid us. We didn’t think anyone would make it. We didn’t think anyone would see it.”

The movie is not autobiographical, he said. “But there were incidents in our lives that we both drew on.”

* * *

“It’s a pretty exceptional day for me,” said Felicity Huffman, nommed for actress in “Transamerica.” “I kept dreaming that my alarm went off, it was 8 o’clock and I didn’t get nominated.”

But then she heard her husband, William H. Macy, answer the phone, chuckle and give her a big hug. “I thought is this part of my dream?”

While she called her family to tell them the news, she got a call from Harvey Weinstein. “That was pretty cool,” she added. “We have to thank Harvey and Bob, because of them more than my family and 10 friends are seeing it (“Transamerica”) in a living room. I’m proud to be a part of it. People watching the movie are leaving with great joy and we need more of that.”

Huffman was working during the day, but intended to go out to dinner with Macy and celebrate “with a huge bottle of champagne.”

* * *

“Capote” helmer Bennett Miller, woke up prepared for disappointment and was soon overwhelmed with “numbness and relief,” which was soon replaced by “gratitude.”

“This was such a personal film and to know that it can communicate and reach people is quite a feat,” he said.

Any plans to revel in the nod?

“It’s enough to walk around with it,” he added. “There’s no need for party hats and noisemakers.”

* * *

“When all the dust settles, the reality is that these nominations will become the star of the movie,” said Gavin Hood, helmer of foreign-language contender “Tsotsi” (South Africa.)

“When you don’t have an international star in your movie, on a practical level, these awards mean more than a nice congratulations. They give a film a chance of being seen outside of your country.”

* * *

Frosh nominee Terrence Howard, who was tapped for his perf in “Hustle & Flow,” was front and center by the TV “like an idiot” at 5:19 a.m. … waiting.

“I had no idea I would break down,” said the lead actor contender. “The first thing I did was call my mother in Pittsburgh. She had not been feeling well, so this was the best dose of medicine that I could ever give her.

“From the moment of conception that you decide to be an actor — whether you are 6 or 15 or 20 — you watch Oscars hoping they will call your name. Right now, I am a physical manifestation of that hope and dream.”

Now that he’s fulfilled a lifelong dream, Howard must next conquer a lifelong fear — of heights. “I told a friend that if I was nominated, I would go skydiving,” he said. “So I might be jumping out of a plane this afternoon.”

* * *

Grant Heslov, who co-penned and is the producer of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” likened his original screenplay nod to “getting a bid for the Rose Bowl. It’s something you dream about,” he said.

Heslov, who admits he rarely sleeps — and instead listens to NPR all night long — learned of the pic’s six nominations while lying in bed with headphones on (listening to satellite radio), all the while trying not to wake up his wife.

“When they announced George’s ‘Syriana’ nomination, I pumped my arm; at screenplay, I yelped; and when George got director, I accidentally hit my wife,” he said. “By the time they got to picture, we had turned the TV on.”

* * *

“The Squid and the Whale” scribe-helmer Noah Baumbach‘s views of Oscar nomination day had been colored by the reaction bites of others that he’d read in the past.

“My idea of finding out that I’d been nominated was a phone call,” said the original screenplay nominee. “I woke about 9 a.m. (ET) and there was no phone call, so I thought this didn’t happen. But then I saw my cell phone and there were a number of messages.”

The first to call was Laura Linney and then came “the usual” — his agents, manager and publicist.

Baumbach said his parents liked the movie. “A lot is made of it being autobiographical, but it’s a lot of fiction, they’re able to see it,” he said.

“After the first half-hour of feeling good, I’ve been thrown into anxiety,” he added because he’s in pre-production on his next movie (“The Fantastic Mr. Fox”).

* * *

Rachel Weisz, in Los Angeles for the SAG Awards, was awoken by a call from a South American radio station. “I won’t stay under my own name any more,” she said.

Weisz was very happy not only about her own nomination (supporting actress), but also about “The Constant Gardener’s” three other noms. “It’s the greatest honor you can get,” she said.

“I feel like the issues the movie raised are relevant for some time to come. The Academy shined a light on it, more people will think about it.”

A charity the people behind the movie had set up had built schools, bridges and toilets near Nairobi, Kenya, she said.

Shooting in Africa had been a “big influence” on her, Weisz said. “I personally have become an ambassador for the U.N. food program.”

* * *

Caroline Baron, one of three producers of five-time nominee “Capote,” is 8½ months pregnant, so Monday evening was just another restless night. But when she learned of the noms, Baron feared the shock might send her into labor.

Fellow producer Michael Ohoven, was on cloud nine. “I’m excellent today. It’s such a great day, it’s beyond my wildest dreams, five nominations for this picture,” he said from Europe.

“It’s important for our picture, it’s a small picture, it will get a lift from these nominations,” he predicted.

* * *

A rather sleepy Heath Ledger said he was very excited about the nomination, his first.

“I think people are just getting over their personal fears,” he said of “Brokeback Mountain.” “It’s a personal story, a very honest telling of an ancient story, which is love.”

As for how he was going to celebrate the nomination, he said, “with a nap.”

* * *

How does Judi Dench feel about being a contender in the actress category for her turn in “Mrs. Henderson Presents”?

“Absolutely wonderful. I am so thrilled to be nominated for something I loved working on every single day. I’m in such good company.”

* * *

Actress nominee Keira Knightley is on location shooting “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequels and recalls shooting “Pride & Prejudice.”

“We spent a glorious summer making this film in lovely England, with lovely, lovely director Joe Wright. It was great news to wake up to after a long night shoot on a pirate ship — four wonderful nominations! I’m so proud.”

* * *

“I am so happy to be part of such a great movie and am grateful to Bennett Miller for including me,” Catherine Keener said of her supporting actress nom for “Capote.”

* * *

“I am so thrilled with this nomination!” exclaimed supporting actress Amy Adams.

“I want to take the opportunity to thank the incredible director, cast and crew of ‘Junebug.’ I also want to congratulate the other nominees — it is such an honor to be in such great company.”

* * *

“I am thrilled and honored beyond belief to have been nominated for this award,” Dolly Parton said. She’s nominated in the original song category for “Travelin’ Thru” from “Transamerica.”

“It’s always great to be a part of something so special, not just the Oscars but the wonderful film ‘Transamerica.’ ”

* * *

“Being nominated for an Oscar — and in such sterling company — is an honor,” cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto said, “and I’m so proud to have been a part of Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ team.”

* * *

“I am thrilled that ‘Corpse Bride’ has been nominated (for animated feature),” Tim Burton said, “and especially happy for all of the artists that worked on the project.”

* * *

“Waking up this early made me reminisce about being a kid, waking up early to beat traffic so my siblings and I could make it to auditions,” actor contender Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”) recollects.

“In all those long car rides, I never thought about awards for acting (I didn’t know they existed). I was an actor because the work was rewarding. I never imagined that it would all lead to this moment. I don’t posses the vocabulary to accurately express the sense of gratitude I feel for this great honor. It’s made the entire journey more fulfilling then I ever expected.”

* * *

“I was with ‘Pride’s’ director Joe Wright and producer Paul Webster having a rather dull budget meeting on our next movie at Working Title when the call came in,” explained “Pride & Prejudice’s” art direction nominee Sarah Greenwood. “Needless to say, we all yelped with joy! I’m over the moon!”

* * *

“I was in the studio writing a cue for my next film, my mind a million miles away from ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ when Joe Wright called me with the news. I literally had to sit down, breathless,” said Dario Marianelli, who is nominated for his score.

“There’s a misguided notion that one has to suffer to do good work, and that just didn’t happen on this film. It’s been a real blessing.”

* * *

“When Joe Wright and I first talked about the costumes for ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ we both agreed to alter the aesthetic of the usual period look, and opted for more provincial, earthy, lived-in and real costumes,” Jacqueline Durran recalls. “I’m so thrilled that our approach has been embraced!”

* * *

“Working with director Fernando Meirelles on ‘The Constant Gardener’ was wonderful. I’m very proud of the way our film’s love story is conveyed through the editing, and I’m pleased that the members of the Academy appreciated my work,” editor nominee Claire Simpson said.

* * *

Filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad said of the “Paradise Now” nom, “This is great news for all of the people who lost hope of being recognized as a part of civilization.”

* * *

“When we saw ‘Murderball’ and ‘Hustle & Flow’ at Sundance, we loved their unconventional subject matter and each filmmakers’ distinct voice. We knew they would have a perfect home at MTV Films and are ecstatic that the Academy has recognized them,” said David Gale, Executive Vice President, MTV Films.

“Murderball” is listed among the feature documentaries while “Hustle & Flow” is saluted for original song and Terrence Howard is honored in the actor arena.

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