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Just another work day for nominess

Dreams come true for Oscar's choices

This article was updated at 7:06 p.m.

Double Oscar nominee Jamie Foxx said if he sounds calm at all, it is because he is still in “work mode.”

The “Ray” actor/”Collateral” supporting actor, who is busy lensing Sam Mendes’ “Jarhead,” has welcomed the distraction of work during the hectic awards blitz.

But there was no distracting him on Tuesday. And while he was no doubt content with his own glory, Foxx was eager to discuss two other men: “Collateral” co-star Tom Cruise and “Ray” director Taylor Hackford.

Of Cruise, who was not nominated, Foxx said: “He does such a great job at being who he is that sometimes the work is overlooked. I will always be grateful to Tom because he was willing to step aside and in a sense make me more of a lead in ‘Collateral’ than I was. He said to me, ‘You’ve gotta eat, Foxx. Paul Newman let me eat, and in turn I am letting you.’ ”

As for “Ray” helmer, Foxx said, “Taylor Hackford was recognized today, and that makes it all sweeter because now we are in it together.”

* * *

“I have had extraordinary good luck with finding good stories,” “Million Dollar Baby” supporting actor nominee Morgan Freeman said early Tuesday morning.

“This was no exception. Yet, what made ‘Million Dollar Baby’ different from anything I have ever done is the fact this particular story was way off the beaten path. But Clint (Eastwood) had courage and the know-how to bring it right to the top. He does not comment or ruin a film with sentimentality. He just makes the movie.”

* * *

“I had expectations, but certainly not 11 of them,” said Michael Mann, producer of “The Aviator.” “We journeyed on a long road to get here; it took us six years to be exact. The odds were against the film because there were a number of other Howard Hughes projects in development and if any one of them had been moved to pre-production before us, we might have perished. And then there was the conundrum of what story about Howard Hughes do you tell? It was one impediment after another.”

How will Mann, who has been nominated by the Academy before (“The Insider,” 1999), celebrate?

“This is it,” he said, “then it’s back to work. I owe myself a rewrite of (feature) ‘Miami Vice’ by next week.”

Meanwhile, Mann’s fellow producer Graham King admitted he did not get much sleep Monday night. “I woke up at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat. So, I decided to watch a movie (his choice: “The Long Good Friday”) and load up on coffee until 5:38 a.m.”

* * *

Supporting actress nominee Laura Linney, who will carry the “Kinsey” torch alone come the big night, phoned from Vancouver, where she is lensing horror pic “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

“The phone basically exploded next to my bed and it was early; but still, what a great way to wake up,” she said. “Right now my body is fighting its way through the adrenaline jolt/sleep deprivation combo.”

Linney, the only one from the “Kinsey” camp to earn a nom, said, “Of course you feel conflicted, but I am proud to be waving the banner high. This was one of the best scripts I ever read; the subject matter was fascinating; and I got the chance to once again work with Liam (Neeson),” with whom she co-starred in a six-month Broadway run of “The Crucible.”

* * *

Hilary Swank has an Oscar under her belt for “Boys Don’t Cry,” and now a “Million Dollar Baby” nomination, but the actress is still convinced her next job could be her last.

“It still hits me all the time that I seriously am just lucky to work. I had a dream and I am now living the dream,” she told Daily Variety.

Swank, who admitted she was still in bed, said she had been trying all morning to get hold of her helmer, co-star and fellow nominee Clint Eastwood.

“He is not an early riser,” said Swank. “And the phone just rings and rings. I bet his ringer is not even on.”

* * *

“Finding Neverland” scribe David Magee hit one out of the park his first time at bat, nabbing a nom in the adapted screenplay category.

The frosh writer, who dwells on the East Coast, said he tried to keep up his normal morning routine as much as possible.

“I went to the gym, made breakfast for the family. Really, I was fine until 10 minutes before the announcements, when I found myself staring at the empty podium on the TV screen; that’s when the nerves kicked in and the adrenaline started pumping,” he said.

“This has been a remarkable opportunity. So many screenwriters never get a chance to sell their work, so for me to go this far is astounding. I was a struggling actor for years, so I understand struggle better than anyone does, as regional theater does not quite pay the bills. It is as if all that time as a wannabe actor I was knocking on the wrong door, and somehow — with writing — I have managed to get down the right hallway at the very moment that the right door was open.”

* * *

“I’m excited about the attention that the film’s Academy Award nominations will bring to affairs like Rwanda and the Sudan,” said “Hotel Rwanda” actor nominee Don Cheadle, who issued a statement from N’Djamena, Chad, where he is visiting refugee camps.

“I hope that this can bring these issues front and center in the minds of the people of the world. It’s rare that a film can do that.”

* * *

“There’s nothing quite like negotiating breakfast and diapers while doing interviews,” said four-time Oscar nominee and mother of two Kate Winslet, recognized for her lead perf in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“I know that I have been through this before and I should be taking it in stride, but I’m really not … at all. This feels new all over again, and I could not wait to call my parents. This was a complex film to work on, and I did it for little money because I was up for a challenge. And was Clementine ever a challenge!

“I am just thankful that Michel Gondry saw through all of my period pieces and corsets and allowed me to play the part.”

Winslet said she was pleased about her old friend and “Titanic” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio’s nomination for “The Aviator.” “I know how much that movie meant to him and what he put into it.”

* * *

“How delighted do I feel? On a scale of one to a million, it’s nearer the latter,” said an elated Imelda Staunton, nommed in the leading actress category for “Vera Drake.”

“I am surprised. I thought I was going to be squeezed out by the big girls. But today is my winning day. I have won a nomination, thank you, that will do for me. This is the biggest role I’ve ever had, and I felt very empowered making it. The biggest surprise and the biggest experience was making the film, and all of this is just very, very thick marzipan on top. I’m not 22, so I can take it in and appreciate it.”

When asked if this nomination would be at all life-changing, she replied, “Oh yes, I won’t be doing any cooking. I’m going to get servants and slaves, and I’m going to get very tall. That’s my ambition.”

* * *

“Mike (Leigh) and I were hopeful for Imelda (Staunton), but we were absolutely, completely taken by surprise about the nominations for best director and original screenplay,” said “Vera Drake” producer Simon Channing Williams. “Before the announcement we were as cool as cucumbers, because we really didn’t expect it. Mike had even booked himself to do something else that Sunday (of the Oscar show). We are really pleased with what Fine Line in America and Momentum in the U.K. has done with the film. I hope that Fine Line in particular will be rewarded with better receipts as a result of these nominations.”

Mike Leigh chimed in, admitting it was “a joke” about having made other plans for Oscar weekend and adding that pic’s “controversial” subject matter, which some thought might put off Academy voters and U.S. audiences, was precisely the reason “Vera Drake” had been so successful.

“It just goes to show that if you do make a really independent film with no interference from backers or outsiders, that doesn’t make any concession to Hollywood criteria, it can work,” Leigh said.

* * *

“Super Size Me’s” Morgan Spurlock and friends were supersizing their champagne intake at Gotham’s Balthazar, as nominations were being announced on the Left Coast.

“I have woken up everyone that I love this morning,” Spurlock said.

“And to think that just two years ago I was on my mom’s couch and this idea just popped in my head to make a little film about French fries. Never did I expect it to spawn into a larger examination of obesity and culture. One year ago last night I accepted the director’s award at Sundance, and I can’t tell you how many people in the past 365 days have approached me to tell me the impact ‘Super Size Me’ has had on the way they view their relationship with fast food. For example, just this morning, on my way over here, a man stopped me and said, ‘Thank you, your movie changed my life.’ ”

* * *

“Closer” thesp Natalie Portman was in Tel Aviv when she learned of her Oscar bid.

“I am in another country, so it is easier to withstand all of the anxiety,” she said.

Portman is studying in Israel and readying an Israeli film.

“I was on a rehearsal break when both my publicist and my mother called with the news. This nomination feels like a prize on top of a prize. The big get for me was the chance to join this remarkable cast and to speak Patrick Marber’s words. This was a strong piece of material, and it pleases me to see that the Academy recognizes films that show the ugly ways people can sometimes behave; it’s a bizarre aspect of human behavior that we all embody at one point or another.”

* * *

Alejandro Amenabar, director of “The Sea Inside,” which is up for two statuettes — foreign-language and makeup — held a press conference in Madrid Tuesday evening.

“I am tired but happy and, as always, taking events in stride,” the helmer said.

He was quick to praise the pic’s lead actor, Javier Bardem, calling his performance “historic.”

Amenabar described the Oscar as “the definitive prize for any filmmaker.”

“I want to win because it’s a bit like an international soccer match where you feel you’re representing your friends, your people,” he said.

* * *

“It may sound banal, but I’m really proud to be a South African today,” said Darrell Roodt, the writer-director of “Yesterday,” which made history Tuesday as South Africa’s first nominee in Oscar’s foreign-language film category.

“South Africans have always been the lepers of the world because of apartheid. We’re only now emerging from the shadow of the past. It’s a fantastic honor and I’m delighted.”

* * *

At Sundance, playing the role of film fan, Brad Bird celebrated his two “Incredibles” noms. He said it was a terrific experience to work with Pixar. He’d wanted to work with them and pitched this project, which was fueled by his own anxiety about balancing work and family. “At Pixar, this wasn’t their normal way of doing business: They don’t solicit material, but they wanted me to join them. They were like, ‘Great, let’s make it.’ They trusted me as a filmmaker.”

* * *

French helmer Christophe Barratier toasted two Oscar nominations for “The Chorus” (Les Choristes) — foreign-language film and original song — with a glass of champagne Tuesday.

“Two years ago we were struggling to make a film that no one was interested in. I never imagined for an instant that we’d come this far. It’s the stuff of dreams,” Barratier said.

Several French film companies turned down the pic — Barratier’s helming debut — because they thought its tale of life in a post-war reform school too old-fashioned.

“The Chorus” received eight nominations for the Cesars, France’s equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Barratier was unsure if it would be logistically possible to attend both ceremonies, because the Cesars are handed out on the evening of Feb. 26.

“It is going to be a mad rush getting from Paris to Los Angeles in time for the Oscars,” he said.

* * *

James Schamus of Focus Features was particularly proud of the studio’s two scripting noms (“Eternal Sunshine” and “Motorcycle Diaries”). Citing “Traffic,” “The Pianist” and “Lost in Translation,” he said, “This goes back to USA days; it’s becoming almost a tradition with us.” He was also excited by Winslet’s actress nom for “Sunshine,’ a movie that opened 10 months ago. “We knew we were doing something unorthodox by opening it at that time of year. But people are still passionate about the film. For us, it’s a point of pride.”

* * *

“Being nominated for an Oscar is an enormous honor,” said “Being Julia” star Annette Bening, who will be making her third trip to the Oscars as a nominee. “My dream would be to do a film with each of my fellow nominees. I congratulate them, and consider myself lucky to be included in such a distinguished group.”

* * *

Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics exulted about Bening’s perf in “Being Julia.” He described it as “a career-crowning performance. It’s great she’s nominated, it’s so deserving. There’s no other actress alive who could pull off this role at this moment. It’s almost as if Somerset Maugham, through Ronald Harwood, wrote this part for her.”

* * *

“Bringing “The Aviator” to the screen took years of effort by an extraordinary group of individuals, and I am thrilled that so many of the people who poured their heart into the film have been recognized by the Academy,” said Martin Scorsese, in a statement. “It is a thrill for me to know that the efforts of so many talented members of the cast and crew have been honored with nominations.”

Costume designer Sandy Powell, who is nommed for “The Aviator” commented, “I am very pleased and proud of all the work of our department. This is not just for one person but for all of us.”

Alan Alda, up for a supporting actor award, said: “Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have brought a powerful movie to the screen. What a joy it’s been to work with them and what a shockingly happy experience it is to share in the recognition of the great work of everyone who made this film.”

* * *

“We are thrilled that “Sideways” has been acknowledged for 5 nominations including best picture and that our screenplay was singled out for recognition,” said “Sideways” co-writers Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, in a statement. “Rex Pickett’s novel was a magnificent source to work from, with it’s hilarious, poignant story and richly layered characters. The outstanding work by all of the actors, walking the fine line between comedy and drama with precision and warmth, made our script and the film the best it could be.”

* * *

Swedish director, Kay Pollak, nommed for foreign film “As It Is in Heaven,” was napping at home when TV and Radio crews gathered outside his house in the snow trying to get an interview with him. Pollak spoke to his flack a short time later, saying, “I was asleep when my wife ran into my bedroom to wake me up to tell me that my film was in the Oscar competition. First I didn’t believe her, I was a bit sleepy but she said it was really true. Since then my phone as been busy with people that wish to congratulate me.” Pic was literally a labor of love for Pollak. “Eighteen years ago I met my wife Carin, and at the time she sang in a choir,” he said. “I used to come and get her and at the same time look at and listen to the choir. One evening I said, ‘What a fantastic metaphor for humanity. Imagine if I made a film about this.’ It took a long time. I knew nothing about choirs. I gradually started to look at the subject and I suddenly saw what attracted me: people who are inspired by delight and joy. And in time, I realized that what they all longed for was to know and become one, where all the senses are united and they all become like one body. That moment, when all senses are united, was paradise on earth.”

* * *

“We are absolutely thrilled the Academy made such a courageous decision. It was not an easy decision to nominate a German film about the last 12 days of Hitler and the Third Reich,” Dirk Schuerhoff, managing director of EOS Distribution, the sales company and co-producers on German foreign-lingo nominee “Downfall” told Daily Variety.

The $17.6 million budgeted “Downfall” has taken in excess of $39 million at the German box office. The harrowing Hitler pic is also the most successful German film in the last 20 years at the French box office – having already outperformed “Goodbye Lenin” in 19 days.

* * *

Here is Director of nommed docu “Tupac Resurrection,” Lauren Lazin said “when we created the film with Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur, we knew what a compelling and charismatic artist he was. But he was also controversial, so it’s incredibly gratifying to see that audiences have embraced the film with open minds.”

* * *

Filmmaker Oren Jacoby, whose “Sister Rose’s Passion” was nominated for Short Subject docu, expressed delight and determination to continue to take on challenging documentary subjects. “This Academy Award nomination crowns the efforts of Steve Kalafer, Peter LeDonne and Kellie Pyffer and a number of other people directly and importantly involved with ‘Sister Rose’s Passion,'” he said. “Most important, it recognizes the life work of Sister Rose Thering herself. The awards ceremony on Feb. 27th happens to fall on my birthday – so, I’m hoping for the best. But I think this would have made my father, Irving Jacoby, happy – he was nominated in this same category 46 years ago.”

* * *

“I’m shell shocked. I didn’t know whether to think we were in with a chance or not,” said Nacho Vigalondo, helmer of live action short nominee “A las 7.35 de la manana (At 7.35 In The Morning).”

Vigalondo and producers Ibarretxe & Co. knew they were through to the second round of the nomination process, but, despite multiple enquiries in Spain, they couldn’t find out what the term meant. The selection comes as compensation after the film’s title proved painfully prophetic, the Basque Country-based Vigalondo said.

A mock cafe-set musical shot in B/W, “7.35” ends in an explosion. “The film’s been read as a metaphor for terrorism. It was made before the bombings. But then the bombings occured by a terrible coincidence at the same time and then people began pointing a finger at the Basques as being behind them.”

* * *

Andrea Arnold whose “Wasp” is up for the best live action short film was still in some state of shock when Variety called: “I have just come back from Sundance and was lying on the bed with my dog when a friend in Los Angeles called to tell me the great news. Although I knew it was on the shortlist of ten, I am still dumbstruck. I think it will all sink in a bit more when the jet-lag wears off.”

(Adam Dawtrey and Archie Thomas in London, John Hopewell in Madrid, Alison James in Paris and Timothy M. Gray in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)